Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Meditation is medicine. A medicine of contentment and life energy. Meditation is many faceted, and there are many ‘ways in.’ Please look carefully at whatever calls to you in this writing about meditation, and breathe that calling into yourself with your whole attention.
Many times in my life, meditation has drawn me honestly and often soothingly into the clarity I needed… when I became a single mother with little children at home, when I was assaulted a few years ago, when relationships have been challenging, when finances have been stressful, when single parenting has been exhausting, and even just when I’ve felt like I was lost or alone in the world. Meditation has shone me, like a sun, into myself – revealing anything that has needed to be seen: from beauty and the full range of emotions, thoughts and hang-ups and habits, to psychological shadows, loving passions and a well-spring of patience. I’ve also come to experience a boundless and infinite Source inside of me for Loving, that seems to me to be an expression of the inexpressible transcendent.
Meditation helps me every day to see and experience myself, my children, and others, with love for all of us just as we are.
There is an enormous personal freedom that comes from the process of learning meditation, and a treasure of contentment that’s loosed from the bonds of negative and false thinking, harmful personal habits, and finite qualities of circumstance. And all of this happens just on the way to meditation, which is a hopeful thing in itself.
What is meditation?
In practical terms, it is a skill and a gift for peaceful, generous, interconnected living. The state of being called meditation, or dhyana in Sanskrit, is the fully present embrace of human embodiment in union with transcendent divinity/mystery. The meditative state called Dhyana, in all its spiritual and practical connectedness, will often arise from concentrated practices that are available to anyone at any time.
Another way to speak of this thing called meditation is as a release from the fluctuations of your mind into a state of conscious communion with all that is. (Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah -from the Yoga Sutras v 1.2) It is to be freed from the incessant chatter of your mind. Your brain still does what it needs to do for living, but you are not so mindlessly enslaved to the upward, downward and everywhere-ward forces of your thoughts.
Meditation blossoms from the tap root of a one-pointed focus
that then dissolves into all points of existence.
Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.
The meditation state can be described as absorption into a state of indivisibility – timelessness – an harmonious song of connection with the ever present pulse of life that is everywhere.
It is the field of no opposites; so expanded and permeable that definitions fall away and limitations do not exist. It is soft and powerful all at once.
Many practices or experiences can prepare you and lead you to the state of dhyana, yet the ultimate moment of experiencing dhyana is a gift; it simply happens. Because of this there is no ego about meditation states, no deserving or not deserving, no spiritual perfection to attach. This is important because an ego, including spiritual ego, is a hindrance – a contraction. One cannot want dhyana too much nor stressfully go at it, because both of these are hindrances. There is something most effective about living and loving your life just as it is, relaxing with the way things are and relaxing with the changes that come and go…and in this, incorporating with discipline and dedication any meditation practices toward which you feel drawn.
When you live mindfully in this way you will find that you are educating and clarifying your sense experience of the world; purifying your body; learning self discipline and discovering a natural patience and humility… And then sometime along the way the state of dhyana quietly comes close, enfolding, infusing. When this happens, the push and pull of the world no longer entangles you so quickly or easily. Something within you has changed so that even big and difficult situations are faced with an inner serenity… a quiet place within that you carry with you… Pain will no longer have the same power to cancel out your equanimity; rather they cohabitate when necessary so that the gentle strength and sweetness of your radiant inner life nurtures you and others through the challenges of being fully alive. This is an affirmation of life: when we can be truly present through all that seems like crap, as well as all the heavenly joys, without diminishing ourselves and other.
Two avenues toward meditation:
So, how do we ‘practice meditation?’ Or another way of asking this is: What are the practices that can lead to the state of dhyana?
Two core practices are:
1. being Love (practices/meditations of kindness, compassion and empathy)
2. accessing present moment awareness
Meditation practices have a filtration action, a clarifying action, a ‘sifting through’ action not only on our brain activity and heart life, but on our physiology, our cell structure and biological communication… and ultimately on our sense of ‘heart.’ This is the deep heart, the energetic spiritual heart that radiates.. The heart of the heart of the heart of your being.. This is where the journey of meditation leads you, over and over again.. as often as you need.
