Updated: Apr 27, 2020
There's a holistic community leader where I live named Dennis Kelly who started an interesting program called Meditation Around Town. Each month, in a different location around the metro, a mediation workshop leader creates a guided session.
This event is free, open to the public, and features a different style of mediation each month. I love to promote innovative programs like this not only because Denny is a marvelous human, but also because it demystifies the process and makes it accessible.
When I've had the honor of leading a session in this program, I maintain a state of wakefulness during the session so I can monitor the time, communicate with the sound therapy musicians who are often on hand, and observe people. I'm watching for ease. Discomfort. Peace. Restlessness. Awareness. Sleep. These are all accepted states in meditation. I smile at the people who open their eyes, welcoming them back to their conscious state. I help facilitate a sense of comfort with silence--something many of us lack.
And I sit in wonder of the power of people gathered together in this moment of healing quiet.
Many people say they don't meditate because "they don't know how" or "they don't think they're doing it right." To be sure, there are many styles of meditation, and some of them require specific training. But for the most part, you can use a host of resources for guided meditation, such as these free sessions from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. You can also try options from The Chopra Center, Tara Branch, davidji, and numerous others. You can even add a meditation app to your phone, such as Insight Timer or Headspace. Once you've had an opportunity to explore and realize that meditation is easy, then you might want to work with a meditation teacher to help you develop a personal and unique practice. However, you have the ability to create a meditative moment at almost any time throughout the day. *Set an alarm on your phone or computer to ring at a particular time each day. When it does, pause, close your eyes, and breathe. You can do this for as little as 30 seconds or as long as 10 minutes. *When in traffic, practice focused breath each time you come to a red light. Inhale for a count of four through your nose, and exhale for a count of eight through your nose. Repeat until the light changes to green. *The next time you have a chore to do, such as washing dishes or folding laundry, adjust your focus to nothing but the task at hand. Engage the senses. Feel the warm water. Breathe in the clean smell of clothes. Notice the texture of the soap bubbles or the fabric. Keep your sensory perceptions active throughout the entire task. *Learn to pause by stopping for just a bit as you stand up, when you sit down, before you reach for something in a cabinet, after you pour a cup of tea. A slight stop allows you to gain a better understanding of the present moment. Try one for above each day for a week, and see what you notice. Meditation isn't a mystery: it's a habit, a practice, a ritual. Just like anything else you invite into your life, it will develop over time if you assign importance to it.
Photo courtesy of Gaiam