The Most Important Thing You Learn To Do In 2013
If someone offered you a vacation, no strings attached,
would you take it? Sure, why not? If you had the key to peace, contentment, and
better health would you use it? Of course you would. Is meditation already practice
part of your daily routine? Are you new to the idea of meditation? Or are you
like me, an on-again, off-again meditator?
Despite my good intentions, taking time to meditate has been
a hit-or-miss, now-and-then, hot-and-cold sort of thing. Though 20 years have
passed since my first meditation instruction, a regular sitting practice has
continued to elude me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the potential benefits.
the parasympathetic nervous system, meditation (like other yoga practices) reduces stress,
relieves pain, and helps ease a myriad of medical conditions. It can help smooth
emotional bumps and improve
immunity to respiratory infections. And, according to the New York Times, meditation
has become so hip that it’s inspiring fashion trends.
Fashion aside, the benefits of meditating have been widely
reported, but the one that finally inspired me to shift good intentions into
action was reading that meditation’s
effects on brain structure may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. After
watching my dad’s memory and personality slowly crumble, beginning when he was
in his late 60s, I’ve been proactive about preempting that devastating
What about you? If none of the benefits listed above have
inspired you to establish a regular meditation practice, consider this: A yogi
doesn’t live by asana alone. That’s not to say that asana and meditation are
exclusive and separate. Many
experience deep awareness or one-pointedness during asana practice. But a
separate meditation practice is an opportunity to go beyond the boundaries of
ego and discover the essence of truth.
Meditating is a “no-brainer” in terms of decision-making—it offers high reward for little or no risk:
1. It doesn’t cost anything. You’ll likely find free or donation-based classes, and instructive materials are widely available…like this inexpensive e-book or this guided meditation app.
2. No special gear is needed, not even a sticky mat.
3. You can start this very minute, sitting at your desk. Set this nifty online meditation timer, or follow this guided 9-minute practice.
Are you already thinking up excuses? After 20 years, I’m
pretty familiar with most of them: “I don’t have time.” (Not even five
minutes?) “I’m not doing it right.” (That’s why it’s called “practice.”) “I’ve
tried it, and it doesn’t do anything for me.” (Like asana, meditation practice
must be consistent and sustained before benefits manifest.)
So stop what you’re doing, and start doing…nothing. Just
What inspires (or would inspire) you to meditate regularly?
This is Part One of a three-part series. Part Two offers
explanations of different types of meditation and tips on how to establish a
regular practice. Part Three will offer suggestions for staying inspired.