This idea of filtering through all that is unnecessary and gaining the skills to use your mind as a focusing, finely tuned, instrument of consciousness is essential to inner peace. It can be a lengthy and beautiful process. With this in mind, please relax as you read onward. Relax with whatever feelings or thoughts come to you. Take a deep breath, feel and notice…
The meditation practice of being Love: explanation and practice suggestions…
Love, as a meditation practice, is the ultimate action of opening, because the true law of love is that it contains within it the unloved… so nothing is separate, no moment, no practicality, no petty annoyance. ALL of ALL is included in this Loving. Loving accepts and elevates all moments, and love includes in its embrace all resistance. The idea of ‘Loving all moments’ is not a condoning of all moments; it is an open hearted, powerful engaging with all moments, guided by inner wisdom. Your ability to Lovingly hold, or lovingly make space inside yourself includes making space inside for the feeling of being lost and directionless, bewildered or hurt. These feelings are part of the human experience. By embracing every bit of yourself with love you take the fastest route to your most expanded and powerful state of being. You even lovingly engage with the need to say no to something or someone. ‘Loving all moments’ is an internal state of centered empowerment and discernment. It’s incredibly present. …Loving all moments includes the Love that can hold how hard it is to open to the Love that holds all moments…
Inner RELAXATION is a very important part of this meditation practice. You can discover this particular sense of ‘loving all moments’ through the act of relaxing with them as they are. This is key. It’s mental, emotional, and biological. This can be incredibly difficult, for some moments seem utterly unbearable. Yet inner relaxation moves you through the first veil of resistance to what is. This frees a great deal of your personal energy and helps you to become aware. You dive in or skirt around, or whatever you need to do, with full awareness. You breathe into greater internal space for all your feelings, and face what’s happening inside yourself instead of fracturing yourself into pieces of unconscious avoidance. You truly become more alive.
So, what is the practice: How do you bring this into your life in an everyday sort of way?
1. Sit quietly with yourself everyday.. with no distractions. Turn your electronics off or down. Begin with 10 or 15 minutes a day. Try to choose a regular time of day.. perhaps first thing in the morning, right before dinner, or before bed.. or at your lunch break.
2. Be comfortable and sit with a gently lifted chest.
3. Breathe with a steady and peaceful rhythm that feels comfortable to you.
4. Place one hand at the center of your chest (this is your body’s heart center), and one hand on your belly.
5. As you sit quietly notice the thoughts that come and go. Don’t do anything about them. JUST notice the thoughts come and go.
6. Notice the feelings that come and go in association with the thoughts that come and go. Don’t do anything about them. JUST notice the feelings that come and go.
See and feel yourself and in this upright posture RELAX with all that arises inside of you and in your environment. Relax and feel into your heart space, in your chest, as you notice thoughts and feelings. Relaxing the center of your chest awakens the loving center of your body. You begin to soften the edges of your own heart and in this way you allow your heart to resonate with the relationships and events of your life. This heart center of you is very wise. This is your meditative filtration process with attention to the heart. It is enough. This is a practice of concentration with the heart focus.
Wisdom and wholeness come to you gradually through this process. Everyday, twice a day if you can! Have patience and practice. If you miss a day, try to return to your process the very moment you realize. It is only 10 minutes. Stop your doing and sit for 10 minutes, aware of your heart and body, relaxing taller, softening your shoulders and jaw, with every thought that comes and goes. Stay heart centered in the process. Your body will teach you. Your life will teach you. Over time you will filter through and center into the power of your heart.
What is Love? Love is inner space, generous inner space for all the variations of life and peoples, ideas and circumstances.. and staying present with all, with an open heart. In order to expand into Love, you expand past your own limitations and comfort zones by staying in a loving perspective. You begin by making space within yourself for all that your life is made of. This is the greatest challenge, to truly love and be with yourself. Self love is the best way to grow your love for everyone else.
What is this true meditation?
It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, action, the evil and the good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss, right and wrong,
into one single koan .
The practice of Present Moment Awareness
So, if you would like more, then please turn your attention to the practice of present moment awareness…
What is present moment awareness? It is a relaxed attentiveness to the sensations of being physically alive to ourselves and the world around us as life is happening. Right now. Present moment awareness moves us from the tangible to the intangible.. which is awesome because we are all here in bodies, with senses and breath, two everyday tangible clues that we’re actually alive.
