WHEN SHOULD WE MEDITATE?

The question of when to meditate can be answered with a quick “whenever you can”.  However that is an answer easier said than put into practice.  In an ideal world our lives would have sufficient unencumbered time to do everything we want, when we want to do it.  Today, that is hardly the case, we rush, from waking through the day keeping up with all of our obligations until we fall into bed at night and hopefully a restful sleep. With all of this busyness, when do we find time to create and maintain a meditation practice? 

We have all been told how important it is to meditate daily.  The benefits are well documented, the reduction in stress, anxiety, an increase in a calm wellbeing and the achievement of a tranquility we cannot obtain any other way. What wonderful attributes to aspire to.  Unfortunately, aspiration alone does not bring about peace of mind.  We have to exercise our intent through consistency, determination, confidence and patience.  

Deciding to meditate or setting the goal to meditate daily is the very first step to creating a successful practice.  Bringing that decision to fruition involves all of the steps we normally follow in order to accomplish any endeavour we undertake.   

How long will you meditate? 5 minutes 3 times a day,  15 minutes, 1/2 hour an hour?  How long do you want to meditate, how much time can you dedicate to meditation?  How much time will offer you the benefits you are looking to cultivate?  Once you determine how long you want to meditate make that an agreement you keep with yourself.

Decide when the best time would be for you to meditate.  Does your lifestyle offer you the opportunity to meditate at the same time in the same place every day?  Some people prefer to begin their day with a quiet meditation practice to gather their energy before facing the chaos.  Others find that calming the mind before bed works wonders for a deep restful sleep.  Would taking time during the middle of the day recharge and refresh you, make your more alert for your work and business?  

 Answering the when question occasionally involves answering the where question.  Where can you meditate during your day? There are many opportunities during the day,  many places that offer the quiet time needed to meditate in your room at home, your office, the bathroom at work, while waiting for a Doctors appointment, as a passenger in a car, taxi, on a bus,  

bench-for-meditation       or in the park outside your office at lunch.

Granted the Doctors office is not the optimal place to meditate, however it can offer you a quiet time to slow down during a day that is running on fast forward.  Rarely do patients talk to each other while waiting to discuss their personal health concerns with the Doctor. You don’t need to sit in the lotus position.  Quietly, sit in the waiting room chair,  close your eyes and begin your practice.  I usually keep my sunglasses on.  Nobody even knows my eyes are closed.  Set an alarm on your phone and place it in your pocket, it will silently alert you when the appropriate time has elapsed, without alerting anyone else.

While creating your meditation practice you may wish to consider if you prefer to meditate on your own, with a group or a combination of the two choices.  Each option has it advantages.   Give yourself the opportunity to attend a group meditation at one of your local meditation centres.  See how meditating with others may expand and enrich your own private practice. 

Be diligent and consistent in your effort.  Return each day to your practice.  Sit for the agreed time.  Maintain your focus on your chosen object, gently bring your mind back when it wanders off to finish the shopping list, or think about that email you need to send to a colleague. 

Follow the teachings you have been taught,  give yourself time to develop and grow within your practice.  Understand there will be days you will be frustrated, your mind won’t cooperate.  It will open a multitude of doors, releasing all sorts of thoughts and images to crowd out any attempt at calm.  Be patient.  There will also be days when your concentration will be like a sharp knife you steadily hold on the object of your focus.  Recognize and be aware of these small victories they will build your determination to continue, your confidence in yourself. 

Be determined not to give in to procrastination, laziness, or other attempts to avoid your practice.  Our mind can play many tricks on us in an effort to lure us away from meditation.  Meditation is a way for us to exert control over our mind, over our emotions.  It is a way to rein in the chaotic or looping thoughts.  Our Ego doesn’t want this,  it wants to be in charge, allowed to do whatever it desires with emotional abandon all the while wrecking havoc on our lives.  Each time you overcome an obstacle to your practice you strengthen your confidence.  Honour yourself –  Keep your promise to yourself meditate everyday.

Be confident in your ability to continue, have faith in yourself.  Practice daily.  Step by step your initial attempts will become an anticipated and appreciated daily habit. You will overcome any barrier you may place in your path.

Be patient. The benefits won’t be noticeable right away.  It will take time to build your practice and to see the positive results. Your friends and family may recognize the benefits before you do.  Keep at it.  Little by little you will become calm and experience more of the beauty in life.

Only you can experience your practice, reap its benefits, overcome the challenges.  Only you can appreciate your effort and only you can know when is the best time for you to meditate.  The first step is to decide to do it and then follow through. 

Bring harmony into your life, begin your practice. 

Cushion or Chair.jpg      Your meditation chair or cushion awaits you. 

