What is Meditation?

Written by Holli McCormick
Reading time approximately 2-3 mins 

“Many of us are slaves to our minds. Our own mind is our worst enemy. We try to focus, and our mind wanders off. We try to keep stress at bay, but anxiety keeps us awake at night. We try to be good to the people we love, but then we forget them and put ourselves first. And when we want to change our life, we dive into spiritual practice and expect quick results, only to lose focus after the honeymoon has worn off. We return to our state of bewilderment. We’re left feeling helpless and discouraged. It seems we all agree that training the body through exercise, diet, and relaxation is a good idea, but why don’t we think about training our minds?”
~ Sakyong Mipham
Turning the Mind into an Ally 

Last week we here at Elementus hosted our first THRIVE: WELLNESS WORKSHOP event with P.E. for Your Mind: Introduction to Meditation. Our teacher for the evening was Fern LaRocca – a student of meditation for more than 30 years.  Fern’s gentle, non-judgmental, non-critical approach to sharing her practice with others helped us all fill at ease as we learned about this age old practice.  Here is the first glimpse of what we learned.  In the next post, couple of posts I will share the science behind meditation and then will outline some of the instructions Fern shared to help us formulate our training with meditation.

With all the buzz of yoga, spirituality and mental health these days – the word “meditation” itself can bring both good and bad thoughts to mind.  Many people have had opportunities to “practice” meditation – however due to a lack of guidance and/or instruction and the fact that meditation does not come naturally in our hyper-connected world – our attempts to try meditation might not have been fulfilling or seen as worthwhile.

Sometimes starting with what something is NOT is helpful in order to understand what it is:

  1. Meditation is NOT to necessarily relax.
  2. Meditation is NOT to make you feel all good and peaceful.
  3. Meditation is NOT an attempt to empty your mind or stop all your thoughts from happening.
  4. Meditation is NOT opening yourself up to the unknown that might be harmful for your spirit or your religion.
  5. Meditation does not have to be done for an hour+ a day to receive the benefits.

Now let me try to illuminate on what I picked up on what meditation actually is using the same number system to correlate to the above:

  1. Meditation is a PRACTICE of keeping the brain focused on the PRESENT moment.  We performed our practice sessions with eyes open, most of us sitting while also acknowledging the sounds from the street and parking lot outside – recognizing that our days are full of similar noises and distractions.
  2. Meditation is an attempt to take your feelings and honor them…not to make them into anything but what they are: feelings of how you are doing in this present moment.
  3. Meditation is an attempt to simply recognize your thoughts as thoughts: they are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong.
  4. Meditation is an attempt to tune into your own inner world with the goal of taking that mindfulness/”presentness” practice out into your real life experiences, giving you room to expand on your practices within your own spirituality or religion.
  5. Meditation, like the science has found with exercise, can be practiced in smaller, regular amounts with great benefits.

Continued with the Science and Why of Meditation

  • David

    Enjoyed the Fern LaRocca presentation and learned some new techniques in mediation I hadn’t heard of before. Very interesting, especially the part about meditating with your eyes open