Q+A – Learn to Surf Your Meditation

Q:

How do I go further in my meditation? I feel like I’m getting stuck early on and I’m becoming frustrated by my inability to go further.

A:

Where are you trying to go and why do you need to get there so quickly?

The beauty to meditation is that it is a journey to nowhere. In so many ways it is a circle within a circle. You sit, you quiet the mind, and you let go. When you arrive to that place of calm you realize you are right where you are. You have gone nowhere. You have experienced what it is to have a clear vision of nothingness; free from the need to pay attention to thoughts or the interruptions of the world around you. With practice you become aware that the distractions of your mind are really no different than the distractions of the world you live in.

You see, meditation is not a place to travel to. There is no destination or linear path to follow. There are no road signs for direction. Instead there is an endless ocean upon which to float, and within that ocean there are entirely new levels of freedom to explore once you are able to free yourself from the inner-workings of your brain and allow your mind to stretch beyond itself. When you are able to do that, you will find that you can reach beyond the world of your five senses.

I often describe meditation as a walk into the ocean.  When you first close your eyes in meditation, it is like walking into the ocean. You are buffeted by waves that push you back and knock you over.  These are the thoughts and ideas, lists and regrets, assignments and tasks that your brain distracts you with.

It is as if a cerebral surf is crashing down on you, keeping you from reaching the calm swells that rise and fall beyond the waves. You know they are out there, but you struggle to reach them. The more you struggle, the more off balance you become, and the more difficult it is to stay focused on your destination.

Once through the surf, you begin to feel the calm rise and fall of the ocean swells. In time, you will even find that you can float on top of the beautiful water, rising and falling as if floating on the ebb and flow of the tides of existence.

With practice, you may even feel yourself slipping beneath the water, safe and quiet, watching the thoughts pass above you, above the surface.  There you can rest in quiet, aware they are there, but knowing that you do not have to interact with them.  You will find that you can stay in that place for a while, until you become aware of an even calmer point that is deeper, quieter, with even less motion from the waves and the currents of the outside world.

And so your journey goes until you are resting in that null space between your thoughts and your breath.

The key to getting to that point is learning how not to fight the waves of distraction, but to surf on them.  And that requires climbing onto a metaphysical surfboard, free from attachment and from ego. It is not the same as “letting go.” Instead it means embracing the world you are in so that you can be one with the waves of your mind.

At first, don’t even worry about “meditating.”  Instead just allow yourself to drop in on your breath.

Simply be aware of the air as it flows in and out of your body.

Be aware of your lungs expanding and releasing with each inhale and exhale.

Pay attention to the quality of that breath.

Notice how cool and dry it is as it enters your nose.

Notice how warm and moist it is as it leaves.

Notice the feeling of your body as it sinks into your pillow or seat.

Gently move your awareness to the pattern of light that plays on your eyelids.

With each breath surf to another of your senses and explore what you see, hear, taste and smell.

Don’t jump, just surf through your five senses gently by moving your awareness and your attention to whatever you are experiencing.

When you are ready, return your attention to your breath.

Do not force your attention to go anywhere, simply follow it through your nostrils and own your windpipe.

Feel it enter your lungs.

Be aware of the currents that air creates as it swirls around your lungs and through your body.

Feel the energy that flows from your abdomen to your scalp, your fingertips and your toes.

Then, when you are ready, return your attention to your breathing and enjoy your meditation on the calm waves of your own ocean.

 

Be well,

 

Monday Moments: Your Life As Meditation

If you live your life as a physical mess, that mess will find its way into your emotional well being, as well as your meditation. In fact, it will find its way into your existence on every level.

It should be no surprise that everything in your experience is linked. After all, you are here in the physical world, not to be isolated from your true self, but to allow your true self to explore the world around you, and in so doing, the experience of being human.

That means it is up to you to slow your body down so that it responds to your needs, not its own. It is not something it is used to doing, but this is a new day for you. Or at least it should be…

Rest assured, your body will tell you what it needs. It has evolved into a very efficient machine to stay alive. Unfortunately most of those programs were written more than 40,000 years ago. So think of that original programming as part of something I like to call Human 1.0, and we are living in the Modern World of 2.0. Even Apple and Microsoft puts out patches and updates from time to time, which is what Modern Meditation is all about. It is kind of like a patch that will help you update your old programming.

