Sit Down and Shut Up: the Art of Meditation
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Sit Down and Shut Up: the Art of Meditation

How to meditate - some recommendations, ideas and thoughts on modern day meditation and it's merits.

Lately, I have been reading a self-help book or two. Not because I need help - I'm clearly awesome - but because I want to learn why others are less awesome than me. And, crazy thought, but could I become even more awesome? After two, or - cough, cough - seven of these books, I noticed a common theme. They all recommended practicing meditation. Even if for a few minutes before tackling a big project, or for an hour in the morning before tackling your day. Hmm, I thought. Depriving the world of my thoughts through spoken form for an entire hour? It seemed selfish. But, never one to come to a conclusion without giving something a shot, I decided to try it out.

The basic principle was to sit still, focus on your breathing, and focus on clearing your mind.

How much easier could it be? I settled down into a cross-legged position on a large cushion. I checked my posture, relaxed my shoulders and focused on taking deep, measured breaths. I threw in a few extended "OOOOOHHHMMMM's" for good measure.

After what seemed like three hours I opened one eye to peek at the clock and discovered it had been a mere two minutes. Also, I had been grinding my teeth because of Red Bull, and thinking about getting my cocktail dress to the drycleaners. The fact that the cushion I had chosen was thin enough to feel the hardwood floor beneath it had distracted me several times, as I squirmed with irritation.

Apparently it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I could not have a chink like this in my armor. Meditation would be conquered like an Achilles heel operated upon and rendered immortal.

So, the next day I sat down and attempted it in the morning with the goal of five minutes, rather than an hour. I found it easier to start with an attainable goal rather than go for guru/monk right off the bat. Every few days, I would tack on another minute until I reached the goal of 20 minutes. Instead of thinking about "clearing my mind", I would close my eyes and build a scene from nature in my mind. A creek at the bottom of a sloping hill, coated in lush, green grass. A large apple tree with a swing hanging from it, blossoms on the tree. I would continue building the scene, including no people, but rather a peaceful and relaxing surrounding to sit in, in my mind. I read recommendations to remove judgment while meditating, and when I got past simply building a scene, I found myself able to think positively and clearly about events in my life.

I found myself feeling calmer and more focused during the day. I was less stressed, approached decisions and problems with more confidence.

Even though getting over the hurdle of being quiet in a noisy world can be tough, I definitely recommend it. Like how we invest in our families, friends, jobs, and hobbies, meditation is the brief investment we can make in ourselves.

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Comments (7)

I case you don't *really* know this, you are in fact clearly awesome...And in such an adorable way. :-) Being very old, well, kinda old, I've practiced this for over twenty years. Lately, being very stressed has caused me to stop. It was awesome of you to *remind* me to get back into it, and get out of this catch 22 I'm in -Good medicine. Thanks!

I have been practicing to meditate on and off for about 15 years and for a time I was very good at it on most days for 20 minutes. When I was good at meditating I noticed my problem solving ability with my computer-programming job improved dramatically and my sixth sense was amazing. The main “thing” that really ruins my ability to meditate is caffeine, if I drink coffee I might as well forget it, because my mind will not quiet up. The period when I was able to meditate for 20 minutes almost every day was a time I didnt drink any caffeine for a couple of years.

Good article! I recently wrote In this I describe my method of relaxation by learning the Lords Prayer in Latin. When I was a teenager I used to meditate often purely by accident at first. I was able to enter a state of self hypnosis which I have been unable to replicate in my later years allthough I really haven't tried it for decades. I think in todays world this could be really refreshing and great for mental health.

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Erin - I love this! You have a great sense of humor and style in incorporating the practical aspects of meditation into a daily practice. This is an easy introduction for someone considering it and your approach is delightful! I wanted more of the article, however, to continue the flow! Is there a Part 2? Or have you tackled Transcendental Meditation perhaps? This is the first article of yours I've read, but I'll be skimming some more for that great attitude and humor! Thanks!

This is harder than it sounds! Thanks for the meditation tips. Check out this meditation music, I'm making 365 meditational tracks, a meditation for each day of the year:

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