Present moment awareness becomes a stream of awareness,
a river of sentience, an ocean of enlightenment.
If we observe how we listen to music, we notice that there is generally a sense of ease as we allow one note and then the next to arrive, resonate and then leave without stopping the flow, without wanting to stop the flow. We accept and enjoy the vibration of tones and silence as they come and go and we do not hold onto them. Why is this? Because it is in the nature of the experience of music for notes to sound and give way to the next note; we accept this easily because we are used to it. There will be dissonance and resolution, complexity, simplicity and silences, and in music we enjoy it all as it comes and goes without fighting it, without grabbing onto it and trying to make it last forever, and if we don’t like it that much we are confident that the note or song will change. We simply experience.
Each moment of your life and mine is a note in the song of our lives.
A practical present moment awareness practice:
1. Find a quiet place for 10 minutes of each day (make a realistic commitment of once or twice a day). Turn off or down your electronics.
2. Sit tall so that you won’t fall asleep. Be supported by cushions for your back if you need that. If your body needs to lie down, perhaps put a small cushion underneath you at your shoulder blades in order to lift and open your chest.
3. Close your eyes, or if you need to keep your eyes open then soften your sight to a haze.
4. Notice your breath. That’s it. Noticing your breath IS the practice… Your breath is happening right now as you read this. You inhale and you exhale. Notice and feel the sensations of your inhale as it is happening and then your exhale as it is happening. Keep it simple. This is a practice you can do anytime, all day.. yet your life, and mine, are filled with distractions. So, as you do this, as you practice, it is very likely, almost guaranteed, that your mind will wander in all directions. This is natural, for our culture does not specialize in present moment awareness training. That’s why we set aside time to train our brains. We purposefully turn off our distractions and create a physical space to go to everyday.
This is your time. This time will nurture your body and mind.
Do not be discouraged if you are constantly distracted by your thoughts and lose track of your breathing. Simply come back to noticing THE FEELING OF your exhale and inhale. Whenever you wander away in your mind, and then remember your breath again, come back with unfailing friendliness to yourself. Return to yourself without admonishments. Welcome yourself back to yourself.
Practice for a set amount of time every day. Every day. Even if it is only 10 minutes.
Movement and meditation: You might find that you can notice your inhale and exhale with more focus when you are moving. Some people are movers. You might already be meditating in this way as a runner, a yogi or a dancer. Continue this but with pure focus on your inhale and exhale as they are happening. Dissolve your whole attention into the flow of your breath as you are in your movement practice. You may need to alter your movement practice just a bit while turning attention solely to your breath. Create safe movement space so that as your movement takes on a trance-like quality with your meditation, you are physically safe.
Why is present moment breath meditation practice SUCH an ideal meditation?! Because your breath is ALWAYS with you and ALWAYS rides the present moment. There is no better trigger for accessing the life force gateway of present moment awareness then your very breath. It was yours when you were born and your breath continues to be intimately YOURS until the day you die!
Through training, this meditation gives you the boundless energy of timelessness in a breath.
Meditation teachers and venues in Northeastern Connecticut
Meditation teachers are an excellent addition to your practice; sometimes a meditation teacher is crucial. Meditation groups create space in community toward insight and blessing.
Please feel free to contact these meditation teachers for more information about their meditation groups:
Clare Vidich – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Willimantic Mindfulness Sangha:
is a small group that meets most Sunday’s at 7PM at Knight House Multi-faith Center, 2 Windham Street Extension. This is on the campus of Eastern CT State University in Willimantic. They are a nonsectarian Buddhist meditation group drawing from many traditions and non-Buddhists are welcome.
They do a mix of sitting and walking meditation, usually listen to a Dharma talk or read from a book, then engage in mindful ‘Dharma discussion.’ They can instruct you in meditation if you would like that. They’re usually done by 9PM. For more information, or to be added to their announcement list, please email Jean Jakoboski: email@example.com
IF YOU HAVE A LOCAL MEDITATION GROUP AND WISH TO BE ADDED TO THIS LIST, please email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org THANK YOU!