We’ve become a world where money is time and time is of the essence and our answer to finding the time we need to do everything and be everything that is expected of us, is speed. In this world we have created for ourselves we are continually rushing to get somewhere to do something more so that we can move on to something else. And the faster we move; the more we accomplish; the more we are expected to be able to do.
Like programmed robots, we’re always upping our expectations for how much we can accomplish. It’s like a sickness with us; an addiction. We have the need to push ourselves and those around us to the limit in order to ‘succeed’ and we’ve made it very easy to get things done; or at least to keep ourselves busy.
We have drive through restaurants, instant pancake mix, quick-dry nail polish, drive through banks, microwave dinners, books on CD ROM, drive through pharmacies, instant coffee, online shopping and (leave it to Vegas) even drive through wedding chapels. And of course, if you need information you no longer have to dig for it, just log onto the internet. It’s all there, ready to be accessed at the click of a button. In a world like this, it is not surprising that there are very few disciplines left in the world.
Now by disciplines I’m not talking about Engineering or Mathematics; something that you study in college or grad school so that you can get a top notch job working for corporation XYZ. No, by discipline I’m talking about something that you do because it enriches your inner life; quiets your mind even while yoking it to your body; something that you do because it feeds your soul.
There are many kinds of disciplines; things like Yoga and Aikido, Ballet, Qigong, Judo and meditation. That’s right, meditation is a discipline.
While it may seem odd to think of meditation as a discipline, that is probably because many people have only been exposed to meditation as something that is used by self-help gurus and corporate motivational speakers; a practice that is used to clear the mind and relieve your stress; to help you focus on what it is you need to do and to do it (here we go again) quicker and more efficiently. But meditation is so much more than that!
By letting go of our expectations of what meditation is – and isn’t – we can open ourselves up to a whole new horizon of possibilities. By starting at the beginning and incorporating the practice of meditation into our lives – not as a means to an end; not as a way to work faster and more efficiently, but as a way to get in touch with our hearts, minds and souls – we can truly enrich our lives.
Through meditation we can slow ourselves down enough to be able to see where it is that we are going and, if we decide that we don’t like the direction in which we are headed, meditation can help us to pick a new destination. But it’s not instantaneous. In spite of what the self-help books or motivational gurus will tell you, real meditation is not something that you “get” in one weekend course, or can “grasp” in one week-long retreat. Meditation is something that you have to incorporate into your very being, into your very essence.
In order for it to work properly, it has to become a part of who and what you are, and that takes time. Before you get too discouraged about finding the time for a discipline in today’s instant mix world, keep in mind that while it is a discipline, meditation is not rocket science. You don’t have to plunge into the deep end of the pool and dedicate two hours a day to meditation, you can tack five minutes onto your morning shower, or five minutes onto your nightly routine and begin reaping the benefits that meditation has to offer you.
For a very basic beginner’s breathing meditation, try this:
For those who like to have something to focus on, try this: