Exactly a year ago my book Good Living Practices was published and I was on several virtual book tours and speaking assignments to promote the book. The local county newspaper reviewed my book and wrote about it in a piece entitled “Just breathe: Meditation made simple”. Following that book review, a few health care organizations requested me to conduct meditation workshops and sessions for their health care and ER personnel, and I gladly agreed. Most of the health care staff was new to meditation so in each session, I explained the concepts in simple terms and also provided an easy, guided meditation session. Because they found my explanations about how to get started with meditation and how to support yogic meditation with lifestyle practices so helpful, I thought today I’d share with you some of what I told this audience.
Meditation is a combination of undivided attention, focus, and awareness. During meditation, the body is still, the mind remains undistracted and the emotional state is calm and balanced. The end result is a complete integration of the body, mind, and emotions. A good example of this concept is the state you exhibit while preparing for an exam or for a first job interview. Military snipers experience a similar state when they channel their focus, attention, and awareness on the target for a sustained period. Watching a glass of milk intently in the microwave oven so that the milk does not boil over is a form of meditation. In addition, you may experience a meditative state while playing music, reading, painting, drawing, or writing. When you have an undivided attention, focus, and awareness on your breath—or on a single mantra, an image, or sound—it is yogic meditation. Simply put, you are meditating when your emotional state is calm, your mind is free from dramas, and your body is still. Thus, a meditative state is not restricted to any particular activity as it occurs in different ways for different people. Though it may sound like an effortless state, meditation actually requires discipline and effort to access it.
Here are some other lifestyle practices that you can couple to meditation:
When you sit to eat your meal, be aware of what, why, how, where, and when you are eating that food. Mindful eating is when you maintain undivided attention, focus, and awareness on your food, thus transforming the eating process into a meditative act.
Physical exercise is a perfect meditative act when your focus, attention, and awareness are on the exercise. Only then, will you be able to overcome any challenges and experience the feeling of accomplishment.
‘Brain stimulating activities, such as learning a new language or practicing a musical instrument, also require focus, attention, and awareness, that not only places you in a meditative state but also strengthens the brain and the neural connections.
Uninterrupted good quality sleep is a meditative act.
Performing a selfless service is also a meditative act because for the service to succeed it requires focus, attention and awareness.
If you are a novice, I suggest you cultivate focus, attention, and awareness on any tasks that you do (including the ones mentioned above). As you keep doing all your tasks with a meditative attitude, notice how easy it is to achieve and fulfill them. Once you attain this skill, it becomes easy to bring the same principles of focus, attention, and awareness on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Thus, you are now slowly entering the path of yogic meditation. As you use your meditative skills in any task that you do, notice what impact it has on your personality. Meditation is like learning and becoming competent in a new skill. The more and longer you meditate, the more impact it will have on your health and wellbeing. As you meditate mindfully, you are keeping yourself in the present, neither dwelling on the past nor thinking about the future. In this meditative state, your body, mind, and emotions unite as one entity, and you will begin to feel intrinsically rewarded.
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