It seems to me that lately a lot of people are aware of the benefits of meditation, and attempting to incorporate the practice into their busy lives.
I respect people who can sit still and meditate, whether emptying their minds, letting their thoughts go by or chanting. I tried various methods, but meditation still eluded me until I started using the word “meditation” more loosely. Then I realized that I do meditate quite often, I just didn’t know!
One spiritual habit that I have built over many years is that I read the Bible and pray everyday (almost). I try to give 100% focus to my time with God every morning. I was approaching meditation with the similar kind of dedication, and I think that’s what kept me personally from successfully practicing meditation.
In the Bible, when Issac met Rachel for the first time, he was in the field meditating. (Genesis 24:63) He “went out to the field to meditate” is the most common translation but there are translations that say he was “walking and meditating” or he was simply “walking”. So, clearly he wasn’t sitting still in his meditation room.
When I go out to my garden to pull weeds, I am meditating. My mind is focused on the task in front of me, but weeding is not rocket science. My brain is completely relaxed and thoughts keeps freely coming and going. I don’t recall ever worrying about my next doctor’s appointment, bills to pay or next work deadline while weeding.
When I go hiking, I am meditating. My mind is engaged in each step I take, otherwise, I will trip over tree roots or fall off a cliff. Sometimes (especially on difficult hikes) I start to wonder why in the world I decided to go on this hike. No one is forcing me to do this! I just need to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, that’s the only way to reach my destination. Sometimes I meditate on bacon and chocolate that I get to enjoy at the end of the hike.
When I do yoga, I am meditating. I took a one day yoga workshop which was aimed to teach beyond what you can learn in regular yoga classes. For the first hour or so, the instructor taught us about the importance of breathing in yoga practice. I learned the importance of connecting to one’s breath and letting the breath guide us in yoga practice. When my mind is solely focused on breathing while trying to hold a very challenging pose, this is probably the closest I find myself to emptying my mind.
When I do Zentangle, I am meditating. I’m focusing on each stroke I draw. I don’t need to know ten strokes ahead of me. I don’t need to worry about what I should be doing next. I move from one pen stroke to the next. I don’t have to rely on my artistic ability because I trust in the Zentangle Method®. I know that I may not finish this piece now but I will finish it sometime, and I’m confident that it is going to be beautiful.
Gardening, hiking, yoga and Zentangle, I consider them my happy places. So, it is true that meditation is good for my soul. What is your happy place?