This was the favorite meditation of the students in the class I led for 10 years. I made a audio track of it for people I know who are working to help those who are suffering as it can provide a lot of spiritual support. The track is short so you can use it easily during the day. If you loop the track make sure to take some big breaths and stretch when you finish listening to get fully alert. Also do not use it while operating machinery.
I work with many people who struggle with a sense of being uneasy, fearful, nervous, anxious, restless, on edge, tense, etc. Essentially these are all fear in some form or another. Relaxation exercises do not help because while they may give temporary relief, the fear comes right back.
One common complaint I hear is the sense that the person is trapped in their thoughts, especially worried thoughts. This is a technique to train your mind to shift attention away from thoughts into your body, without trying to stop thoughts. It teaches you to get out of your head. The more skill you have shifting your attention away from thoughts to sensations the easier it will be to ignore worried or other unhelpful thoughts without having to stop them or change them. Continue reading Escaping From Thoughts – Fast→
Meditation techniques train various mental qualities. We can use the qualities for many purposes. Spiritual traditions emphasize that the most important purpose for meditation is spiritual practice, and the development of qualities such as love or peace. The following meditation begins as a relaxing breathing exercise and then flows from that to an experience of a peaceful presence.
If you want to download the audio you should be able to at Soundcloud by clicking on the Soundcloud link in the top menu.
This is a somewhat extended meditation technique that goes into a bit of detail about a method for training the mind to be able to disengage from repetitive or irritating thoughts. The particular focus in the meditation is to help disengage from thoughts about comfort food.
Many people who are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression relate to the world as if it is hostile, or likely to become hostile at any moment. This increases their stress, anxiety or depression which can make the world feel even more hostile. Accurate or not, this is definitely not helpful. Continue reading Meditation on a Friendly Universe→
It’s been a busy week. One of the frequent questions that came up was about quieting the mind and how exhausting, or even impossible that can be.
This is exhausting because we are trying to quiet our experiences not our mind. We try to suppress or stop our thoughts, sensations, feelings, memories or imaginings. But those are not our mind. Those are the contents of our mind. We don’t quiet our mind by shutting down its experiences. We quiet our mind by being calm even when we are having experiences. We develop a calm presence even in the midst of chaos. Continue reading The Mind and the TV Sets→
There are many ways of using meditation to deal with pain. Many of them involve some form of distraction, placing your attention elsewhere. However, often our attention can be stuck focusing on the pain. In that case it can help to go with that and use the fact that every sensory experience, even pain, will vary from moment to moment.
This meditation technique help you reduce the perception of pain by paying selective attention to rapid and subtle decreases in the level of pain. At first the reductions are small and short, but with practice they will become larger and longer. As we practice this we train our brain to become better at reducing pain.
We tend to hold our bodies more tense than we need to and releasing that excess tension can help us relax and feel more comfortable. It can also help relieve pain, especially musculoskeletal pain.
To use this technique think of something soft and imagine one part of the body taking on that quality of softness more and more with each exhalation. After a few breaths pause and note how your body feels. Then either repeat that with the same part of the body, or allow a different part of the body to come to mind and let that part get softer for a few breaths. Continue to do this with various parts of your body shifting from one to another in a somewhat playful manner.
I have had a number of people tell me recently that they can’t meditate because they can’t empty their mind. Fortunately you can meditate and benefit from meditating without emptying your mind. (Personally I think that emptying the mind is useless or worse.)
Our mind does a lot of wonderful things for us, and it also does things that are not so helpful. Instead of emptying the mind, meditation allows us to explore our mind and cultivate helpful processes so our mind does more helpful things and fewer unhelpful things.
The following meditation is a brief introduction to this idea of exploring the mind.
Think of a garden. If the garden is full of weeds, then it is not very helpful. However, emptying the garden is not helpful either. We need to cultivate the garden, making the environment more conducive to growing flowers, fruits and vegetables and caring for those plants. Continue reading We Meditate to Explore the Mind, NOT Empty It→
I have had a couple of patients in 12-step recovery working on a closer relationship with their Higher Power. They were having trouble with the sense of distance that the words “Higher Power” created in that relationship. Their Higher Power was up there and didn’t really want to be bothered.
Another way of looking at this is that this presence wants a close and intimate relationship with you. We can instead call it a Holy Presence or HP for short. This relationship is supposed to be close, friendly, casual and loving. You might think of your HP as someone who enjoys communicating with you, in ways like the texts and photos that you might send to close friends or family.
When we cultivate this kind of relationship we are much less likely to feel alone. We also get used to listening to that presence and allowing it to have a healthy influence on what we are attracted to, how we treat ourselves and others and our choices.
This relationship, an intimate and ongoing relationship with a sacred presence, can benefit us even if we do not have an addiction.
Contemplation Health Performance Relationships Spirituality