Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Reconnecting May 27, 2008

“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
~Will Rogers

We all have those moments, days, weeks where it feels like we can’t keep up, we aren’t centered or grounded, we’re separated from Source. I don’t know about you, but when it happens to me, I have this sense that it will require a grand gesture to turn it around. Missed a few days of meditation? Then I must need an hour-long meditation plus two more hours of spiritual practice to catch back up. And then when I don’t have the time or make the time for such a long practice, I judge myself as lacking and sink deeper into the darkness.

The thing is, of course, we’re never completely closed off from Source and no matter how disconnected we feel, reconnection is literally only a breath away. Once the awakening has begun, once you’ve had a taste of the experience of your deep connection to Source, it doesn’t take much to bring you back there. Here are a few simple tools you can use throughout your day to either help you remain connected or reconnect you as needed:

Breathing. We are constantly breathing, in and out, all day long, each and every day. It is something we are generally unconscious of, but try bringing your consciousness to this natural process, recognizing with each breath that you are alive in this moment, right now. Do this for a few moments or a few minutes, depending on where you are and how much time you have. It’s amazing how this simple technique can bring you quickly back to yourself, to you as observer, as awareness, to the now.

Be Here Now. The key to happiness is to stay present in this moment. I find that a simple mantra can work wonders in helping me remain present when I find my mind wandering into past and future events. I’ve been using “Be Here Now” recently, although any mantra will work. I’ve also been playing with the idea that whatever I am doing right now, it is my life’s purpose to be doing it, and so I remind myself of that as I work. It is a great way to turn any activity into a meditation and almost always brings me up out of whatever dark thoughts were trying to take hold in my mind into the space of light and peace that is always available in the now.

Music. Listening to music can be a quick and easy way to reconnect. Our bodies are energy and we are all vibrating. Music is also a vibration, and when the two vibrations meet, we can experience a deep harmony. I know for me there are a few tracks that from the first note I feel myself transported. If you don’t already know what works for you in this way, I recommend exploring the many examples that are available these days developed with the intention of positively affecting people’s vibration. My current favorite is Jonathan Goldman’s Waves of Light, although I also enjoy the Brainwave Suite and the second track of Kelly Howell’s Retrieve Your Destiny. The Globe Institute for Sound Therapy & Healing is a great resource as well. They have a collection of CDs available in their store with demos for you to sample. When you visit their website, they have a selection playing, “Awakening,” that instantly transports me, and I often leave the page open in the background while I’m working so that I can stay in that sense of the divine no matter what I’m doing.

Nature. If you have a wee bit more time, try connecting with the natural world. If there’s a park or a forest nearby, go for a short walk. Try taking off your shoes, feeling the grass or dirt beneath your feet. Connecting with the earth directly is a quick and easy way to literally ground yourself through the earth’s energy. When you don’t have nature readily at hand, try observing the flora and fauna around you. Flowers in a vase, a house plant, a pet, a bird outside your window — take a few moments to really experience these examples of life that can be found just about everywhere, using each of your senses. You may feel how they radiate energy just like you do. Or you may just notice their simple beauty. Whatever comes up for you, the natural world provides so many examples of the essence of life that it can become a great way for you to reconnect with your own sense of that essence within you.

The key here is really it only takes a moment to remember what it is we already know–that we are one with the Source of all life and that the only moment that truly is is this one. When we come into that awareness, we are in contact with the power of the universe, with the divine. Try playing with a few of these tools this week, maybe by setting up a reminder alarm to go off a few times throughout the day or by using them when you start to feel yourself slipping into unconsciousness. I think you’ll find it only takes a moment to turn your day around. Good luck, have fun, and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: “That my life would depend on the morning sun,” originally uploaded by ThunderChild the Magnificent

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Living from the right brain April 17, 2008

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
~The Dalai Lama

This video of neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor describing her experience while having a stroke has come to me from several different sources lately. I was finally able to download and watch it yesterday and wow, now I know why. If you haven’t heard about this video or had time to watch it yet, I cannot recommend enough taking the time to watch it now. I would not be surprised if you found it the best spent 18 minutes of your day today.

