Meditation with HollywoodWritten by Dina Colman
When you think of meditation, you probably think of sitting in a lotus position repeating the mantra, “ohm”. For years, meditation has been on my to-do list. I have tried to meditate at various points in my life, but my mind wanders and I’m uncomfortable in the recommended sitting position. When I focus on my breathing, I don't seem to be breathing comfortably. Feeling that I wasn't doing it “right” made me feel like a failure.
One morning as I was lying in bed with my cat, Hollywood, having our morning ritual of snuggle time, I realized that this is my meditation. While Hollywood is on me or next to me, my mind is quiet and I am focused only on him and the connection between us. I pay attention to the feel of his fur, the closing of his eyes, and the purr of his body. His purr is the vibration of his happiness and I let it permeate my being. During the meditation, I feel my mind clear and my body relax. My breath slows, my heart rate lowers, and I feel calm. This happens without me even thinking about it. Sometimes I lie there for five minutes and sometimes for twenty. My meditation is simple and I am good at it—just the way it should be.
Is meditation for you along the more traditional lines of sitting in the lotus position and focusing on your breath or repeating a mantra? Or is it something a little less traditional? My mom meditates by staring at the ocean. My dad meditates by sitting in his recliner chair and listening to music. My sister meditates by walking along a certain spot at the cliffs. For some, it may be working in the garden or walking along the beach. Whatever it is, try to clear your mind and focus on one thing—whether it be your breath, your cat's purr, the sound of the waves, or the feel of dirt in your fingers.
Meditation is about creating space in your mind, quieting the incessant mental chatter. If thoughts come up, it's okay. Just bring yourself back to your quiet mind without judgement or frustration. Try to be a third party observer of your thoughts, without taking a personal interest in them. Meditate in a place where the distractions are limited. You want to be grounded in the silence and stillness of present moment awareness.
Meditation has been shown to be helpful in prevention as well as treatment in our health. Studies show numerous physiological and psychological benefits of meditation. Some of the physiological benefits include lower blood pressure, strengthened immune system, relaxed muscles, and improved digestion. Psychological benefits include decreased anxiety and depression, increased productivity, and improved memory.
Although we live in a goal-oriented society, we must remember that there is no goal in meditation. The idea is simply to be. Identify the meditation that works for you and try to incorporate it into your day—even if only for a few moments.
What is your form of meditation?