Meditation For Those In Chaos
Each of us exists to be in some degree of chaos. The more chaotic our existence is, the harder it is to maintain the inner calmness needed to meditate. However, meditation is a necessary tool. It can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, promote emotional and physical well-being and allow you to become aware of who you really are as a Soul.
Here, we will explore possible meditation solutions that can be incorporated in the busiest lifestyle. First, before we take you through the how and where of meditating in chaos, we want you to know that it will not be a traditional trip that most of today's tapes take you on ... of sterile white walled rooms, with flowing robes, soft chiming music and alluring incense ... nor to a beautiful patch of grass in a quiet corner of the yard with the warm sun shinning on your face, the sweet scent of newly blossomed flowers, or the sound of birds softly chirping on a near by branch. Instead, to emphasize the possibility of meditating anywhere at anytime, we will take you on a brief journey into the chaotic world of your everyday life.
As a working people and busy mothers, the greatest
meditation hurtle is finding the place, the quiet and
the time to practice. Some of us also have an additional
disadvantage of being self employed. Now you're probably
saying to yourself, "Ha! What's so difficult about that,
I wish I were self employed. Hey, I could make my own
hours. It would be great!" If so, imagine no scheduled work lunch breaks when you can tune it all out, no quiet ride to and from work, nothing but endless demands, refusals, disagreements, teaching, working deadlines, etc.! Now imagine this routine from sun up to sun down, seven days a week. Are you there yet?
I think you get the message, so let's get started. So, you've purchased tapes, CDs, videos, books, etc. How do we know that? We at our center talk to a lot of people that either simply do not have the extra money for meditation classes, and most of the time it is just them and their ability to absorb the information in a tape or book, while listening and reading under ceaseless interruptions, or late at night when your eyes no longer want to focus. You would love to do this ... to meditate, to taste calm peacefulness ... but these tapes and books tell you that you must clear a regular place, a regular time and most importantly, a quiet spot. Some tell us that they don't even have a closet to sit in, let alone a quiet private space. And mothers with growing children ... well, it's almost an impossibility because by the time the children are all taken care of and finally to bed, they need to sleep themselves. And sometimes, even after the children are angelically slumbering, the older members of their family get their turn to have her undivided attention. Since you're reading this, I'm sure that you're one of these that I've mentioned here, and finally when you are able to be alone, you throw yourself down in the nearest, least cluttered space to meditate. You pull the last of your remaining stamina up, straighten your back, close your eyes, glorify in the long awaited silence around you and .... fall asleep!!!
OK, enough of what you already know. Here's the how and where. The following meditation methods are ones that we have recommended people like yourself to incorporate into their lives. As your life is different, alterations may need to be made. Do what feels best for you. These are the three types of meditating in chaos that seem to work best:
(1) Focused Meditation
(2) Healing Meditation
(3) Interactive Meditation.
Like any meditation, all three require concentration, calmness and consistency to work effectively. Concentration is the key to calmness and through consistency we create an increased ability to more easily control our concentration, making your sojourns into meditation steadily less difficult. The act of concentrating creates the inner calmness that allows the state of meditation to exist, even in chaos.
Let's first address the first technique of Focused Meditation and it''s three degrees of concentration. Although all types of meditation that we are familiar with, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and leave one with a sense of peace and self control, focused meditation creates a sense of disciplined control that seems to have the greatest influence over calming and mastering the mind, the emotions and the body. It is also the basic format behind the two other meditations and greatly enhances their effectiveness.
Focused Meditation relies on the minds ability to concentrate or focus on any given thing. Traditional meditation methods stress the importance of using ones concentration in meditation, to move inward while excluding all external influences. It also stresses consistency in the format of doing this usually three times a day, for preferably an hour each time. This aspect of meditation can be very difficult when trying to use in an active environment like some of those mentioned. Therefore, to try and compensate for the inability to make this time available, it helps to learn how to meditate with three degrees of concentration.
The key for all levels of meditation concentration is centered on the breath. Here are the three methods used to achieve varying degrees of calmness in Focused Meditation. We will start with the most difficult ... (A) Deep Focused Meditation. You will get the best results if you can find the quietest, least active and hopefully the least used place in your environment. A large closet that you can empty out, a space you can clear in the attic or basement, or even a wall in the bedroom.
Make this spot yours. Mark it in some way to establish to others and to your own mind that when you enter this space, it is to become calm and focused. Here's an example, but follow your own longings when creating yours. Clear an area that is at least around 4'' wide and 2''6"" deep, along a wall. This may be beneath a window with just enough room to spread a rug and place a narrow shelf on the wall. You can fold a quilt on top of a rug to allow you to sit cross legged or in the lotus pose comfortably, for extended periods of time. A window would serve as both a source of natural light and to help give the illusion that you are not confined within the room. When you meditate, it's good to face the window. Just beneath the window is the shelf. It can contain candles, incense, some rocks, a small CD player and a few spiritual and holistic books perhaps. Once you have established your space (even if it is just a chair in the corner), you are ready to find the time.
