Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Challenge of Meditation

To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.
Deepak Chopra

It seems like wherever you turn you hear about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.  Articles abound. And while I tend to be leery of things when there's so much hype, I think it's pretty hard to ignore the fact that meditation has been around for thousands of years and will continue on for thousands more (with or without all of the hoopla). Studies have shown that a regular practice of meditation can aid in lowering blood pressure, improve our immune systems and brain functions, and minimize pain sensitivity. A regular practice of meditation can be extremely beneficial to our overall well being.

After Matthew died, both my husband and I took a mindfulness meditation series. We were looking for something that would help us learn to calm our minds, and possibly ease the pain of grief we were feeling. The fragility and impermanence of life had been thrust upon us and we needed something to help us find meaning in it all. We both found mindfulness meditation to be incredibly helpful. And while my husband has continued on with a regular meditation routine, I have been spotty in my own practice. Yet I know when I meditate first thing in the morning, I feel better all day long. So last Sunday evening, I happened upon an article by Deepak Chopra called the 7 Myths of Meditation. It had a lot of good points and it re-inspired me to try again. At the end of the article they had a 21-Day Meditation Challenge, which I immediately signed up for. It all seemed quite fortuitous as the challenge was to begin the following day (Monday, March 11), and I was ready. For me, "challenges" work really well as they help me set up a routine that can otherwise elude me.

So far I'm four days into the challenge, and I have managed to meditate every day. Each morning I receive an e-mail  with a "Centering Thought" for the day. The thought for today was "I trust the wisdom of my body." Deepak Chopra does a nice introduction for each thought (he has a very soothing voice), and then you have the meditation. It's been a lovely, centering way to start my day. Two of the mornings I've meditated in the quiet room on the ferry and found the gentle rocking to be a really nice companion to the meditation. If you are interested in participating in the Challenge, their website says that it's not too late to join. 

For me, I find it far too easy to get distracted by things on the internet, my phone and all of the "conveniences" that seem to be a part of life in 2013. I have found that by living more mindfully, the ubiquitous chatter and clutter begin to fall away. It's amazing that by sitting quietly for just fifteen minutes a day, one can start to achieve a calm and quiet mind. With practice, the ability to be more mindful and live more in the moment is attainable.

Finally, while I'm on the subject of mindfulness I do want to share one of the  grief books that I turned to a lot during that first year. It's called "Grieving Mindfully" by Sameet Kumar. If you have the need for a grief book, or know someone who might benefit from one, I highly recommend this one. His words resonated with me at the time (and still do).  I'll end with a quote:  

Mindfulness helps you develop a sense of patience with and acceptance of the ups and downs of grief. As you continue on your grief journey, your practice of mindfulness meditation and mindfulness activities also deepens. This is in part because grief heightens your awareness of life in general, as does mindfulness. Each moment develops a delicate, precious potential that is far beyond our tendency to take "small" things for granted and live in anticipation of future tasks and events. (p.144). 


  1. Thank you for this reminder Robin. I have practiced a form of mindfulness meditation called contemplative prayer for the last twenty years. I can honestly say that when my wife, Sarah, died suddenly, all that I had was my practice. I went through with it because it was all I could do. No expectation, no hope, I just knew that this was SOMETHING I could do so I did it. The silence was ultimately healing. In many ways I believe it saved my life, or at least brought me back fully into life. Like you, I find it increasingly difficult to disengage from my overly connected life. Contemplative prayer is such an ingrained part of who I am that this is perhaps the only way that I can enter a space that is truly spacious, open, and ultimately restorative to my soul I had no idea that this gift would serve me so well. Now I have no worries that I will lose this practice. It is a part of who I am. My only response is deep gratitude.

  2. Thanks Jeff. Reading your words makes me realize just how right this is for me. I look forward to the day when it too "is a part of who I am."