Posted by: John | August 14, 2011

Journey of Meditation

My journey through meditation began in my So-Cal days in the Seventies. I’d read a book from time to time about transcendental meditation, but that was as far as I’d go. I’ve always felt there’s more to life than the helter-skelter and the rat-race. I have always been aware of our left brain (objective side) and our right brain (subjective side). I’ve always considered myself somewhat contemplative.

After my retirement from a full-time job, I began reading more about meditation. As a flight instructor, I felt people learned to fly by flying, not be reading books, so I realized I should start meditating rather than just reading about meditation.
 
I began trying to meditate but my mind wouldn’t let me. I remembered writer and meditator, Natalie Goldberg, referring to her “monkey mind” and I understood what she was talking about. I felt sometimes as if I were taking a broom to the floor of my mind and trying to sweep all the thoughts into a corner. I remembered Pema Chodren saying her mantra is, “stop that,” when the thoughts begin to overwhelm her.
 
Then I’d develop an itch somewhere and become obsessed with scratching it. I remembered Lisa telling me, “That itch will go away, just focus on your breath.” After joining the Mindfulness Community of Hampton Roads, I tried meditating while focusing on a burning candle. That was helpful. I could focus on the flame, become a part of it. The flame kept my mind from wandering.
 
Somewhere I’d read that twenty minutes was a reasonable goal to sit in meditation. Interesting, I thought – twenty minutes is considered the minimum amount of time for any type of cardiovascular exercise to be effective.  Exercise for the body; so exercise for the mind/spirit.  I began setting the bezel on my watch to monitor my sitting time.  Although I’d been doing yoga for six years, my back would still begin to ache after a few minutes. But I was determined to continue. My back hurt less over time as I continued with a regular meditation practice.
 
Now, I’m able to sit for twenty minutes or even more. I still take my hearing aid and contact lenses out. With my eyes closed, I can focus on my third eye. Sometimes, there’s the impression of all-white light behind my eyelids. More often, not. There are times when I have no thoughts, but as soon as I realize I have no thoughts, I know I’m thinking again.
  
I’ve realized that each time I sit is going to be different, just as a pilot I feel every landing is different. I go where my meditation takes me at the time. I can’t make anything happen. Sometimes I can sit for forty minutes or more. Other times, only ten. Throughout all this, outside pressures seemed unimportant. For example, I went through a divorce, yet it seemed to have no direct effect on my meditation.
 
Although I know my journey isn’t over, I feel I’m thinking clearer in my daily life and I’m more focused.  Of course, I’ll probably drive halfway across town tomorrow with my turn-signal blinking. 
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