This idea of right brain vs. left brain has been coming up all over the place recently. It is definitely related to the divine dichotomy–we are all One, yet we are each of us unique individuals–and is related to our balance of feminine and masculine energies. This video really helped clarify how it is all connected, and also gave me a way of looking at it whereby I can begin choosing to live from my right brain.

Now don’t worry, I have no intention of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and disassociating myself from the left brain, mind-based, masculine energy side of me. It’s just that it has been in the driver’s seat for most of my life already, and I really want to engage the right brain, spirit-based, feminine energy side of me, at the very least creating a sense of balance in my life. What I’m looking to do now is to develop practices that strengthen my right brain, enabling it to become the dominant place that I’m operating from.

There are quite a few benefits to this practice that I can see. Perhaps the most obvious one for me right now is that so far I’ve had a heck of a time turning off the running commentary of my left brain. Mostly it is a distraction from my truth and it very rarely provides anything useful, except for when the commentary is obviously fear-based and then I can use it as a guiding light (i.e. do what the fear is telling me NOT to do). A new idea for me is developing this sense of not knowing where I end and the rest of the universe begins. I’ve had this experience in meditation or when I first wake up in the morning or while on the natural high induced by music and dancing, but recognizing its source makes me realize that it is an awareness that is always with me on some level, open to me all of the time.

I heard a story recently of a woman who recognized that she was allowing her left brain to dictate her reaction to a situation–she literally took a step to the right and allowed herself to respond from this part of her instead. What came out of her mouth surprised even her, but it came from her intuition, her inner wisdom, and resonated with a much deeper truth for her. I’ve also been experimenting with writing with my left hand, which allows me to naturally and easily tap into that intuitive place. Are you interested in experimenting with engaging more of your right brain? What kinds of activities do you find work for you? I know I’m excited to begin living from my right brain–let me know how it goes for you too! Namaste.

Photo: “***Creativity***,” originally uploaded by Angela Mengoa

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Two of my favorite things April 8, 2008

Filed under: tools — jennsheridan @ 11:33 pm
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My meditation altar

I feel like a kid in a candy store. The last few weeks I’ve been indulging in a few new toys that I am just loving playing with. As part of this shift, I cleared out one of my bookshelves and turned it into a sort of altar. It is now home to my abalone shell with a sage smudge stick, a couple of Buddhas, rocks I collected in Sedona and Utah, my pendulum and crystal, and some cards whose images and messages I just love. I’m using it as a place to display my daily angel card and tarot card as well. It just has such a lovely warm-and-fuzzy feeling to it. I’ve been meditating on the floor in front of this altar for the past week or so–certainly not as comfy as my couch, but I do like the way the energy is building in this space. While I hate to play favorites with my new toys, the Osho Zen Tarot cards are so much fun I’ve been a little like a doting grandmother with them, showing them off to anyone who cares to listen. Whether you’ve been reading cards for 30 years or are brand new to the concept, these are sure to captivate you. Beautiful and insightful.

My love ferns

When Sean and I got married two years ago, our friend Don put together some absolutely beautiful calla lily bouquets for me and my bridesmaids to carry. As an accent to that, he also picked up two potted calla lilies that were used to adorn the area of the patio where the ceremony was held. I dubbed them my “love ferns” after the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I was a wee bit worried about my ability to keep them alive–while I no longer consider my thumb to be completely brown, it is far from green and I tend to surround myself with plants of the variety Those That Can’t Be Killed. The love ferns live out on the deck and I water them somewhat sporadically; while they always seem to recover from my dry spells I wouldn’t have called them thriving . . . until now. The last few months I’ve been much more conscious of my plants, watering them much more consistently and talking to them regularly. As a reward for my attention, the calla lilies bloomed for the first time since the wedding. They’ve been absolutely gorgeous and such a treat to view out on the deck each day. Definitely motivation to continue being good to them!

 

WWTDLD? April 1, 2008

Filed under: connection — jennsheridan @ 4:43 pm
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Yesterday morning as I was meditating, my cat Gryphon curled up in my nap and began chewing on my fingers. It’s her morning “Please feed me!” routine, which she usually reserves for waking me up. As Sean and I talked about it last night, he was pondering what the Dalai Lama would have to say to that. As the Dalai Lama is quite practical, Sean thought he would recommend moving the cat, removing the distraction of the nibbling.

