We All Meditate
In every thing we do, is the opportunity to bring this focused awareness.
In fact, you are already engaged in some form of meditation. Just discover what. A few of the activities in which we experience this focused awareness are driving, gardening, cooking, walking, dancing, sitting, sex, playing music, exercise, writing, sports, eating, reading, crafting, building, drawing, studying, painting, cleaning, washing dishes: you get the idea.
Feeling emotion deeply is meditation. Notice how when angry, there are times when you have greater focus. Notice when you allow yourself to fully feel and express sadness, how much your mind is focused. When scared, to the extent that you just feel this fear, free of blame or victimization, do you feel alive. Notice also in these instances, just how quickly emotion moves through you, returning you to peace. Emotions are just "energy in motion."
When we allow thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations to be experienced, we are in meditation.
It's when we apply meaning and/or past associations to the experience that we think of the experience as "bad" or painful. In Eastern Mysticism, the distinction is made between physical pain, being a natural part of life and suffering, caused by our overlaying of stories/ meanings/ associations onto the moment. There's nothing to be done, but accept and feel "pain", but suffering, it is said, is optional. Suffering is a choice.
Another way of looking at this is that suffering is caused by the false belief that we are unlovable, no one accepts us, and that we're separate and alone. What I call our "what about me" fears.
Notice when you are in a focused awareness (or meditation) how you have no thoughts about yourself. No thoughts about what you can get from another (no greed or manipulation); no thoughts around why you should hide (there's nothing to hide); no thoughts about any need to defend (there's nothing to defend). There's no "what about me." Notice how you're experiencing a steady flow of focused attention on your activity and how good you feel. In this "flow" or "zone", there's no self-awareness, no separate self, no me verses anyone or anything, no "fight or flight".
"I am not my thoughts, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences. I am not the content of my life. I am Life. I am the space in which all things happen. I am consciousness. I am Now. I Am." ~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness SpeaksThe "Zone".
In one study of athletes "peak experiences" or the "zone", "characteristics included focusing on the present moment, effortless merging of action and awareness, loss of personal ego, sense of control, clear feedback, and an intrinsic reward system. Athletes recalled these special moments during sport participation as salient, highly valued and extremely meaningful.' This "zone" has been studied extensively in sports. while often missed in our day to day activities.
Meditation has it's formal practice as well. You may associate it with the following steps: sit up straight, in the lotus or half lotus position, place your hands on your knees or in your lap. Have a focus, whether it be on a mantra, a geometric design, your breath, or on a given location, like between your eyes or your navel.
When I studied formal meditation, I learned that meditation is one step in a series of steps. This first step being "concentration". I learned that the step of concentration is when one is attempting to bring focus to a certain train of thought, such as repeating a mantra. Think of the analogy of the meditator being like a carriage driver and our thoughts are the team of horses. I think of the stage of concentration as attempting to bring the horses (our thoughts) into alignment. Initially, the horses are heading in all different directions, not unlike an unfocused or confused mind. The next stage is "meditation". In this stage, the "horses" have come into an alignment. We still have thoughts, but we are not pulled in different directions by them. We are peaceful and somewhat detached. In this experience we're not lead by reaction, confusion, or fear. We are motivated more from peace.
Ever been to a sporting event with thousands of people rooting for one of two teams? Quite provocative, right? Lots of energy, lots of excitement. Whenever we are in a group with an aligned focus, our experience is amplified. As the group aligns, we experience an amplification of the peace we experience alone. This is a form of group meditation. Take a look at these amazing results of studies documenting the profound effect on communities, of this dynamic:http://maharishi-programmes.globalgoodnews.com/maharishi-effect/research.html.
My favorite form of group meditation is as a drum circle. An amazing way to align our consciousness, while having great childlike fun. Take a look at this video of a drum circle I had the honor of facilitating:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYvIBpmEFZ8