Sunday, July 31, 2011

Science Proves I Haven't Totally Wasted The Last 20 Years

So you know the ancient practice of meditation is really gaining some traction when it hits "Nightline" right?

Gratefully, I did not wait to scientific proof or the mainstream media to start my meditation practice twenty plus years ago. Nonetheless, recent findings are affirmative and absolutely fascinating. Be sure to watch the recent "Nightline" video segment.  There are additional videos on the topic that continue automatically after the first video so stay tuned for even more interesting interviews on meditation.

In the "Nightline" piece, they focus on researchers at the University of Wisconsin who, with the Dalai Lama's blessing, studied Tibetan monks in high-tech scanners and found dramatic differences in their brainwaves in a meditative state. Other studies conducted at Emory followed ordinary people new to meditation who took an 8-week course and found their behavior and word choices were significantly influenced. Basically, they became nicer people.  Watch the video for the details.

Want to try meditation? Well, it isn't scientific, but here are a few of the things I learned over the years that might help:

1. Meditation literally is a practice, and persistence and discipline are key. 

  • Persistence to sit when you are first starting and don't know if you are "doing it right" and you don't really feel anything at all. 
  • Discipline to sit when life is busy. 
  • Persistence to sit when you feel bad. 
  • Discipline to sit when you feel good.
  • Persistence to come back to center when you drift. And on and on...

I have gone through waves of dedicated discipline and of accomplished avoidance over the years. And in retrospect what I know for certain is...

2. I always feel better when I am meditating regularly.

It is baffling when I get in a space of avoidance because I know I will be stronger and better able to engage in the world when I am practicing. So why the avoidance? It is not always easy to be with yourself. Emotions do arise, but when you get to the other side, life is always clearer and more in focus. But it takes courage, and of course discipline.

3. Don't try to figure it out or need to understand why ("it" applies to everything). And definitely do not seek enlightenment. 

Keep it simple. Be with yourself. Come from your heart. Trying to get all analytical just engages your left brain in a right brain endeavor.

4. Twenty to thirty minutes is my sweet spot

I am sure it is a personal thing and you might be able to connect in quickly, (lucky dog) but for me, I need to sit a good 20 to 30 minutes to really be able to find that sweet spot of connection.

5. Don't wait. Just do it.

You don't have to take a class or get the gear. 1. Sit.  2. Pay attention to your breathing--in and out.  3. when you have thoughts, refocus on your breathing. Repeat.

Do you have any tips or advice on the topic? Would love to hear your take.

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