Tai Chi remains one of my favorite forms of meditation, however it is too time consuming, and having not done it in such a long time, I have forgotten most of it. Furthermore, it requires so much dedication to truly do it correctly, there are many nuanced movements that need continual refinement.
I am not dedicated enough.
After I quit Tai Chi, I explored a variety of techniques, but wasn't able to "quiet my mind". I used to say, "how can I think about nothing when nothing is something and I'm not supposed to think of something" and so the circle continued. I did not do anything for a while, and then one day I happened upon a labyrinth.
At first I thought it would be impossible, and then slowly, gradually I began to like the silence. It was "Insight" mediation with Sharon Salzberg that really got me to sit for longer periods of time.
I will never forget my first full day of silence. I thought I was going to explode. After sitting for 20 minutes, walking for 20 minutes, listening to the teacher discuss meditation, and repeating this pattern several times, by about the 4th repetition I was inwardly screaming, feeling as if I was going to go crazy. Practice is what has enabled these feelings to subside.
The key word is "practice" - meditators develop their practice.
Before, I had to have a timer when I sat. Now I sit without a timer, offering myself whatever I need in way of meditation. Usually, I sit for 20-30 minute increments.
There is a saying I have heard over the years:
"If you don't have time to meditate for 20 minutes, then meditate for an hour." I cannot stress the value of this expression.
I rarely do insight meditation anymore. Instead, I practice "centering prayer" though some would say they are the same thing. While they are similar, they differ in that Centering Prayer has God, and the insight meditation I was doing before, does not. Centering Prayer is sitting in the presence and action of God within me, as me and through me.
I love it. I find I am a kinder, more gentle person when I practice Centering Prayer.
Research abounds regarding the importance of meditation to health and well-being. Here is a link with "10 Important Reasons to Start Making Time for Silence, Rest and Solitude"
Lately I am called not only to centering prayer, but other contemplative techniques as spiritual practices. I will write more about this in coming posts.
Where do you find stillness in our busy world?
- I am grateful for Sharon Salzberg.
- I am grateful for InsightLA.
- I am grateful for Father Keating.
- I am grateful for Thomas Merton.
- I am grateful for God.