My meditation trees

I’ve seen many, many articles and stories about “How to Meditate” with different techniques for meditation. While they can be useful, you don’t really need any of them.

In fact, I’ll bet you money you’ve meditated many times in your life.

No? Have you ever been “in the zone”, so focused on what you were doing/reading/thinking that time flew by? Not daydreaming so much, but absorbed by what was in front of you? That is meditation. Totally focused concentration on an object. It’s not just hocus-pocus, either. Meditation has been studied by scientists for years. You can read two interesting articles about meditation and brainwaves here and here.

I have a hard time doing formal sitting meditation. I’ve tried incorporating it at various times during my day, but either it’s too early/late and I get sleepy, or it’s the middle of the day and I’m constantly interrupted (or at work – it’s too weird trying to meditate in a fabric box with no door, and I’ve seriously freaked people out when they walk in on me). Someday I’d like to establish a sitting meditation practice, but until then I have fit meditation into my day wherever I can. For example, if I’m walking to the ladies’ room at work I will choose to use the one that is farther away, and use the time to walk mindfully, breathing deep breaths and noting the various smells/sights/sounds I meet along the way. When I’m home washing dishes, I try to pay attention to each dish, feeling the smoothness of it under my sponge with the warm water tumbling over my hands. When I do have time to sit, I try to just sit and let my thoughts enter and exit my mind without letting them lead me off into some stream of consciousness that is no longer “just sitting”. You can even meditate watching your kids play in the yard… just leave them alone, stop thinking about how you have to pick up milk, and enjoy watching them being kids.

With this approach, anything can be a meditation – a practice most often associated with Thich Naht Hahn, a Vietnamese monk, Zen master, peace activist, and poet. He’s written many books, one of my favorites being The Miracle of Mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves”  ~Thich Naht Hahn

The act of meditation, when done consistently, will help you master that “monkey mind” we all suffer from. The mind that jumps from one stream of thoughts to another, distracting us and allowing us those knee-jerk reactions that do nothing to serve us. Meditation teaches us to control our mind, put the monkey on a leash. Not only is it good for your mental state and your peace, but the act of deep concentration can have physical benefits as well.

Can you think of a time when you’ve been so deep into something, you were almost woozy when you finally looked up from it, and shocked to realize the day flew by? Leave your stories in the comments.