 

Cheryle, October 2016

LEARN TO MEDITATE FOR FREE

Orientation Day is coming and as usual I become more excited with each day counting.  I volunteer as an Assistant Meditation Instructor for Willpower Institute North America, a non-profit organization that specializes in teaching Samatha Meditation.  Samatha meditation is the technique used by the Forest Monks of Thailand to achieve tranquility and gain wisdom.

Each year, the six month Free Meditation Instructors Course begins with Orientation Day when the Venerable Meditation Master from Thailand, PhraDhammongolayarn Viriyang Sirantharo , speaks to new students about the 6 month course he developed as a way to achieve his vision of world peace.   True to the heart of a Buddhist Monk, Luangphor does not require anyone to pay to attend the course.

Luangphor speaks at Orientation day 2011.jpg

Luangphor, the loving honourific by which we call PhraDhammongolayarn, is  96 and has been an ordained Monk since he was a young man of 20.  It took him 20 years to translate his meditation experiences into the three text books, which form the basis of the theory portion of the course.  In addition to instruction in theory,  the course includes the  practice of walking and sitting meditation.

Walking Meditation b

Meditation increases one’s mind power which ultimately allows the meditator to exact control over the emotions, to maintain a distance from the everyday drama and chaos.  It nurtures the mind, gives it the space to remember it’s true nature is love and compassion.  Getting beyond the looping thoughts, past the stress of anger, resentment and greed,  brings about a peace of mind that enables the meditator to move through daily life with ease and contentment.   It helps to improve sleep,  decision making, personal and business relationships and brightens cognitive activity.

2016 poster test 4.jpgWillpower Meditation Centres are also located in:  CANADA:   ALBERTA:  Edmonton, BRITISH COLUMBIA –  Vancouver, ONTARIO – Kanata , Richmond Hill & Niagara Falls  UNITED STATES:  TEXAS – Houston & Dallas,  CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles. THAILAND : there are over 100 branches in Thailand.  New centres have recently opened or are planned to open soon in a number of European countries,  in China and in India.

I invite you to join me September 3rd at 7248 -25th St. S.E., Calgary to see for yourself how this simple meditation technique can benefit you.  Click here to   Register for Calgary Meditation Instructors Course 2016

 

Cheryle –  August 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COME DRUM WITH ME

Drums on a Blue background   An unusual event took place in the Ogden House auditorium on May 5th, 2016.  For those members sitting in the lounge at the time, they heard and felt a rumbling never before experienced at the club.  What could it be?

a drum circle begins

A drum circle, of course.

As we arrived, each of us looked around the auditorium, skeptically, and wondered what had we gotten ourselves into?  The chairs were arranged in a large circle with a drum sitting in front of each spot.  Jamie Gore,  a Drum Circle Facilitator with Circles of Rhythms, greeted us and invited us to select a seat and a drum.  There were colourful Cuban Tubanos, shapely Djembes, and graceful Frame drums, all waiting to release their voices with just a touch from a drummer.

Each drum style, is unique in the way it looks, the sound it makes and in the way it is played.

A cuban drummer a   The Tubano, a tall floor standing drum, is played by used two beaters to hit the drum skin and by striking the hard straight side of the body with the beater handles.

A couple of djembe drummers   The Djembe, a goblet shaped drum from West Africa, is held between the legs, and is tilted slightly forward to allow the voice of the drum to escape through the bottom of its hollow body.  The drummer beats the drum skin with their open hands or the drum rim with their fingers.

a community drum with two frame drums  The community drum and the frame drums are used to keep the beat and set the pace for all the other drums.  Historically,  the frame drum is believed to have been styled after the original drum, which was developed from the grain sieves used by ancient agricultural communities.

a bunch of percussion

As the short hour flew by, everyone had an opportunity to try out each style of drum, and to play one of the percussion instruments which had been laid out on the floor in the centre of the circle.

a painted drum  We drummed for ourselves, we drummed for each other, and we drummed for those fleeing the fires in the north.  We energized our bodies, our minds, we played with our hearts and our spirits.  The room vibrated and bounced to the sounds we made.  Our faces broke out in smiles, our feet tapped in rhythm while our arms beat in time to each other.

a djembe quartet

 

A flute soars    Karin Foster, a musician and a Circle of Rhythms drum circle volunteer generously treated us to two haunting melodies played on her American Indian Flute.

A mother listens to her daughter play a  We sat quietly and meditated as her energy and love filled the room.

I had a drumming good time and look forward to the next drum circle, but from the looks on the faces of the members sitting in the lounge as we left, the next circle will need more chairs and more drums.

a gourd sound

Cheryle – May 2016

Originally published in the  Ogden House 50+ Seniors Activity Club – June Newsletter

 

 

THE MEDITATION CUSHION

pillow-for-meditations

Meditation:  Where do we do it?

