Meditation is about starting again

January 27, 2019

The medical research community has been abuzz with new reasons to look more closely at the practice of meditation and its benefits. From improved mood to pain relief, the data on meditation is pretty fascinating. But when someone says the word meditation, most of us tend to think about clearing our minds. Since clearing our minds is basically impossible, when we think about meditation with that mindset we will, more than likely, become frustrated with the practice and give up.

Meditation is actually about starting again. We focus our attention on one thing, and when we get distracted, we notice that we are distracted, then we start again. One of my favorite writers and meditation enthusiasts Dan Harris calls this a “mental bicep curl.” I really like that term a lot. The more we bring our attention back and refocus it on the breath or other sensations, the more we build our brain’s concentration muscle.

We don’t need to sit in a fancy posture or be by the ocean or any of the other things that meditation is unfortunately portrayed as. I routinely meditate for a few minutes in my car, after parking it of course. I’ve meditated on a plane and in my backyard while my neighbors were having their roof replaced. Since meditation is for the most part about focusing, noticing when we are distracted and then starting again, we can pretty much do that anytime and anywhere we want to.

If you are interested in starting a meditation practice, I would suggest starting with Vipassana meditation, or insight meditation as it is commonly translated. Check out the book “Mindfulness In Plain English” by Bhante Gunaratana, a Sri Lankan born Buddhist monk that resides in West Virginia, by the way. Try out a meditation group at Studio 8 in Huntington or PeaceTree Center in Barboursville.

If you prefer a stripped down, practical approach to meditation, try Dan Harris’s 10 percent Happier app or grab one of his books. Use your breath as the focus of your meditation and begin again. Do that for 10 minutes or more every day. That might not sound like much, but from my own experience, I can truly say that it made a very big impact on my life in some pretty amazing ways.

Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist and co-owner of Tulsi at The Market in Huntington. He has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for over 14 years. He can be contacted at travislemonmh@gmail.com.

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