In search of peace of mind … I’ve tried everything. Meditation. Mindfulness. Mindless drugs and mind-numbing alcohol. Yoga. Sex. Music.
Mindfulness and meditation are two sides of the same coin … they share similarities, yet they have different approaches.
Meditation predates prayer in religion, originating as sounds and chants or mantras.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on right in the moment. You can be mindful with your first cup of morning tea or coffee. Imagine the leaves or beans have been harvested with love for you. Close your eyes, wrap your hands around your favourite mug, and experience the warmth. Breathe in the scent. Let your mind and mouth linger on the taste. Just be. Don’t let your mind wander ahead to your massive to do list, nor let it skitter to the side to derail you with fear and anxiety. Don’t think about yesterday, tomorrow, or even today. Just sit and experience the stillness of time.
There are also mindful and meditative breathing techniques to learn. They release us from our depression, anxiety and chronic sleep disorders, which are considered at epidemic levels. While I prefer the rhythmic 123 breathing, listen to Max Strom teach his Inner Axis breathing technique of 4-7-8 in his TEDx Talk. Love his deep voice!
For all of our material wins and losses … we are no happier. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that depression and anxiety will steal the top place from cardiovascular disease as the world’s leading health disorder by 2020.
I have practiced yoga on and off for 15 years. For me, yoga encourages breathing and mindfulness rather than meditation, but you can choose your state of mind. Yoga has the added benefit of stretches and exercises to strengthen your core, back and legs. I thank yoga for my supple flexibility and lack of back pain.
Sex is another divine way to accomplish mindfulness. Be here and now with your partner. Not ticking off a mental list of tomorrow’s to do list. Turn off the distractions and silence the intrusions. Relax. Connect. Enjoy.
Allow yourself to listen to a variety of music for each mind game.
I prefer something soulful like Soulmerge by Ashana when I pray. This music feels like it connects me to the Maker. I close my eyes and visualize our ethereal connection with stardust and shimmering skies.
When I meditate with a sound or chant, I need something basic and primal like PowerThought’s Solfeggio 852 & 963 Hz with drums. Only then can I purely focus on “OM”. By the way, OM or AUM is considered the original sound vibration of the Universe. OM is not a short, sharp sound. It lingers and ripples out like waves. This sound is supposed to resonate deep within and carry your consciousness to the cosmos while grounding you with Mother Earth. It fills you … pushing out any other thought.
I struggled for years to understand meditation as a means of emptying your mind. The closest I have come to that is living in my mind’s eye with “OM”.
Meditation with a purpose feels more like Hypnosis. Where I want my conscious mind to think and experience thoughts to imprint on my subconscious or unconscious mind. For this, I use specific guided meditation audios and videos. You can find guidance on almost anything … healing your body, quitting bad habits, for blissful sleep and relaxation. Imagery has been used in business and sports for ages. Visualize what you want to achieve.
I’ve begun to do this every night after writing in my journal. Beats earphones in my ear, I start a play list of guided meditation on healing. I lay down in my bed, get totally comfortable with my pillows, sheets and fluffy duvet, then start some breathing exercises. I calm myself, clear my mind and listen intently to the speaker as he or she leads me through the journey. I bring up my specific mental images in my conscious mind … the broken bone which needs to heal … the cancerous cells which have to destruct under chemo and radiation. I am brave and limitless in my mind.
If I want to guide myself through to a meditative or hypnotic state, I like soft, soothing music like Yellow Brick Cinema’s Study Music Alpha Waves.
If I just want to fall asleep, I will listen to sounds of nature – thunderstorms, rain, seashore waves, and dolphins.
It’s too bad religions point angrily at the others’ practices. Each meditation or prayer is a path to – ultimately – the same God. OM is AUM. As in Amen. Or Islam’s Amin.
Call it what you will … but try it. Breathe in … Breathe out … Still your thoughts … Be in the here and now … Be in the present … Then visualize a better tomorrow.
Peace within. Peace without.