Meditation isn’t mysterious, isn’t difficult, doesn’t require special equipment nor does it require a special place or a specific spot.  You can meditate anywhere, if your intent is right.

Sitting meditation can be conducted on a comfy cushion, a hard bench, amoung the grasses on the ground, while a passenger in a car, on a train, a plane, or while sitting quietly in the Doctor’s office waiting for an appointment.  Anywhere you can find five minutes to sit without talking or visiting with someone is a place you can meditate, as long as your intent is to meditate and not to show off how well you meditate.

Walking meditation, conducted by walking up and down a designated lane or path, in your house, garden or forest, focusing on one of the five body points and silently repeating a word of prayer or mantra with your eyes hooded and downcast, is part of the Samatha tradition, which was discussed in the second post of the “Meditation Cushion”.

You can designate a walking path in your living room, a garden or somewhere in the woods, a place where you can walk in quiet, peacefully concentrating on the point of focus and the word of prayer or mantra.  You can walk with your shoes on, in your socks or your bare feet, depending on what is appropriate.

Walking meditation conducted while walking along the street, in a park or on a nature pathway, is part of mindfulness training and differs from Samatha meditation.

During mindfulness walking meditation, your eyes are fully open, you are aware of your surroundings.  Your focus is the experience of the moment.  What can you see, smell, or hear?  Can you smell the trees, the flowers; can you hears, birds, dogs, squirrels, bells.  Pay attention to one of these sensations.  When you find your mind has wandered off, thinking unhappy thoughts, of work or about the shopping list, remind yourself to be in the moment – recapture the sensation you were focused on and enjoy the walk.

Take advantage of your schedule, meditate whenever you have the opportunity, conduct meditation wherever you are.  Try mindfully washing the dishes, folding the laundry, gardening or washing the car.  Be there, in the moment.  Make an appointment with yourself to meditate in a more formal fashion, sit for five minutes when you wake up, another five minutes at lunch time and another five minutes before dinner.  Nothing on TV?  Do a half hour of walking meditation and half hour of sitting meditation instead of letting yourself become bored.

Whether you choose to practice Samatha or mindfulness walking, meditation provides your body with gentle exercise.  It allows the mind and consciousness a moment to rest and connect with a bit of peace and calm.

Meditation is easy, its’ conduction depends on you.  You reaps its’ rewards and its’ benefits, wherever you meditate.

By Cheryle L. Baker                                      March 31, 2015

Day 4 – 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge

Day 4 – 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge

This is a photo of dual meditation seats.  Meditation with a friend can be more productive than meditating on your own.

meditation seats

The tractor seats were welded onto hand cut springs which were then anchored onto rocks for stability. The meditation seats are springy and are so comfortable. 10,000 farmers can’t be wrong.   In the winter, I sprinkle sunflower seeds on the seats, the squirrels and birds love them.

For day 4 of the 5 Day Black and White Photo challenge I challenge Sarah of Chilly Bella at https://chillybella.wordpress.com/  The criteria is to post a black and white photo for 5 days and then to challenge another blogger to do the same.

There is no pressure if you cannot accept this challenge.  After all it is for fun.

Cheryle March 2105

The Meditation Cushion

Meditation:  What are we doing

What is It we are doing, while we sit with our eyes closed, our rhythmic breathing coming and going quietly?

Our mind is running amuck, all of the thoughts are coming forward, begging for attention.  Look at me, I am significant, I can make you look smart, beautiful.  I am lonely, you are failing, not worthy, hide beneath the dark blanket of shame and all will be well.  Your shopping list for today includes………. Don’t forget to drop the kids off.  What a jerk, who does he think he is, treating me like a minion, I am not worthy.  I just want to disappear, let’s go shopping…. Never ending conversations with yourself, running your mind ragged with their interference.  Too much to focus on not enough mind.

sitting meditation

Our backs straight, shoulders relaxed, hands gently resting on our laps, right over left.  We are ignore the aches, pains and itches our bodies are giving us in retaliation to the unfamiliar stillness.  It wants to run, jump and play.  Move as it pleases.  We are keeping these impulses in check, they are there, we do not pay them any attention.  We remain still, they will disappear we will become oblivious to the wants of the body.

Take a slow deep breath, hold it for just a moment, let it go slowly, pay attention to the quiet it brings, breathe in, – slowly, hold for just a moment, breath out slowly.  Drop your shoulders, they are starting to tense, hold you back straight, breathe in —-hold —- out.   Relax, maintain the position.    Where did I leave my keys, did I finish that memo?  Your mind breaks in on the silence, driving your concentration away.

