Saturday, February 8, 2014

Meditation 101

You know the expression, "I'm losing my mind?" Do you ever wonder where the mind goes when it gets lost? Or when the mind wanders, does it stay close to home or strike out to parts unknown?
I've never paid much attention to where my mind goes, except for the fact that it's often absent. I continue to function - eat my morning Wheat Chex, walk to the nearest PATH station, change the sheets on the bed - but my mind, my thoughts, may be on a beach in Hawaii 6 months from now, or in the doctor's office last week. Rarely, do my thoughts stay put.

I've been monitoring my thoughts more lately as part of a six-week beginner's meditation class at New York Insight Meditation Center.

Wanting to lead a more mindful, present-moment life is not a new goal for me. I have attempted sitting meditation several times, tried eating meditation (chewing a raisin as slowly as humanly possible), and walking meditation as I follow a labyrinth's path. But in each instance, my body is doing its job - sitting, chewing, walking - but my thoughts have left the building.

I was inspired to try again when I attended the exhibit of Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphic meditations at the Deepak Chopra's HomeBase in December. In my blog about the event, I posted two pictures which are particularly meaningful to me.

But how? How to live the only moment I truly have to live, more fully.

I discovered New York Insight through a connection with a book I'm reading, The Force of Kindness by Sharon Salzberg.  Googling the website, I read the philosophy, further benefits of meditation beyond  those I knew, and learned of opportunities to participate.

"Insight meditation is a way to develop wisdom and compassion.  The core of the practice is the cultivation of mindfulness." 

The next series of classes started within two days. I signed up.

Each Monday a group of about 20 other beginners and I gather in an open-spaced room on 27th St. from 10:00-12:00.

 In a circle of chairs we meditate, listen to our instructor, and share our experiences.

After four weeks of weekly instruction and daily practice, I am encouraged. I am learning to guide my wandering thoughts back to my breath and body, experiencing what it's like to be present in a moment. I feel more moments of calm, mindfulness and patience in my daily life, whether that's standing in line at the post office or brushing my teeth.

My mind is still doing its own thing 90% of the time, but as Elaine, our meditation instructor says, "That's just what minds do." I continue to gently invite mine back, hopeful that She will hang around more often. Or maybe I'll join Her at that beach in Hawaii.

I'm wondering. . . what are some practices that keep you centered?  


  1. Drawing. When it's going well, there is nothing else in the world.

  2. I imagine that hours go by before you know it. :-)


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