This morning I was thinking that yes, the Dalai Lama is practical, which means it isn’t likely he would recommend trying to change the behavior of another being. Instead, he would probably look at what little you do have control over. The only being I have control over is myself, but I also have control over where I choose to meditate. Therefore, I’ve relocated where I meditate to a place that is less likely to encourage kitty nibbling. We’ll see how well this works!

What do you think the Dalai Lama would do?

 

One message March 28, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 5:28 pm
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“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.'”
~Kahlil Gibran

I had a wonderful, somewhat unexpected experience last night. A friend of mine heard somewhat vaguely about a blessing being done by a woman from India who imparts divine energy. She didn’t know anything else about it except when and where it would be held. It sounded interesting to me so I decided to go to it with her. The evening ended up being part of Sri Karunamayi’s 2008 World Tour, the Spiritual Discourse and Darshan piece of her larger Bay Area program. Amma, as she is called, is considered to be an embodiment of the divine mother, with a large heart full of love for individuals and the world as a whole. She has many followers in India and around the world, revered for her loving presence and good works.

While I’ve always found Hinduism interesting–really, find me a religion or philosophy that’s NOT interesting–I was always more attracted to the Taoist and Buddhist end of the Eastern religious spectrum. I’ve been introduced to small pieces of the faith throughout the years, even studying the Bhagavad Gita and using a mantra, but I’ve never been one of those people who felt incomplete without a guru or a trip to India. However, one of the things I love about being where I am on my path right now is that I really got to enjoy the experience last night, soak up all the good energy in the room, experience Amma’s amazing presence, and not worry about what to call it or find a label for myself in the midst of it. I loved the chanting–my favorite being the Sri Sarasweti Mantra, I’ve been singing it half the morning–loved feeling the vibration of the sounds in my chest and body, loved how it deepened my connection to everyone else in the room, loved how I could feel the vibration even during the silent meditation. During some of the chants there was drumming, which set my soul on fire and made me want to move, to participate in the creation of its beautiful, soulful rhythm.

Amma spoke on and off throughout the evening, sharing her perspective on the world and our place in it. I couldn’t always understand the words she was saying, but I always felt connected to her message. The more she spoke the more clear it became to me that she was speaking a truth I’d heard before, just with a slightly different perspective on it. She may be coming from the background of Sanātana Dharma and I may be coming from a patchwork quilt background that includes Christianity and Religious Science, but we are both pulling from the same well, connecting to the same sense of the divine. She spoke of our Oneness with the whole of life, and how to be at peace with that life. She spoke of our duty to be in the world but not of it, bringing our presence out into the world without getting sucked into its drama. She spoke of the importance of meditation, and how to find clues to the practice of meditation by looking out in nature. And she spoke of a deep, abiding love that fills her up and spreads out into the world through each person that allows it to, carrying with it the peace and joy that true love brings.

At the end of the evening, I got to take part in the blessing. Amma reached out and dabbed a mixture on my forehead as she murmured a few words, and I thanked her, looking deep in her eyes and soaking up her loving energy. I felt so light, so peaceful, and so grateful to have been part of the experience. I bet if you’d seen me at that moment, I would have been radiant, almost translucent. Slowly but surely, I’m sloughing off my labels, my personal dogma, my limiting beliefs. I am opening up to experiencing all of the wisdom and truth and power and love this universe has to offer. It’s a wonderful ride. Namaste.

Photo: “Sri Lanka,” originally uploaded by Steve Evans

(Yes, I know this is a picture of a Sri Lankan girl, which means not only is she from another country but there’s a 70% chance she’s Buddhist. However, it’s such a beautiful, striking photo that I wanted to share it. No labels, remember?)

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A New Earth — Role-Playing: The Many Faces of the Ego March 25, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the fourth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance.”
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

As always, Eckhart Tolle’s presence this week was very timely for me. I had lots of fresh material to work with as I was watching the podcast of last night’s webinar today. I appreciate so much Eckhart’s centered, grounded presence, and the natural way he is able to answer the questions as they come in. This week in particular I felt that Eckhart provided some helpful tools, for me anyway, in dealing with issues as they come up in the moment. I’d like to share a few of my favorites.

