Often people say to me “How do you meditate? I’ve been trying really hard, but it doesn’t seem to work for me.”
Meditation is a matter of self discovery. I’ve been at this a really long time, and still I am discovering new things about myself and my own practice.
Meditation is not about doing a particular thing, it is about being aware, cultivating awareness, being present and awake, paying attention.
In this world of over stimulation, we tend to get overwhelmed with the external sights and sounds and it is more difficult to see and hear our own spirit, our own direction. We end up getting confused and lost by listening to and following everything around us. More and more, we start our day by turning up the volume and pace of the external world, running with the herd, trying really hard to catch up, thinking “eventually I will catch up and maybe even get ahead.”
But the faster we go, the harder we try, the farther we fall behind. It is easy then to become exhausted and tell ourselves, “It’s impossible to catch up, let alone get ahead, I may as well just give up.”
Or, we may say to ourselves, “I know this is inconceivably difficult, but I’m never giving in, I’m never giving up.” However, if I continue with the same routine, I will keep getting the same outcome.
This is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly thinking I will eventually get a different result!
I used to think, “there is so much to do, I don’t have time to stop and assess even one breath.” I used to think, “I have so many demands for my time and energy there is no time or energy to spare for paying attention to selfish things like self discovery!”
What I now know is that those times are when I needed most to stop and pay attention. When I realized that I was on a never-ending roller coaster ride, going faster and faster, or on a whirling top spinning out of control, I knew that I needed very much to get to a calm center but I could not see clearly how to do that without being obliterated in the process.
I also realized that I needed desperately to change something because I was being consumed and disappearing rapidly. So I made a conscious decision to STOP and by doing so I stepped out of the frying pan into the fire.
The chaos that was my life was still churning, but slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, I stumbled my way through to the center where I could finally start to hear the whisper of my spirit again. To find that space of clarity I often just stop and pay attention to one thing, like my breath.
It doesn’t have to take hours, it can be simply a brief moment of one complete breath in and out. Or counting slowing from one to ten. Or humming a single tone, or repeating a mantra like “Om” the vibration of the universe.
In Hinduism, Om is a sacred syllable typifying the three gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, who are concerned in the threefold operation of integration, maintenance, and disintegration.
If you have read anything about crystals you may know that crystals carry a vibration and they sometimes need to be cleared. One method of clearing crystals is with sound vibrations. Everything in the universe is energy and energy has a vibration, or frequency, including our bodies.
So it stands to reason that sound vibration can clear the dissonance from our bodies as well as with crystals. Toning sound vibrations like “Om” is one very practical method of clearing the dissonance.
One of my favorite ways to clear is singing in the shower. Usually before I go to bed at night I like to wash off the day and refresh my body, mind, spirit in water, gratitude, and song. I sing my own mantras, whatever comes from my heart, one day it may be simply, “Here I am, here in the universe, the universe is here in me.”
Another day it may be a Tibetan mantra, such as “Om Ah Ra Pa Tsa Na Dhi Dhi Dhi,” which means “amidst the chaos everything is pure by nature.”
I believe that prayer and meditation are both beneficial, but very different practices. Prayer is dialogue, meditation is listening. I also believe that the most common practice of prayer is not what resonates with my spirit.
For me, prayer is a time to celebrate and express my gratitude and joy for being, but for others, prayer seems to be a time for asking. Don’t misunderstand, I do not believe it is wrong to ask for things, in fact one of my favorite scriptures is: “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you, seek and ye shall find.”
There are other examples of prayer that resonate with me, such as praying silently in secret as opposed to praying publicly for external acknowledgment of piety, and about expressing gratitude in advance for the gifts you wish to receive combined with the knowledge that it will be given.
I believe the universe is here to support all our needs and desires, but it does so only by invitation and gratitude is the invitation. Ingratitude is a rejection of the gift.
So, why did I introduce the topic of prayer when the subject is clearly about meditation?
Because prayer and meditation is a conversation with spirit, not as a beggar only asking, or an observer only watching and listening, but as a fully engaged participant in an active dialogue, both speaking and listening.
If you spend all your energy only focused on one aspect, either listening, or speaking, you never complete the circuit; the flow is asynchronous or one directional, as opposed to synchronous or bidirectional.
When you apply both practices of prayer and meditation you begin to get synchronicity, you become synchronized with the universe, you get in the flow of giving and receiving.
It’s a lot like writing, in the beginning you have a blank sheet of paper and sometimes it seems you just cannot find the first words to put on the sheet. But once you begin, the words start to come more easily.
What works for me may not work for anyone else. We are all unique and we have to find our own path. If you take a moment to be silent, to simply listen to your own voice, not the world outside, you will begin to see and hear everything more clearly. Then you will begin to understand.