The best time for you is when you know there will be a lull in activity for at least 10 minutes, though preferably an hour. You may have to wait until everyone is asleep, or get up earlier than your family. When you first start meditating, you will find that it is difficult to even sit still for 5 minutes. You have become so used to doing or interacting with something or someone, that stopping and doing nothing is almost painful.
Now that you are ready to begin, start with your posture. The most important part is to keep your back straight and your head up. You may prefer to sit on a chair, or cross legged on the floor, or in a traditional pose, such as the lotus position. It also seems to work best if you place your hands on your thighs. Sometimes I place them palms up, sometimes with index and thumb touching. Do what you feel guided to do. I know some people who lay down and manage to stay awake. Most of us are not that focused and therefore must remain upright.
When you have chosen the position that is best for you, close your eyes or partially close them and let your gaze relax. It will usually gently turn upward and inward and will happen naturally, so do not stress yourself. Now turn your attention on your breath. Breathe through your nose if possible. Follow your breath as it flows in and out. If thoughts enter your head, acknowledge them and dissolve them and re-focus on the breath. Spend several minutes just being one with your breath. After a number of tries, you will notice your body relaxing, your mind stilling. Continue to notice how the breath feels flowing in and flowing out. If you are like most, you will not be able to do this for more than a few minutes at first, but with each attempt, you will notice an improved ability.
When you reach the point where you can sit long enough to become relaxed, which usually happens after about 5 to 10 minutes of concentrating on the breath, than you are ready to expand your concentration beyond your breath. To do this, continue to focus on the breath, but also try to notice your gaze. Keeping your gaze relaxed, allow yourself to look at what you see, either on the backs of your closed eye lids, or at what your unfocused gaze yields if you have your eyes partially opened. Do not try to shift or tense your eyes, keep them in a relaxed state. If you see nothing, that is fine, just look at nothing, notice nothing, concentrate on nothing. If you see something, notice it without shifting your gaze. For example; if you see a glowing or pulsing light, focus on it, try to penetrate it while keeping your gaze relaxed. Try to influence it with your will. Focus your thoughts at it. Try to expand it and pass through it. This expanding of your concentration, or awareness, to include your vision, is the deepest form of meditation most experience. It is at this point that you become aware of what is known as the Christ Consciousness ... or spiritual third eye ... or an altered state of consciousness which consists of entering the sub consciousness and super conscious mind, while in a conscious state. This is the state where some experience what some call divine revelation ... a deep peaceful sojourn ... bliss.
As you observe your gaze, you will eventually notice that your breath begins to become less obvious. It becomes slow and shallow. And with consistency, it will begin to flow so slowly and so lightly that it becomes almost non existent. And for reference, remember that when the breath slows, the heart rate slows, the blood pressure lowers, muscles relax and the emotional state calms.
There are many postures and breathing techniques that can be used to further assist in obtaining the altered state of deep meditation. However, they are too numerous to be addressed in this writing.
Medium Focused Meditation
This type of meditation can be done anytime you can find a few minutes to stop your activities. It is effective in an active environment.
As before, start with your posture. The most important part is to keep your back straight and your head up. You may prefer to sit on a chair, or stand still at a window. It also seems to work best if you place your hands on, or at your thighs. Do what you feel guided to do.
When you have chosen the position that is best for you, close your eyes or partially close them and let your gaze relax. Now turn your attention on your breath. Breathe through your nose if possible. Follow your breath as it flows in and out. If thoughts enter your head, acknowledge them and dissolve them and re-focus on the breath. Spend several minutes just being one with your breath. You will notice your body relaxing, your mind stilling. Continue to notice how the breath feels flowing in and flowing out. Remember that when the breath slows, the heart rate slows, the blood pressure lowers, muscles relax and emotions calm.
Shallow Focused Meditation
This type of meditation can be done anytime, or anywhere. It is the easiest to do in the work environment or in public, as it is not obvious that you are meditating.
As before, check your posture. The most important part is to keep your back straight and your head up. Focus your gaze on a distant object. It can be the clock on the wall, a window, a picture. Now turn your attention on your breath. Follow it as it flows in and out. If thoughts enter your head, acknowledge them and dissolve them and re-focus on the breath. You will notice your body relaxing, your mind stilling. Continue to notice how the breath feels flowing in and flowing out. Remember that when the breath slows, the heart rate slows, the blood pressure lowers, muscles relax and emotions calm.
Regular daily Deep Focused Meditations are best, but you can still achieve some results by letting your consistency be acquired through quick snatches and in varying degrees.
Please note: We are not stating that the traditional methods are wrong. On the contrary, we would love to have our way paid to a life long retreat, and humble ourselves as devoted students before a divine teacher. There are many like this who actually long for the strict monastic life. But like so many others, responsibilities have tied us into direct social interaction.
We hope that these recommendations will help you. If you have trouble overcoming any meditation difficulties, perhaps you might consider participating in Reiki or other energy balancing techniques or even hypnosis to alieve some of the stresses in your life that are the root to such difficulties.