Which means today is the day to start cleaning up those areas of your life that are out of balance.  And that includes your mind, your body, and yes, your spirit through meditation.

This does not mean you have to jump on whatever new bandwagon has captured the attention of the media. It simply means you need to be aware of what you are eating, of whether you are getting enough sleep, of how much you are drinking or smoking, and yes, even loving. For even the best feeling of love can be too much from time to time.

The next time you are feeling out of sorts without knowing why, it is probably not the result of some huge issue in your life. It is more likely something simple; like not getting enough sleep, or the right nutrition, or even a bit of healthy exercise.

So instead of panicking, ask yourself, when was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? When was the last time you had a nice, slow, healthy meal? When was the last time you went a week without drinking or getting high? When was the last time you simply smiled into your day and felt good about who you are?

I will bet you, there is probably a stronger connection between your lack of sleep, or lack of a healthy meal, let alone a nice workout, than the lack of love you may have in your life. For it is usually when you are hungry, or tired, or hung over that you feel bad and regretful for everything that you think has gone wrong in your life.

If so, stop and jump off whatever treadmill you happen to be on. Step back and eat a healthy meal, go for a long walk, get a good night’s sleep, and try going a few days without taking a drink of alcohol or a huff of whatever drug to see you through.  You may be surprised at how a change in your physicality can affect you emotionally and even spirituality.

If you really need, you can always sign up for a free guided meditation we call The Waking Buddha Breath. It may be a good place to start your day, and your life, anew.

 

 

Jeff Cannon

 

 

Monday Moments: A Mindful Glass of Water

One of the simplest ways to start and end your day, while ensuring you remain on the right path, can be as simple as sipping a glass of water mindfully. When you wake up, it starts your body working with the idea of cleanliness, health and calm. When you go to bed, it helps you flush all the events of that day out so that you body and mind can process them while you get a restful night of sleep.

Physically, a mindful glass of water helps you flush out the impurities you have acquired living in our modern world. Mentally, a mindful glass of water help you release the stress and worries of your day, so that you can literally put it all to bed. It is a reminder that whatever happened, happened. That there is nothing you can do about it except to let the waters work their magic, as you move on to the next adventure that awaits you.

The best part is, you do not need to buy anything special. All you need is a glass and some water. You can even create a small ceremony for yourself after your evening sip by filling and covering your glass with a clean napkin at night, putting today to bed, and giving yourself a gift to wake up to in the morning as you welcome the new day before you.

When you drink, do not simply pour the water into your mouth. Sip it mindfully. Take a moment to look at the glass as you slow your breathing down and become aware of your breath. Let go of any thoughts in your mind as you see the glass, see the water, and drop in on the image before you.

Breathe in and appreciate the clarity of the water. Breathe out and feel whatever stress or tension you may have flow out with it. Breathe in and feel your mind take accept the clarity. Feel the temperature of the water through the glass. Feel yourself smile at the calm it creates.

Take your time and think of the water as a doorway into your day. Smile into it as you sip and feel that smile opening up into your heart.

Do not drink it all at once, but give yourself permission to stop and breathe between sips. Remember the mindfulness that is within you as you start and end your day. Think of the glass of water as a mirror for your own intentions as you allow them to fill your body. Whether those intentions are for a good night’s sleep, or to re-fortify and recharge yourself for the day ahead, accept them and welcome them.

When you are done, gently place the empty glass down and continue to breathe in and out, down and up. Take your glass over to your sink and wash it out, breathing in and out to yourself as you wipe it dry for the next use.

Drinking a glass of water mindfully creates a boundary through this simple ceremony that will help you separate your day from your night, your work from your dreams. It will also help to ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout your day. And in time, it will help you turn every glass of water, whether drunk at your desk or at a restaurant, into a reminder to stow down and appreciate that moment for what it is.

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