Interesting Posting from O, The Oprah Magazine March 19, 2010: Learn to Meditate

from the website O, The Oprah Magazine March 19, 2010: Learn to Meditate

This article appeared online back in March and my bad for not finding it sooner. One thing about meditation, is it doesn’t make me feel much like surfing the web a lot. But it’s important to see what people are up to in your own field… SO…

1. Hooray to all the well-known who are bringing attention to wonderful things like meditation practice.

2. On the other hand, Danger Will Robinson! Caution anyhow. Sometimes, those good intentions lead to a over-reduction of practices to simplicity in-extremis.

Of course, if we make stress-reduction practices seem too difficult no one will want to do them. Still, it behooves us to describe things with a bit depth and offer additional direction that will truly help guide those seeking more than the quick fix-of-the-week and then onto something else.

I’m just saying. Here is the article as I found it online. The link above will take you directly Oprah’s website which is full of info on every subject under the sun.

Taking time to sit in silence every day can help you develop focus—and discover purpose—in your life.

Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in your favorite chair, on a porch swing, on a rock by a river. Lie back in a warm bath, if you’d like, or on a blanket on the grass. If your eyes are open, focus softly on whatever is a few feet in front of you, your gaze, if you’re sitting, slightly down. The idea is to just be still for a few minutes. Be with yourself.

Try to concentrate on your breath—breathing in and breathing out (nothing special, don’t change the way you breathe). You might even want to say those words to yourself at first: “Breathing in, breathing out.” After a while, let the words go. When you find your mind wandering, notice the thoughts—don’t judge them—and let them go. Do this by coming back to your breath.

That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.

Under the article, there’s a place for readers to respond. Awesome, right?

Here is what one reader said, that prompted me to write this blog entry, that you are now reading:

Can it be that simple? I am secretly depressed and have been for years, can I really help myself be meditating in this way for a few minutes a day? I’ve tried it before. Perhaps I didn’t try for long enough…

I decided, uncharacteristically to write back. I just felt that this reader was sounding  like they were out there, feeling kinda bad, because like, “I tried it and if it’s that simple how come I don’t feel better yet,” or something like that. I don’t want to put words into the mouth (or pen) of reader Harris 497.

Harris497, The answer to your question, “can it be that simple?” is both yes and no. As a meditation teacher, I’d say that yes, in the beginning, when you first have the seed of an idea to try sitting meditation, it is that easy. Sit down, focus on the breath and when thoughts come along, don’t hold on to them, don’t judge any aspect of your experience and let everything go. Just sit. Just breath. And just be aware that you are sitting there breathing.

On the other hand, as a set of instructions for really developing a daily  meditation practice that can seriously help you reduce your suffering,  it won’t get you very far.
I don’t know where you live so I can’t make any direct recommendations but in general I suggest this: find a good meditation teacher where ever you do live. If you’re in the Chicago area I could make suggestions. A good guide is an important part of having long term success for establishing real peace of mind.

There are lots of teachers out there. Find one. Some wonderful and some, not so much. Be careful. Choose mindfully and don’t get taken in by any hype. Make a selection that feels right to you.

If you’d like to discuss this, I can be reached through my site and I’m happy to offer what I can. We’re located in Chicago in Chinatown. I know of teachers, who know other teachers, around the country, so if you are not local, maybe I Can help you make some connections. Wishing you all the best in your quest.

What do you think?

PS. Let’s look at this one line for a sec…
That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.

Especially this last bit, “getting to know your own mind.” Getting to know your own mind means, we learn how the mind works and we do this by long careful practice of observing the tiny, micron slices of experience, of action that are the processes through which or by which the mind operates. And that, while not rocket science, in that anyone can learn to do it, is not something that simply happens with a few minutes of even daily sitting and breathing. It takes determination, patience and guidance and that’s just for starters. It’s an amazing, life changing journey that can be a huge benefit to yourself and to all around you and I wish everyone would do it. It’s changed my life! And I see how it benefits others and makes all of life more peaceful, it does take time and attention. And kindness, compassion to ourselves. One of the great amazing things is, that as we go through the process, the whole world becomes more peaceful. How awesome is that?!


Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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