If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “I know I should meditate, but ...” I could buy a private island and retire.
Other frequent comments about meditation include, but are not limited to: “I tried it,” “I am not good at it,” “I don’t have time,” “I sit all day.”
When I put “benefits of meditation” into an internet search bar, I received 217 million results.
According to an article on Healthline.com, stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people practice meditation. The article reports that meditation practice also can control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance self-awareness, lengthen attention span, generate kindness, may reduce age-related memory loss, and may help fight addictions.
The very reasons many people don’t meditate are likely the best reasons why most people would greatly enjoy the benefits of regular meditation.
A meditation student asked the teacher how long enlightenment with diligent meditation would take.
“Ten years,” the teacher said.
“Well, how about if I really worked hard and doubled my effort at it?”
“Twenty years!” was the reply.
Meditation is mindful attention to what is without effort of grasping or aversion. While it has often been misunderstood as a mechanical process of forcing the mind upon some idea or object, meditation is not a wrestling match with your mind. Meditation is more of an opening to your heart.
Meditation, like vehicles, comes in a variety of makes and models. Some of us have tried them all.
Dan Nussbaum is an advocate of open awareness meditation – using no techniques. If you have or have not tried meditation, and even if you have only heard about meditation, perhaps from this poem you will learn enough about meditation to let yourself be inspired:
‘In Meditation You Have Permission’
by Dan Nussbaum
You have permission to do the meditation practice of your choice, or, not do it.
You have permission to do the meditation practice you’ve been doing all along. You have permission to believe in it or question it or enjoy it or let it take you where it takes you.
You have permission to be bored. How else will you ever get to the bottom of boredom? You have permission to try something else.
You have permission to think. You have permission to worry. You have permission to wonder if you’re doing it right.
You have permission to wonder what doing it right means. You have permission to see yourself wondering.
Did you start meditation to become a good meditator? You have permission to do it wrong. But if you have permission to do it wrong, how can you do it wrong? You have permission to be bad.
You have permission to remember what it was like to be carefree. You have permission to doubt those memories.
You have permission to get back to those memories whether you made them up or not. You have permission to know how you make up memories.
You have permission to go over German verbs. You have permission to think about the different grades of motor oil. You have permission to wonder, How is this meditation?
You have permission to note body sensations. You have permission to do something else with body sensations. Love them. Be suspicious of them. Forbid them. Give them meaning. Question that meaning.
You have permission to have feelings. You have permission to need someone, to worry out of habit, to fear vaguely, to feel disgust, to insist on getting things your way. You have permission to let things go on. You have permission to find yourself in unexpected mind states.
You have permission to get lost. You have permission to be curious and interested. You have permission to get transfixed. You have permission to feel calm.
You have permission to feel sleepy. You have permission to sleep. How else will you know about waking up if you don’t have permission to be asleep?
You have permission to know yourself in meditation. You have permission. You have permission. You have permission.
One friend keeps a small box wrapped in attractive paper sitting on a table next to her chair to remind herself that her time in meditation practice each day is a gift she gives to herself.
According to all the benefits of meditation listed online, this gift to yourself is also a gift to the world.
Today’s Insights was written by the Rev. Debra Basham, author of “Stories of My Heart.” Insights is written by area clergy to give different viewpoints on a variety of topics. It is published each Saturday in cooperation with the Berrien County Association of Churches. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of member churches.