“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.” – Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Do you ever find that sometimes things don’t “take” the first time around?
I am thinking it will be that way with me and meditating. Like it was with becoming a vegetarian, a practice that unfolded over time.
What the heck is a complete protein?
I wanted to stop eating meat probably around the age of 5, when I learned we were eating our animal friends.
But there was no way, when I was a child that I could have made that happen. Adults may listen to such wants from their children today, but not so much back then. And the idea of being a vegetarian was about as crazy as you could get during that decade.
Fast forward to about the age of 15, when I tried again. There were still very few vegetarian options or books that I was aware of, at least that didn’t appear weird or out and out crazy.
In the suburban area where we lived there was one little health food store, and it was mainly stocked with vitamins, wheat germ, carob baked goods, and carrot juice. I felt lost.
Plus, according to Frances Lappe’s book, Diet for a Small Planet, which was The book to read on the topic, you were supposed to “combine proteins” to get “complete” proteins,” a theory later deemed completely unnecessary. It was all way too much trouble for this 70’s era teenager. So I let it go.
It took another 20 years before I figured out a way to adopt the lifestyle I had long been wanting. I have continued along that path for 30 years, until switching over to veganism and eventually whole foods plant based eating.
I am thinking it may be the same with meditation. I have tried to meditate without my mind wandering and being utterly bored. So far, I have been totally unsuccessful.
New age nightmares
I think I may have some mental blocks about meditating, that also, like my lean into vegetarianism, go back to my teenage years in Marin County, California. Not only did I live in an enlightened, progressive geographical location, but I had a father who was ahead of his time as far as following Eastern philosophies and practices.
He was a bit of a Renaissance Man, my Dad. His career choices included being a reporter as a young adult, a PR man and a college professor in his middle years, and in his later years, a New Age bookstore owner and hippie/guru kind of figure.
I now am ashamed and saddened to admit it, but my sisters and I were mortified at his last career direction. It was the 80s and we were all going through a particularly shallow phase (reflective of the entire decade I think, as I look back now).
We were too busy dressing for success and climbing the career ladder to buy into what we considered New Age mumbo jumbo. Big hair, shoulder pads, getting empowered were our concerns. Not tarot cards, horoscopes, chakras, crystals, and meditation.
Why meditate when I could sleep in?
When I signed up for Bright Line eating and learned that meditation was a suggested practice, I was more than a trifle skeptical. I was even slightly turned off.
But I have heard so many good things about this going quiet within. It is supposed to reduce stress, improve concentration, increase clarity and calmness and contribute to happiness. Who wouldn’t want to give it another shot?
Buddying up with my monkey mind
Like most unenlightened folks, I suffer from a monkey mind that babbles away morning, noon and night about everything from which local store I should go to for the best priced nut milk, to when am I going to get to see my grandchildren again, to I really should clean out the linen closet, and on and on ad nauseum.
Quieting all that claptrap going on upstairs would be wonderful.
I love this simple explanation by Mingyur Rinpoche about how meditation can do just that.
I want to learn, guide and train my mind. I want to be boss of it, as well as make friends with it, like the video promises. If we can’t be friends, maybe we can at least call a truce; we’ve been duking it out for too long.
There’s an app for that
Whenever I ask someone how do I begin to meditate, they point me in the direction of an app called Headspace, which offers guided meditations.
Their website says they can help you learn to meditate with a free Basics pack –“a 10-day beginner’s course that guides you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.”
Sounds good to me. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to, and will report back later to tell you what I think.
C’mon now share
If you have gotten this far with the post, you know how inexperienced I am with meditation. I know to start with a short session and to do it in the same location and around the same time each time I meditate. That’s it. I really need to hear from you regular meditators. Please share your own experience with quieting your own monkey mind in the comments below. I would love to hear how you got started, your favorite meditations, how frequently and for how long you meditate, and how it has changed your life. By sharing, perhaps we can all help each other on our own spiritual paths.