* Practicing the Presence. I always wanted to be like Brother Lawrence, practicing the Presence. What it used to mean to me was being aware of your connection to Source all of the time. I suppose this is what Eckhart experiences with his being fully in the present moment, being fully the awareness and the Presence instead of the ego. One caller asked about how to bring this more into our daily lives, into work and relationships and whatnot. Eckhart provided a handful of suggestions for consciously bringing Presence, beingness, awareness into your day, throughout the day, as a reminder of Who You Really Are–a form of practicing the Presence for the rest of us who are still in the process of awakening.

Eckhart suggests that you make sure you’re bringing your spiritual practice out into the world with you. While all practice helps you ultimately become aware, it easier to focus on your awareness, your aliveness when you’re at home alone than it is when you’re, say, at work. Take a few moments throughout your day to just be. You might allow your phone to ring two extra times, breathing in and noticing the aliveness within you before answering the phone. Or put a flower on your desk by your computer, periodically turning away from what you’re doing to appreciate the beauty and aliveness in the flower and feel its aliveness in you. Even one conscious breath, in and out, is a short meditation. There’s no need to wait until you’re home alone or until you feel you have plenty of time to meditate–you can bring it with you wherever you go.

* The awareness gap. I’ve heard many people over the years, myself included, be frustrated when they don’t find themselves applying their awareness enough in advance to avoid falling into an old pattern they thought they’d already let go of. Eckhart reminded us that the first step is awareness in any form. If you find yourself identifying with a role, behaving in ways that don’t serve you, or any other form of falling into old patterns, the first step is to become aware of it, even if it is after the fact. As you become more and more aware of what you tend to do, the gap between the act and the awareness begins to shrink until you find yourself becoming aware of what is happening while you are doing it. And as you continue to practice awareness, you will get to a place where you can see where you are headed even before you get there. So have a little patience with yourself, celebrate your awareness whenever you are having it, and the gap will keep shrinking until one day it vanishes.

* Facing challenges. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have areas of my life where it is easier to practice what I know and areas where I seem to keep tripping over my own feet. Eckhart says most people face one big challenge in their lives, whether it’s an illness or a traumatic event or a person. When we come face to face with that challenge there are really two ways we can react to it: 1) we can fall into our old patterns, our old ways of being–like if someone gets angry with you and you join them in their unconsciousness, getting angry back; or 2) we can allow the challenge to wake us up even more, becoming even more present and aware in the situation and taking steps to disconnect from the ego’s desire to react and just be. We can rail against a situation or we can surrender to it and go with the flow. We can get sucked into someone’s drama or we can just be with them and provide them a space to get it out of their system. One of Eckhart’s suggestions that I just loved was to pretend that you are transparent and just let whatever it is pass through you. He recommended practicing with a loud noise like a jackhammer, feeling the noise but allowing it to pass through, without reaction, without irritation. The more we practice with those smaller challenges, the more we can see the gifts in the bigger challenges and rise to the occasion.

* Guardians of being. Anyone who knows me knows how much of an animal person I am, and a cat person in particular. A caller asked about why it is that she always seems to be more present when she is with her dog. Eckhart spoke about pets (cats and dogs in particular) generally being more present than we are. I personally think it has to do with the way their memories are structured, but if you watch an animal, you can see that they are completely invested in the moment, fully present wherever they are. Right now my cat Morgan is cleaning herself in a sunny spot — she is completely focused on the task at hand, so much so that usually she only cleans one paw, like there aren’t three others for her to think about. Our pets become “guardians of being” when they bring that beingness to us. I think part of it is that as we engage with them we become fully present really in whatever it is that they are doing. But I also think that they elevate the level of beingness in the space, and when we occupy the space with them, we join them in that beingness. I didn’t really need another excuse to love having cats more, but it is always a good for me to remember the special spirits they are.

* Focus brings success. Perhaps my favorite part of the webinar was when Eckhart was clearing up a misconception from last week. A lot of people had come away with the idea that there’s no room for planning and ambition in the Now, and they wanted to know how you can still have a life of passion. He spoke about how much greater the passion and joy are when you stay in the present moment, when you stay focused on what you are doing now. The more you focus on where you want to get to, the more your passion degenerates into stress. Make plans, set intentions, have dreams, but then live each moment as it comes. Everything in life requires steps to get there, however the delusion is in the idea that the fulfillment somehow only exists in the future. As we’ve talked about before, life is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the ride.

