Guidelines for Daily Meditation
Meditation is a method we can use for insight and change. Meditation leads us to our true selves. Meditation can be seen as a tool of a sculptor, which reveals the essential after removing the superfluous.
Meditation is a source of inspiration for action and social change. Reflection and change are similar to the rhythms of our breath - inhaling exhaling. Early morning meditation prepares us for our daily tasks and challenges.
Gaining control of our minds is the greatest challenge we face in life and the most rewarding. Of course this requires enormous patience and discipline. Mahatma Gandhi described the inner strength we need for this task as someone trying to empty the ocean with a small cup. We need to bring our minds back to their original state of calmness and lucidity.
First you will need a special place in your home that invites you to meditate. A peaceful corner where quiet and beauty can be found. Sufficient space is needed for yoga exercises, in order to relax and stretch our bodies prior to meditation. Whether one sits on a pillow, meditation bench or chair the most important point to remember is the vertical straight relaxed posture. This includes even the facial muscles. Try to bring the image of the smile of the Buddha or the Mona Lisa’s in one’s mind. Then it all begins. How to become the boss of our own minds?
When concentrating on our breath and repeating positive inspiring mantras, texts or prayers, we begin to learn how to control our minds. We choose for positive inspiration instead of letting our minds lead us to wherever they may please to go. Simple sayings we whisper to ourselves in meditation as, “Be still in your thoughts, be still in yourself and be here in the present moment” can furthermore be used sporadically throughout the whole day. Consider these sayings as your own personal re-set button. Daily sitting meditation can be extended to a twenty-four hour on-line meditative approach to life, recognizing all our arising thoughts yet choosing for tranquility in one’s mind. Thoughts are not negated, only their impulsiveness is called to a halt giving oneself time and a peaceful perspective to sort them out. This way we can filter out what is really essential and determine ourselves how we wish to think, live and act instead of being ruled by randomly appearing thoughts and instant demanded reactions.
Another tip for meditation and a meditative lifestyle is what I call the “Pinocchio cord”. Our shoulders may hang down either during our meditation or at other times of the day. We may simply feel tired or find our tasks too heavy to carry. Try to envision then an invisible string, the “Pinocchio cord” pulling us up, wishing to restore our vertical straight posture while meditating. During the day you can furthermore stand up straight, raising you arms as high as you can above your head with the hand palms facing and touching one another. Breath deep and feel the stretching of the spinal column. Recall in your mind your challenges, your unique place in the world and most important the persons you love and who love you. Refreshed in this moment, we remind ourselves that we can always reach higher summits in our lives. Most of all remember “Be upright and smile!” *1
Lastly, it may take years before you feel you are getting anywhere at all. Don’t be discouraged. What is a lifetime for otherwise? When you respond sincerely and wisely to the challenges and persons who cross your path, you are on the right road. Genuine meetings will be felt as “Waters of life pouring forth into your soul”.*2 Your thirst for fulfillment will be quenched, your source is renewed and inspiration is mutually shared. Our lives are then meaningful and rewarding. Else wise our souls and inner life would dry up like the dessert, living only on the surface of life for ourselves in our own small isolated world. Furthermore, progress is noticeable when anger, frustration and impatience appear and yet leave us just as swiftly as they arrived.
Meditation is a worthwhile lifelong task. Meditation helps us to create a meditative approach to life which brings more compassion and understanding to ourselves and our world. Good luck!
*1 From the poem of Lanza del Vasto Hou Je Recht en Glimlach
*2 Martin Buber, The Way of Man chapter 6 Here Where One Stands
For those looking for more evidence of the positive effects of meditation Google the studies of the American neurologist Marcus Raichle. For Dutch speakers there was a documentary shown on the television program Labrint December 7th, 2010 on channel 2 investigating scientific research of meditation in the U.S. and Nijmegen’s Radboud University.
Professor Henk Barendregt, from Radboud and a Vipassana meditation instructor who has led retreats in our center, explains in this documentary his research. The information listed here above should get you to this link
Excerpt from Zo zoet als honing – Meditaties met het Aleph-Bet by Sid Bachrach
Copyright Uitgeverij Ten Have 2011 ISBN 978 90 259 6130 5