Monday, February 18, 2013

Challenging Times - Meeting the Challenge

Regardless of our political views, we seem to sense deep unrest all around us. Trouble around the world, senseless murders of children, weather anomalies here where I am in New York, affect us on a large scale. On the other side of the scale, we face the stresses of everyday life - work, money, family challenges,  email, social media, never-ending texts. We have very little time for reflection, yet, these are the times when we need it the most. Some of us choose reflective paths - Meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga, Qigong.

Many of us have chosen to expand those reflections and to consider what we might do to counteract the powerful negative energies that we feel around us. We feel an inner unraveling - a profound and deep sense of loss within ourselves. This loss would not heal by external factors, but rather, by a change in how we conduct ourselves and our lives.

For the many of us who engage in "spiritual" practices, our meditations became deeper and more meaningful. Yes, the stress and tensions in our bodies were eased during meditation, but, as we continued to practice, the easing began to change our minds and hearts as well. We know that there is evil, and the horrors around us overshadow something very important - that there is also GOODNESS. Meditation helped us rekindle that awareness.

We saw Goodness after 9/11 - Goodness was chosen over evil, acceptance over anger, peacefulness, with strength, over conflict. At the same time, we were stronger, more self-aware, more able to confront the challenges that we all face, and to overcome the "slings and arrows" that life tosses at us.

What connection is all of this to "breath, body, balance?" Frankly, everything. As a nation, and as individuals, we were thrown of our centers, threatened and enraged, confused and unsure. It became necessary to realign ourselves inwardly, and to remember that we ARE happy, productive, loving, and caring people. The situation forced us to examine ourselves.

Our desire to feel at ease with the world is a very strong one. It seems to be far easier to become anxious than it is to stay (or become) relaxed. Anger comes more readily than acceptance. Sadness seems to come easily - happiness must be cultivated.

One of the most profound, yet rather simple methods that I use, and have used with hundreds of people, is Metta Meditation. It is four statements repeated over and over. However, it is not merely the statements that are important.

It is our INTENT, our awareness, and our bringing the statements to fruition in our awareness.

Start practicing this. Start with 10-minute sessions. Here are some helpful hints:

1. Put your whole heart into each statement - MEAN IT
2. Allow other thoughts to come and go - DON'T CONTROL THEM
3. Clearly visualize the person to whom you are directing the meditation. The clearer and more detailed the image, the more profound the meditation will be.

You can replace "I" with "YOU" or "THEY" as you wish. For example, you can direct the meditation toward yourself, toward someone else, or to an entire group of people.

Find 10 minutes every day to practice this. If it is helpful to you, jot down notes afterward. Write about how you felt, where your mind went, and how your body feels. Don't make it an ASSIGNMENT. Allow it to be a natural outcome of the practice. See how your responses change over time.


May I Be Safe
May I Have Peace of Mind
May I Have Physical Well-Being
May I Have Ease of Being

Special Note:
I work with many people who are facing serious health challenges. They use this meditation frequently. They do the meditation before undergoing a treatment or surgery. It helps them stay grounded,calm, and deeply reduces their fears and anxieties.

I am confident that it will help you as well.