A thought occurred to me during meditation the other day (whoops!)—meditation is like a cleanse for the mind just like juicing is a cleanse for the body. Imagine if you do both?!? I posted my grand insight on Facebook and thought today why not explore it further with a full post?
I have tried meditating in the past but never really felt like I was getting anywhere with it. I would sit on the floor in an uncomfortable cross legged position and try not to think about anything while my mind flipped me the bird and just continued to race from thing to thing. I couldn’t help but think, why am I doing this? I guess I was looking for spontaneous enlightenment or something. I didn’t consider that they call it a meditation practice.
Yes, as with anything else you have to practice meditation. Our minds have spent our whole lifetime feeding us crazy thoughts—it’s not just going to shut up in one sitting. Wait, that’s not very mindful—it’s not going to kindly quiet down without practice. Even with practice, even lots of practice, I’m sure it is still going to be jabbering away about something. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t getting anywhere.
I feel very fortunate that we have a lovely Insight Meditation Center here in Newburyport. A friend asked me if I wanted to take a beginner class there and I thought, great I have always wanted to check this place out. We are now taking this class for the third time (slow learners) and my mind is still as crazy as ever. But even though every time I sit I spend most of the time wrestling my mind and trying to bring my focus back to the breath, I do feel like I am getting somewhere. And that somewhere is simply a more peaceful place.
I was able to realize this when the Center shut down for a month after the holidays—even meditation teachers need a break! During that break I completely dropped the small practice I had been maintaining mostly because I had committed to going to the class every Thursday. I didn’t think much about it. And I didn’t connect the dots when I started to have some bouts of anxiety over things that happened to be going on in my life. The picture finally came together when after about two months of doing no meditation I started the class again and made a commitment with another friend to sit for 15 minutes every day for 30 days. Even though the circumstances of my life have not really changed much, I realized about a week into it that my bouts of anxiety had stopped.
This paragraph from an article on The Huffington Post on mindfulness and meditation gives a little bit of an explanation:
“The effects of stress reduction techniques are equally dramatic on our productivity, creativity, energy and performance. And that’s because these tools change the way we think so dramatically that they can be measured biologically. Dr. Richard Davidson is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin and has used MRI machines to study the brain activity of Tibetan monks. As Fortune’s Oliver Ryan reports, “The brain functioning of serious meditators is ‘profoundly different’ from that of non-meditators — in ways that suggest an elevated capacity to concentrate and to manage emotions. [Davidson] calls meditation a ‘kind of mental training.'”
So as I continue with juicing for super nutrition and to clear toxins from my body, I will continue with meditation to clear toxic thoughts from my mind. Even though it may feel like nothing is happening the benefits build up. And maybe you get a few moments unburdened by thought—these are really great moments!