Your thoughts create your reality, but what of your emotions.  They bring you joy, pain, and fear.  Sadness overwhelms your happiness, Joy launches you to the sky and beyond.  Up and down, High and low, how the drama of your life comes and goes.

To retain your equilibrium repeat a single word over and over until it disappears and your emotions are filtered through it.   Buddho, Jesus, Allah, a word of prayer, or any word you wish.  A word which does not carry an emotion.  Table would work well, unless you stubbed your toe earlier in the day, then, the word table would be fraught with pain and anger.  Emotional words will only make it impossible for your mind to calm and relax. Unable to slip into the stillness that is a natural part of your makeup.

Your mind, the naughty two year old has gotten loose trying to run your thoughts again.  Like a toddler your mind needs a focus to keep it occupied, to overcome its’ wanton desire to be in charge, looking, touching everything and anything all the time forever.

As any good parent would, gently take your mind, focus all of its’ energy on one thing. The spot on your forehead between your eyebrows, the tip of your nose, your throat, your heart or your navel.  Select one, touch it with your finger if you need to feel the sensation of where this is.  Keep your attention focused on this point.  It is called the focal point. This is where the work begins.

Any irrepressible child will resist training, any discipline, wanting only to do as it wishes, when it wishes and how it wishes. When you catch your mind wandering back to the thoughts looping through each other, refocus its’ attention, gently, back onto this point, in the middle of your forehead, between your eyebrows.   Every time it wanders, bring your mind back, lovingly, gently, to this point without recrimination that you are failing.  You are not, you are learning, slowly, improving your willpower over the itinerant wanderings of the wild child, your mind.

You are learning to be in charge of your thoughts, increase the strength of your willpower.

By Cheryle L. Baker                              February 3  2015

1st Assignment Blogging U201 – Set Three Goals

The first assignment for blogging U 201 is to set 3 goals for my blog.   This assignment has me re-evaluating why I started to blog and what I  expect.

In the first assignment for Blogging U 101, I wrote I wanted accountability, a supportive environment and to develop a discipline to the “act of writing”.  To further explore and develop my meditation practice and to connect with people, who like me, wish to feel comfortable with themselves in order to live a happier life.

I realized re-reading my post, three goals were already created and spoken.  I just have to pull them out, set down their criteria and determine the measurement of success for each.

Discipline to Writing:  Many writers advise newbies to write every day.  Practice, practice and more practice.  Rewrite and Edit.   This would translate into:   regular posts, my readers anticipate and enjoy;  an accountable, consistent writing schedule.

I have registered to Blogging U 201 – Branding and Growth, Blogging 201 – Writing Poetry and the Photo Bloggers Challenge.  I also have a Feature “The Meditation Cushion” to which I want create a regular posting schedule.  The Blogging U assignments require daily posts.  Photo bloggers challenge is on a monthly posting schedule and The Meditation Cushion is on a post when I feel like it schedule.   I am not sure I can keep up the pace of daily posts beyond Blogging U and feel that a once a month post for each activity will keep me busy and happy.

I will re-evaluate this timeline three months after Blogging U has been completed.  If I determine I want to post more or less often at that time I will set a new schedule.

Further Explore and Develop my Meditation Practice.  Explore my abilities, increase my knowledge and experience, strengthen my instructors’ tool kit, and improve my voice as a virtual instructor.

To achieve this I would maintain a daily practice, read, experience and write about a variety of meditation techniques and philosophies. Post a monthly feature “The Meditation Cushion”

To Connect with People   The difficulty here is I have no idea how to get people to like me.  I did increase my twitter followers once by retweeting a news story about a woman who lifts weights with her vagina.  That is not the way I want to increase my blog statistics.

I believe being kind and honest with the people who like or follow me and who I follow,  is a good place to start.

I will continue my habit of looking at new blogs, commenting on posts I enjoy, engaging with my Blogging U colleagues and responding to those who stop by and like my posts.   I am now posting to the Facebook page “Lightwalkers Blog” and tweeting on Twitter. I will continue to update and retweet the tweets I find interesting or in case of the weightlifter lady controversial.

I will honour my goals by maintaining the posting schedule set out.

 Increase my Readership   Math is not something I understand or even pretend to be able to do, so suggesting I will increase my readership by 20 0r 30 % by the end of the month or year doesn’t make any concrete sense to me.

Currently, I have 71 followers gathered from Blogging U 101 alone.  I am embarking on 3 new endeavors’.  One which may have many of the same people I already follow and two in which I may encounter many new people.  My calculation works like this:  71 / 2 / 2 = approx. 17.

My goal is to increase my followers by 17 people over the next 30 days.

There, my goals are set down clearly and concisely, a new practice for me.  Over the next 4 months, I will see how I well I achieve them.