What is it?
Meditation is a practice of deep listening or a looking deeply that allows us to see clearly. It is a holistic discipline that helps us clear the mind so that we can achieve not an intellectual understanding, but a deeper wisdom or experiential insight about what is. It is a process of moving underneath all the blocks that separate us from others, dusting off the true gem that we are at our essence. This helps us see that we are all similar, that we are interconnected, and that the suffering I may feel can cause you to suffer and vice versa. Last, meditation trains us to be with our discomfort and pain. We notice the discomfort, but we don't react to it because we know that the mind causes suffering by thinking about it and we also know that pain is impermanent - it eventually goes away. But we also don't try to push it away and ignore it. We let it come and we practice becoming fully present with what is.
Why is it supportive of Conscious Change Agents?
Cultivating deep awareness in mediation provides us with the opportunity to examine the patterns and behaviors that arise without consciousness, which cause pain. If we are working to transform suffering in the world, it is important for us to first inquire into the nature of suffering in ourselves, so that we can better understand where it comes from and how it impacts each of us. The more we allow ourselves time to practice meditation, the more we offer ourselves opportunities to learn, to grow and to be fully present to the wisdom that arises from our inner experience.
How can I experience it?
There are many different practices, lineages, philosophies, schools and traditions of meditation. Following is a simple guided meditation to get you started:
- Sit cross-legged on a mat, pillow or carpet or sit in a chair with your two feet on the floor. Rest your hands with palms down on your legs or loosely together in your lap. Try to sit in a way that is noble, with your spine straight, as if there is a string pulling on you from the top of your head.
- Now, close your eyes. Draw your attention to your breath. Take a few deep cleansing breaths, and then relax your breathing. Try not to hold your breath or even pause between the in-breath or out-breath. Notice where they connect if you can. Take a few moments to bring exquisite focus to just your breathing. If a thought arises, just notice it. Say to yourself "there is a thought" and then let it go and refocus on your breath.
- Next, bring your attention to your body. Feel your sitting bones placed firmly on the earth or your chair. If on a chair, feel your feet planted squarely on the earth. Feel this connection with the planet and other people walking on this same soil. Draw your attention to your face and release any tension in your forehead and jaw. Next, draw your attention to your neck and shoulders and release any tension you find there too. Keeping your spine straight, release any tension in your back, arms and legs. Continue this scan throughout your entire body.
- As you sit relaxed and breathing, take note of what you sense in your immediate environment - the temperature, smells, sounds, any breeze passing over you.
- Now notice your internal emotional space. What are you feeling right now? Allow these emotions to arise and bring to you any wisdom or clarity. Do not try to push them away if they are uncomfortable, just be with them.
- Allow yourself to refocus on your breath. Again, if a thought arises, just notice it and let it go.
Try sitting each day for a period of 5 -10 minutes. Often it is helpful to set an alarm clock or timer to help you mark the end of the time you have set aside to mediate without having to look at a clock. Often when individuals start meditating, they are intensely aware of either their physical discomfort or the steady stream of thoughts that arises while they are attempting to focus on their breath. Therefore, we invite you to have compassion for yourself and remember that meditation is simply a practice of awareness, not a competition or something to achieve.
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