Beginning Meditation. Do You Have the Voices in Your Head Too?
I have always thought that I "meditated". I enjoy many quiet, empty moments. I find myself free of thoughts. Whether it is in the shower or in a cycling class, on my mat after Pilates or Jungshin, or just the first few minutes of opening the studio when I sit on the ground and think and do nothing, enjoying a slice of quiet. But in my Roadmap for 2018 I found myself listing meditation, a quest for peace, as my number one Big 5 goal for the year. I have a coach and an accountability group within my Todd Durkin Mastermind Team and I shared this goal with both of them. Immediately I knew that by sharing it, I had to take action.
There is a lot to be said for writing your goals and intentions. There is even more to be said for verbalizing them to a group of people who will hold you accountable. I had to take my meditation more seriously and to the next level.
The first week of the year, I kept the intention, but not the practice as I focused on where and when to make this happen, but never actually did it. The second week, I verbalized it to my team. The "tomorrow" after that was the day I sat on my zafu in front of the fountain that I love in a room that has a sign over it that says "Happy Place". This "Happy Place" is our Recovery Room at The Energy Lab. Here is where it began.
Not every day, but close, I have kept my practice. Sometimes it is for 10 minutes, sometimes 20 that I sit and be. I hear all kinds of voices talking to me. I listen to all my lists move between my ears. I engage in conversations with myself and then I notice. I stop and I ask the conversation to step aside and wait. I earnestly try to focus on the water as it moves through the fountain, and I let go of all of the contents of my brain.
At times I notice myself disappearing into that state of blissful empty. I see colors and feel textures and waves of emotion that I simply notice. It is a different state of letting go than the meditation that I told myself I was doing all these years.
It is for me; not a recording that I make for others to learn meditation from. It is not to work out a problem in my head as I often do when in the shower. It is not getting lost in the music in the cycling class that I teach because I still sometimes wonder if everyone else in class is in the same place that I am in. It is not the first moments of the dark morning when I am checking my energy before the 5am clients or the 5:30am class. I LOVE IT. It is different and I think I am beginning to get it now!
Today, I pulled down the singing bowl that I have had for many years and decided to use that for my meditation.
What happened was really cool. It took me places. I am not very good at the singing bowls. But I discovered that you don't need to be. You just have to stay with them.
Ah ha. Like all things in life. You have to stay with it to get better. It does not happen in one session or overnight or in the next few weeks or months for that matter.
I found myself critiquing my singing bowl capabilities. Then I decided to enjoy the scratchy places and the higher pitched places. I began to hear the low notes and the high notes and then I felt them envelope me into what felt like a very long circle of energy moving like a tube around me. I felt my body bring the singing bowl to each of my chakra energy centers.
I started at the root and felt the deep notes vibrate within me. I am on a quest for grounding and it was good to feel it talking back to me. I stayed connected to the singing bowl and let it travel up my front spine exploring the chakras one by one. I must admit, when I got to the crown chakra, it was a little tricky to figure out how to hold it and still keep the sound moving around the top of my head. That is where my practice ended. But what I learned in my practice of "not being very good at it" was that it happened anyway.
This is the beginning of my next forever of meditation. One day at a time. And for what I learned in this one day, it is good!
As far as the singing bowls go for anyone interested in learning more:
- Buddhamouse Emporium in Claremont CA is where I found my singing bowl (also called Tibetan singing bowl). Or rather, it found me; like all good things, a singing bowl is something you want to hold and test and experience a relationship with.
- The owner of Buddhamouse and a long time practitioner and teacher of meditation will be conducting a singing bowl workshop Saturday, February 17th, 2018 at Buddhamouse.
- The benefits of singing bowls are best summed up: If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.” ~ Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine, the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York.
I am a big believer in enjoying a state of ease in our bodies. To do that, we have to recognize when there is a lack of ease, in other words, signs of dis-ease. Dr. Hans Selye, “the father of stress” was an endocrinologist in the 1950’s who did research on the response of organisms to stress. He determined that stress is the underlying cause of all illness and dis-ease.
In regards to understanding and reducing stress and the meditative practice with the singing bowl, a wooden dowel is moved around the outer edges of the forged metal bowl to create vibrations, sound frequencies. What is known about our bodies is that all parts of us possess a different resonant frequency. "When an organ, or other part of the body, is vibrating 'out of tune' or non-harmoniously, it is called 'dis-ease'. A body is in a healthy state when each cell and each organ resonate in harmony with the whole being." ~Dr. Herbert Benson, Harvard Mind Body Institute.
Dr. Benson found that stress causes physical or emotional blockages, like samskaras in our hearts. Stress reduction is essential to health. He coined the phrase “relaxation response”; defined as “a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress – for example: decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.” Regular activation of the "relaxation response" leads to reduced stress. Disease can be caused or made worse by stress, but the relaxation response can directly alter that.
I go back to one of my main premises in health coaching; everything in our bodies wants to be well. It is up to us to create the conditions for wellness to thrive within.
Happy Meditation. I wish for you too a HAPPY PLACE! One where you can create an environment inside of your body for wellness and EASE to thrive!