Don't hate. Meditate.

I first learned about meditation when I was a teen in the 80s. My dad took a stress management course and, all of a sudden, he was practicing regularly. He would sit in his chair every day after work and meditate to a guided tape. I couldn't believe it. He was not exactly a yogi or even remotely spiritual. He became much harder to rattle and had a more relaxed, calm way about him. I equated this with him getting older. Little did I know that meditation had fundamentally changed my father. 

Every once in a while, my girlfriends and I would sneak into my parents room to listen to the tapes. Mostly, we would giggle and make fun of the teacher (well, one of the girls would actually fall asleep...). I thought it was just some sort of newage thing that only hippies (and my dad) did when they had too much time on their hands. I was not exactly a believer. 

A few years ago, I was reintroduced to meditation by a coach. I was going through a tough time and not dealing with stress very well. At first, it was the most uncomfortable thing I have ever done. So many connected thoughts would pop in my head. I found myself frustrated because I could not turn off my mind. I had no idea that it was not supposed to be so hard.  

I finally decided to take a course at the Art of Living. What I have learned is that meditation carries many different meanings in many different contexts. It has been practiced for thousands of years as a component of numerous religions and beliefs. It can be used to clear the mind or to ease health issues and it can be done sitting or in an active way. It can actually be something you do all day every day from mindful eating to conscious listening. 

Because meditation is an ancient practice, there are dozens of techniques. My favorite one is Sahaj Samadhi, a technique that involves the use of a sound mantra for 20 minutes twice a day. But, I continue to explore other methods from guided tapes to mindfulness to transcendental (TM). The more I share what I am learning, the more I continue to be surprised by how many closet meditators I know. 

Ultimately, what is most important to me is that I take time each day to practice. I try to do it for 20 minutes twice a day. And, when I am overwhelmed and struggling to fit it in, I keep a very old zen saying in mind... 

"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy then you should sit for an hour!" 

Article - "Meditation Found to Increase Brain Size" Harvard Gazette

Book - Quiet Mind: A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

Course - Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Course at The Art of Living

DVD - Introduction to Yoga & Meditation