People often ask me “What kind of meditation do you teach?” or “Do you teach ‘Mindfulness’ Meditation?” If they are roughly over 40 or 50, they might tell me how they once did TM. I am never satisfied with how I answer their reasonable questions, and don’t promise to do any better here. I teach time-weathered techniques that will help a person to meditate, based on what I’ve learned as well as on my own experiences during the golden decades of the “meditation revolution” and since then. But after that, your experience is your own and up to you. Eyes closed and sitting still are standard prerequisites, but walking eyes open in a park or garden can be too.
I started studying yoga to fulfill a P.E. requirement in college, before the Age of Branding (of meditation and yoga). Later, as a spiritual aspirant, I, like many peers, studied a bit of Eastern philosophy, Kabbalah, Iyengar Yoga, etc. My eclecticism was subject to whim and personal interest. Meditation steers us to our own unique practice that simply defies branding, even if we are loyal adherents to a particular Path. Meditation leads us inward to explore our unique make up, observe our own minds and detach from identifying with our thoughts. Your meditation is the kind of meditation you do, with the tools, techniques, or teachers you acquire along the way. Call it TM, Zen, Shmen, Mindful, and whatever you call it, keep it fresh and juicy!
For now, stop and take five meditative minutes. Clear your mind. Then wonder at life’s synchronicities—the phone call by “mistake” that leads to a promising job, the “inner voice” heard that urges you to do something “out of the blue” that turns out to be beneficial or avert a disaster. Be surprised. That being said, here’s a handle on it:
1.Repeat a mantra silently or out loud. A beautiful one is “Aham Brahmasmi,” “I am That,” “That” being the Unifying Principle, Oneness, the Field or the Self, etc.
2.Give the mind its moment to chatter and then stop it in its tracks with a question, such as “What was I thinking?” It’s like going down a hiking trail and realizing you’re on a dead end path. You simply change directions. Surprisingly, the perfect way unfolds soon as you let it.
We don’t need to call this practice “mindfulness,” “awareness” or by any other name, But if you like names, you can call it Minefield Meditation as in “we’re in the mines, mining and minding our own business.” We can choose (or “mine”) the light of present awareness over the dark of past regrets or future worries. We can take away what’s “mine” and be left with the “field,” both a goal and state of meditation. Dwell in the field before going back to the mines.
Celebrate freedom this July 4th weekend by freeing your mind and being open to surprise.