Calm Mind Meditation
Calm mind – Calm world
I am often asked why I mediate and my answer has remained the same since I began in the 1970’s. I meditate because it works to calm my mind. This is how I describe the type of meditation I teach to others which is based upon my own spiritual journey, hence the name Calm Mind Meditation.
Calm Mind Meditation entails learning to quiet the mind by focusing first on the inhale and then on the exhale slowly repeating the mantra calm. Learning to regulate and calm oneself is that simple, but not always easy to do. Simple, because your always have your breath with you, not easy because of all of the excuses, too busy, no time, no quiet place or “ I forgot” to meditate. Think of this practice as your daily spiritual vitamin, something you take every day to feel healthy as you would take any of your vitamins or supplements
I find that many of my students often have the same frustration starting out; their minds wander because their thoughts take over. I completely understand because even after thirty years of practice I still have similar experiences. It helps to remind my students that meditation is a practice, and like anything else, if you don’t practice, you will not develop the habit or expertise. It is empowering for many to be reminded that they can choose to make time to practice daily.
In the first class I always give each student a polished stone, this is to be a reminder to mediate. I suggest they put the stone in a place where it will be seen first thing in the morning; maybe near their toothbrush, by the coffee or tea cup. This will serve as a reminder to meditate. Often the students become frustrated because their minds have trouble calming down, even following their breath. Rather than setting themselves up to fail, my advice is to start slow, just aim for 3-5 minutes at first and increase the practice as they become more comfortable to 20 minutes a day.
This meditation provides a safe place to become quiet and still, allowing ourselves the opportunity to listen to what the mind and body are telling us. So often we forget to listen to ourselves, to trust that inner voice that guides us on life's journey. It is a combination of honoring yourself through loving-kindness and the realization that all we attain to be is inside of us already. And through a regular practice of meditation, we calm and free our minds and hearts of what we do not need (anger, envy, hatred, sorrow etc.) and thereby creating a place in our heart for love, compassion, joy, happiness, and forgiveness.
By obtaining present awareness we can recognize the actuality of things, not the story our minds create, thereby achieving a mind and heart that is calm and stable and can remain peaceful if a struggle should arise.
To quote Shunryu Suzuki from the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:
“Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself.”
Perspective from a wheelchair….. An interview with someone with Cerebral Palsy since birth:
As a meditation teacher I often use guided meditations as a means to help center and quiet the mind.
It has been my experience that the most popular guided meditations are “walking on the beach” at day break and the “mountain” meditation. Both of these meditations require the ability to walk.
That may sound normal, but what if you are physically disabled and your only means of getting around is a wheelchair. The sand and or climbing a mountain just might be an activity that they just can’t do.
It is easy to take for granted the ability to move around freely without needing someone to push you from place to place. Using these types of guided meditations during the course I teach on Calm Mind Meditation, it never even occurred to me that not everyone in the class is capable of imaging what walking in the sand feels like or climbing that mountain feeling the earth below your feet until I met Andy.
Andy is a student of meditation, he is extremely bright, funny and kind, and he has cerebral palsy, because of that he is confined to a wheelchair. I have gotten to know him pretty well over the years and do not even see him as disabled, just a grown man who genuinely believes in the practice and all of the benefits meditation delivers.
We got to talking recently and he finally shared with me his thoughts on the guided meditations that involve imaging yourself walking or climbing and how he can’t relate. That was a real eye opener for me and it got me thinking how I can be a better meditation guide/teacher.
Andy was kind enough to let me interview him, to get a disabled person’s perspective. I asked him some questions. I’d like to share the interview with the readers of this blog.
1. Why did you start meditating?
To combat anxiety and depression.
2.How long have you been practicing?
3.How often do you meditate?
Daily – Sometimes twice a day for 20 minutes. If the weather is good outside or in my bedroom.
4.What has changed for you since you have been meditating?
I’ve had less anxiety and my depression episodes have been less frequent.
5.Has meditation effected your relationships with others, explain.
I think that meditation has made me more caring. I do lot o random acts of kindness for friends of mine. (I’m one of those lucky ones)
6.Being in a wheelchair, has that had a bearing on your practice?
Yes, it’s one of the few things I can do independently. It also helps me relate to able-bodied people….both things I like.
7.Would you recommend meditation to other physically disabled people, why?
Certainly, it can be done without assistance from others and it doesn’t need to be adapted in any way if an individual has spastic cerebral palsy like myself, it would help to relax him or her.
8.What are the benefits you have gained from meditating?
I’ve been less frustrated and calmer. Meditation puts me in a better state of mind.