Pagan Blog Project: M - Meditation

Some people find meditation difficult. I believe this is because they take the wrong approach to it. They see the images of people sitting in full lotus with their eyes closed and no apparent connection with the rest of the world. They read of extremely practiced people who meditate managing to accomplish impressive mental feats. The most impressive, I think, was the level of discipline and control exhibited by the Buddhist monk who lit himself on fire in protest of the mistreatment of the Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government in 1963. These are exceptional people who have accomplished exceptional feats of the mind.

A novice should not expect themselves to accomplish this. They will be quickly frustrated and disappointed. Quite possibly enough so to never attempt meditation again. Meditation, however, is a simple practice that serves to help sharpen the mind and quiet the spirit. It is something that can be done with out any emphasis upon belief in any 'higher' entity. It is simply a mental exercise that can be beneficial for most anyone who endeavors to engage in it. There has been serious scientific study that has verified this claim to be accurate.

A quick search about the internet shows that much has been written for the lay person about how to engage in meditation. I will not rehash that material, because it has been more then sufficiently covered by others. Instead, I wish to share with you my experience with meditation.

One of my favorite forms of meditation is walking meditation. I focus upon the physical sensations of walking and on my environment. It is not as 'deep' of a form of meditation as others, but I find it quite enjoyable and an excellent form of stress reduction. I combine the positive endorphins from light exercise with mindful attentiveness to my environment. More often then not, I find myself noticing things like small flowers along the sidewalk, the pleasant way light slants through the trees, or the smiles of people having a pleasant conversation as they are waiting in their cars for the light to change.

Another active form of meditation that I enjoy is spinning. I'm not referring to the popular exercise but rather the craft of making thread from raw fiber. Part of the reason why I enjoy it, I admit, is the fact that it is a simple, repetitive task that I find relaxing. I am sure that other people find knitting to be soothing for the same reason. I find myself able to go into a 'deeper' meditative state whilst spinning because my attention is more focused upon a single act. At times, I may combine spinning with walking, and then it is just as if I am doing my usual walking meditation.

I also have a more restive form of meditation that I find highly pleasurable. That, quite simply, is prayer. Sitting in quiet, contemplative prayer is more like the image of meditation that people expect. I don't sit in a special posture. (My arthritic knees don't let me get into full lotus and at times make it hard to sit with my legs crossed on the floor, sadly.) I close my eyes to help cut distractions. Sometimes, I have a set of prayer beads on hand. I will use them to count my prayers to help me stick to a certain time frame for meditation.

Any action done with mindful attention can be meditation. If you are mindful and attentive while washing the dishes, this is a meditative act. If you are mindful and attentive while reading a book, this is a meditative act. The beautiful thing about meditation is how it can be anything you need it to be.

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