Eckhart told a story from a Zen master that I think applies well to all of life. The gist was that if the archer focuses on winning, he steps out of the present moment and his need to win drains him of his power, keeping him from being able to hit the target. Mastery comes from being in the moment. Live each moment as it comes, experience the energy that moment contains, then let it go and move onto the next, experiencing it with just as much focus as the last. This is the path to true success, to true enjoyment of life, to true passion, to living life fully. Namaste.

Photo: “Masked figures,” originally uploaded by Frank K.

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Breathing in, breathing out March 16, 2008

Filed under: connection — jennsheridan @ 6:01 pm
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We could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. ~Alan Watts

Hanging out with a good friend last week, she mentioned how much trouble she’s been having relaxing during acupuncture. Her mind just keeps working, her thoughts keep coming up one after another such that she has trouble relaxing. I suspect we can all relate to this, a mind that doesn’t slow down enough for us to relax. Of course, the more we try to make our thoughts dissipate, the more our thoughts crowd in. It’s akin to the pink elephant experiment–when you’re told not to think about a pink elephant, what’s the first thing that happens? A pink elephant pops into your head. When you try not to think, it’s like your mind is drowning in thoughts, they just keep flooding in and you can’t escape them.

Meditation is the best way I know of to train your mind. When you first begin to practice, your thoughts may merely laugh at your attempts to slow them and keep on flowing, keep attempting to distract you. The more your practice, the more you build your “meditation muscle,” the more you can use your meditation to slow down the flow. Actually, it isn’t likely that your thoughts are really going away–what’s more likely is that you’re sinking deeper into depths of your mind where stillness resides. Imagine the disturbance of the water on the surface of a pond, how there are ripples and waves, leaves floating on it, birds taking their baths, and animals quenching their thirst. There’s all this activity on the surface, however if you were able to get below the surface into the depths, you would find quiet, stillness, peace. That’s the place meditation brings you in your mind–but like anything else in life, it takes training. So here are a few tips and exercises that you might find useful as you are getting started with meditation.

* There’s no one right way to meditate. Now, I know people who will definitely disagree with me on this, but I come from the school of thought that says meditation is a personal experience. If you’re worried about not being able to do it right or even wondering what “right” really is, don’t. Relax, let go of all notions of “should,” and you’re already in a much better frame of mind to become a successful meditator. The goal is to practice being still in whatever ways work best for you. I’ve got a few suggestions that I’ve found useful to get you started, but I would recommend being open to any new ideas you have, books that you discover, people who you run into along the way. Even after you’ve found methods that work for you, exposure to new methods can help to round out your practice.

* Set your time in advance. Whether you choose to listen to music or simply to focus on your breath, you should know in advance how long you are going to sit. Especially when you are just learning meditation, you will want some sort of timer to help you know when your time is up. The mind plays tricks on you and in the beginning you will likely think you’ve been sitting there forever even if it’s only been a few minutes. Take the wondering associated with it out of the equation by setting a timer for yourself or by choosing a guided meditation or song selection that last for the amount of time you are planning to meditate for. Start with something that feels manageable, like five minutes, and work your way up. My goal is to sit for 30 minutes each day, but I have a minimum I’ve set for myself of 15 minutes. Find something that feels good to you, something you feel like you can commit to, and make the time to do it daily.

* Breathing. One technique that works for me and can be done anytime, anywhere is to focus on your breath. Even if you only have five minutes in the morning, before a meeting, or between classes, you can find a place to sit, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing. Take a few deep breaths to start and relax your shoulders, your body. As you breathe in through your nose, feel the air as it crosses your nostrils. As you breathe out through your mouth, feel the air as it crosses your lips. Having that one thing to focus on might be enough for you, or you might want to repeat “Breathing in, breathing out” or even just “In, out” in your mind. If you find your attention wanders, don’t worry about it or get frustrated with yourself, simply bring your attention back to your breath.

* Watch your thoughts. Another process that might work for you is to watch your thoughts. Take a step back into your awareness, become the observer, the one who is aware of the thinker. As thoughts come into your mind, don’t react to them or create further thoughts around them. Just watch them, notice them, and let them go. The idea here is to practice non-judgment, to practice not following where the thoughts lead. You will always have thoughts, but you don’t need to let them be in control.

