Monday, October 31, 2011

The M Word

As we bring this month of focusing on Step 10 – Be here now, to a close, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one more method of being in the present moment (hence the second post today). That’s right. The M word. Meditation. I hesitate because for the most part I like to talk about things we can incorporate into our everyday lives without having to find more time in our schedule or add one more thing to our already too long to do lists.

If you already have a meditation practice, then great. If not, don’t be scared off too quickly. If you have been trying any of the techniques we’ve already discussed this month, like belly breathing or doing a sensory survey, you are already doing a form of meditation. If you do yoga or tai chi or any other movement that requires your attention in the present, you are doing a form of meditation.

Personally, I do have a formal sitting-on-a-cushion meditation practice, but I also consider my taekwondo practice to be a form of meditation. I have recently started learning tai chi. And for several years I was part of a contemplative prayer group.

If you are interested in exploring meditation, there are many books and websites and classes available. Meditation can be part of your faith life, or it can be completely secular. Or it can be something to file away for the future. Or not. Rest assured you can still be in the present moment if you do not meditate. However, if this catches your attention, then I hope you will check into it.

As we wrap up our focus on this topic, I would like to say thanks for all your great contributions to the discussion this month and invite you to share any other ideas or methods you use to help you stay present.



  1. I miss it- it's is a great way to unwind and relax as well as recharge your battery. Is there a minimum amount of time you would recommend?

  2. Lisa--I know there are a gazillion opinions out there about how to, when to, how long to, etc. The truth is that the "right" answer is whatever will work for you. Personally, I think that regularity is more important than length of time, so I try to meditate every morning. Do I actually do that? No, but that intention gets me to the cushion more mornings than not.

    I decide before I sit down how much time I can spend based on my schedule that day. Some mornings it's as little as 10 minutes. Other mornings it might be long as 30 minutes. (Unless I'm at a meditation retreat or class, I rarely meditate longer than that.) But whatever time I decide on, then I sit for that time, even if my brain starts thinking of all the other things I think I need to be doing.

    The key is finding something that will work for you. If you say you are going to get up an hour earlier every day to meditate for an hour, and then you don't, you will get discouraged and quit. Much better, I think, to start small with something that can fit into your existing routine, like meditating for 5 minutes before or after your shower, or something like that. Then, as you begin to make it a habit, you can adjust as you wish.

    The main thing is to not have this be a source of stress, guilt, or self judgment. We already have enough of that in our lives!

    It sounds like you have meditated in the past. I'm certainly no expert, so maybe you have some ideas to offer.

  3. Quiet time, when my mind is free to wander where it will, is my form of meditation. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen often enough. Now that the weather has started to turn pleasant and I can use the backyard again, I hope my quiet times increase.

  4. Hi Galen,
    Meditative "practise" is just that for me, I'm practising. I think the beauty with this is that you don't have to go into a trance or coma, just find the right place & set your mind free. At least that's how I look at it. Thank you for this
    be good to yourself

  5. Meditation is a great tool. I have started to have a look at Mindfulness - It's meditating in each moment of our lives, being present fully when cooking or having a bath of cleaning the house. It may sound easy but not really, because our mind wander all the time. Mindfulness is being aware of what you are doing at the moment you are doing it, using your five senses and enjoying the activity. It's a form of meditation you can use throughout the day!

    Thank you for all your great tips and advices along this month. Every one is different yet useful.
    Stay well always.

  6. I just want you to know that I have been greatly enlightened by the suggestions this month. I have tried these and I know if practised I can do more with the techniques. I love to meditate or ponder on a thought and know that it is important to have a quiet place to do this and I am going to work on it.
    Blessings to you for all of your posts; I really enjoy following your blog.

  7. I do not know what I would do without my meditation practices...I say the plural because I have never been to a retreat and I do better at focus when I am doing a yoga pose at the same time. Focus on the breath is so life giving and healing to me...

    I could not meditate when having acupuncture for pain and that was surprising...I got so relaxed I often went to day for 3 hours of pain relief - it was glorious too
    Thanks for your good words

  8. Bob--That's why I'm hesitant to advocate for a particular "type" of meditation. Anything that works is the right way, in my book. Like you, I enjoy quiet time outside. Thanks for commenting.

    David--Great emphasis on the word practice. So true. Thanks for your comment.

    MarieHarmony--I am trying to be more deliberately mindful, too, as I go through my day. The Bible speaks of praying without ceasing. Mindfulness is like meditating without ceasing. Thanks for your comment.

    LeAnn--Thank you so much for the kind words! Having a place for meditation or quiet time is very helpful if that is possible. In one place I lived, I just had a chair in the corner that was all I had room for. That was my special place. When I'm at my cabin, I like to sit by the creek and meditate. So I hope you can find your special place. But really, any place can be special. Thanks for commenting.

    Patricia--Good point about practices in the plural. I used a variety of techniques as well. Thanks for your comment.

  9. It's so nice that you end off with Meditation. I try to practice almost every day. It's also great to know that you have started tai chi too. Tai chi truly is meditation in motion or in the form of a fluid dance. I attended classes last year but due to lack of time and practice, was not able to keep up. Nonetheless, I hope to get back to it sometime soon.

  10. Galen: Tai chi is fantastic meditation. Practiced correctly, it is a great workout as well.

  11. Hi Galen,
    Your site is very calming and restorative with all the beautiful tree photos. I do meditate and have done so for over 30 years. I find it has kept me sane and centered throughout the years. I was also a meditation instructor at one time. I do find walking in nature and listening to the sounds of nature very soothing.

  12. Evelyn--I'm really enjoying tai chi. I would like to study other martial arts, too, in addition to that and taekwondo. Meditation in motion is exactly what it feels like. Thanks for your comment.

    JJ--Yes, it is. I'm learning a simple form now and I love going through the movements until they just flow. Thanks for commenting.

    Angela--Thanks for the comment about the trees. I'm just about to change the background to fall colors. I like changing with the seasons! Thanks for your comment.

  13. Galen: I am a fan of meditation and am on the same page with you about defining it in anyway that personally works for you. If you can quiet your mind, that is what matters the most ... how you get there is ultimately up to you. Great post and points.

  14. I took Tai Chi for a while, but it was such a long drive from my house that I could not continue. Also, I did not find the atmosphere to be fun, the other students were stuffy and did not want to communicate. It was a bummer but oh well. I find that my daily practice is found in writing and in the noticing. And sometimes I stop to just breath. Also, on Wed. we take yoga classes. I guess all this counts as meditation.

  15. Sibyl--I have just been reading a book by a Buddhist teacher who takes this same view. I love the way he can turn most anything into meditation. Thanks for your comment.

    Nicole--It's got to be fun, at least for me, so I hear you! Sure, yoga counts! Thanks for commenting.

  16. Hi Galen,

    You have given some wonderful way for mediation and we all need it to relax. That is the key is learning to relax and enjoy that moment. For me it just laying down and seeing that blank white sheet and relaxing. I know when I have gotten to the place I want to be by the way I feel. It is like being set free.
    Thank you for teaching to live in the moment it is so important, so we don't miss the wonders in this world.
    Blessing to you, Galen,

  17. Mediation is very inviting. I used to enjoy quiet mediation in the early mornings when my children were much younger. I really need to get back into doing this for my self. I am sure it would be very beneficial. Thank you for sharing.


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