* Focus on a mantra. While a mantra can be used at any point in the day to help bring your awareness back into the present moment, it can also be used to help focus your meditation. If you’re interested in exploring this idea further, you might find Eknath Easwaran’s book Meditation useful. While not exactly a mantra, his method of meditation is to drop the words from a prayer or spiritual poetry into your mind one at a time, almost like they are prayer beads. Elizabeth Gilbert also talks about the use of mantra in meditation in her book Eat, Pray, Love. The one that ended up working for her was Ham-sa, a Sanskrit word meaning “I Am That.” Or you might try something like one of the guided meditations in Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Blooming of a Lotus. The first one has always been my favorite:

1. Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.

2. Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment.
Breathing out, I know it is a wonderful moment.

The idea here is to give yourself words for your mind to play with, but not to go along with them. So the words fall through your mind and you let them fall, you do not follow where they go. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the mantra. If you’re using a longer one, you can either repeat the line you were just on or start from the beginning.

* Listen to music or chants. When I first learned to meditate, I was taught a relatively strict way. And I struggled, and struggled, and struggled. My body would itch, my thoughts would wander constantly, I would think that my timer somehow hadn’t been set properly and I’d sneak a peak at the clock to see if I’d really been sitting for as long as it felt like. My mind and ego won that battle more often than not, and I’d either get up before my time was up or I’d be antsy the whole time. It was a frustrating process, and as much as I knew the mind could play tricks on you, I couldn’t seem to get over the idea that I was just awful at meditating, that somehow something was wrong with me. At what point did this frustration shift into the love affair with meditation that I have now? When I added listening to meditation music to the breathing technique mentioned above. For me, listening to something solved the superficial issues I was having and let me dip into the deeper parts of the well. The music gave the top layers of my mind something to listen to, the fact that the track was timed meant that if it was still playing I was still meditating, and a sense of peace developed in me that had been missing for over a decade in my meditation practice. Does that mean my thoughts never wander? No. But it means I’m operating from a place of peace and tolerance that enables me to be gentle, to shift my focus back on to my breath, to use the discipline that meditation has taught me. You can find all sorts of great meditation music online, in music stores, and on iTunes. The gong music on Music for Deep Meditation: Tibetan Singing Bowl is a great choice, although it may be long for beginners. However, any instrumental or new age music can be used. If you don’t have any in your collection, Comcast’s digital radio has a great channel called Soundscapes, and Narada has several collections available that I would recommend as good introductions to the genre.

* Use guided meditations. Many people I have known find guided meditations a useful place to begin. In my early days of meditating I found that they gave my mind too much to do, which made the wanderings more pronounced, but now that my meditation practice has developed I’ve found a few that bring me to a new level of awareness, including my current favorite, Kelly Howell’s Awakening Kundalini. Check your local metaphysical bookstore–many of the authors writing today have come out with meditation CDs including Wayne Dyer, Joan Borysenko, and Louise Hay. Or, if you have a handheld recorder you can record your own voice taking you through a guided meditation as well.

* Meditate in a group. Group meditation is an excellent way to get started, or to continue your meditation practice. Find a class or meditation group near you–whether you begin attending regularly or just drop in occasionally, you will definite learn to feel the difference between meditating alone and in a group. Friday night I went to a talk at East-West, a local metaphysical bookstore, and at the end of one of the guided meditations the speaker commented on the power of the energy in the room. Having experienced meditators present had helped to elevate everyone there, enabling even beginning meditators to experience much deeper meditations than they would have had on their own. Plus, you will gain exposure to new meditation techniques that you may choose to incorporate into your personal meditations moving forward.

Whatever you choose to do to get started, remember to be gentle with yourself. The habit of a lifetime is not going to disappear in five minutes. However it will begin to slow down a little bit with each successive five minutes, ultimately reaching a place where you begin to see its results, to appreciate the shift that is taking place. Some day, whether it’s six months from now or six years from now or even 16 years from now, you will be able to look back on this beginning and smile. So go ahead, start today. Take five minutes right now to relax, let go, and use one of these techniques to begin your meditation journey. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will reap the benefits. Namaste.

Photo: “Meditation Center,” originally posted by Linda N.

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