More on Meditation

Meditation, with or without crystals (I prefer with) can be one of the most valuable spiritual practices available. On a basic level, it can help to relax our bodies. It also relaxes the mind, freeing it from the constant chatter that otherwise clutters it. Meditation also has the potential to connect us with a vast and intelligent energy beyond our individual beings, which is called universal spirit, All That Is, God Force, source energy.

We've had two articles on meditation in past newsletters:

Meditation 101: First You Breathe This article focuses on the importance of correct breathing.

Meditation Made Easier This article provides some specific methods and practices to make meditation easier.

In this month's article, I address some general concerns people have about meditation.

Can I Do It?

Sometimes the idea of meditation is intimidating. It's easy to get the impression that one must practice for hours and hours. Other sources suggest that unless one is practicing yoga, strict vegetarianism, and/or other disciplines, failure is inevitable.

You Can Do It

In meditation, you aren't trying to create an artificial state of calm and relaxation, but to find your way back to a natural state of well-being and balance. Just as the salmon knows how to find its way to its spawning grounds, even people who have adapted themselves to a frantic lifestyle and who think in exclamation points, can bring themselves back into harmony.

Two keys unlock the door: Believing in the possibility and patience while it manifests.

This Is Weird

Often, when meditation is a new experience, it feels strange and uncomfortable. We're not used to sitting or lying down and "doing nothing."

Sitting is usually associated with some mental engagement: reading, watching television, and having a conversation. Lying down is commonly connected to sleeping-which many people find themselves doing instead of meditating.

People have similar challenges when they first take up exercise. Used to walking to get somewhere, they may find walking on a treadmill strange. If they are accustomed to bicycling as a form of transportation, they may have similar difficulties with a stationary bike.

Often people are also thinking, "I'm wasting time." Their meditation is disturbed by thoughts of all the things they should be doing.

Sometimes Weird is Good

New things usually feel weird. A new job has different routines and people associated with it. A new house is unfamiliar; so is a new relationship.

New practices and places are scary because they shake us out of old habits. They are valuable because they keep us from getting mentally and psychically rusty. They allow for growth. They create for us a larger world in which to play.

With practice, we become accustomed to meditation. It becomes a good habit, the kind that continues to allow us to grow and explore.

Any practice that relaxes us and helps us approach from a calmer perspective is hardly a waste of time. As we become accustomed to meditation and appreciative of its benefits, we may come to view it as one of the most valuable ways in which to spend time.

I Can't Stop Thinking

It's interesting how many things we find to think about when we're trying to free our minds of thought. Worrying thoughts are particularly popular. You're lying or sitting there, and the worries that always go through your mind are circulating again, only now, it's even worse, because you have no activity with which to distract yourself.

Don't Try to Stop Thinking

To try to suppress unwanted thoughts is about as effective as trying to hold down a spring with thin tape. They will always bounce back into consciousness.

It's especially important not to judge yourself because you can't stop thinking. Instead, allow your thoughts to be without giving them attention or energy.

Then, without resisting them, turn your attention to something else. Meditation music is popular both as a source of relaxation and as a distraction from thought. Many meditators choose to listen to other kinds of sounds, such as ticking clocks.

It Feels Wrong

People who were raised in very traditional and/or conservative religious practices often have a difficult time freeing themselves of the beliefs associated with such traditions. Often they may think they have, but the adoption of any practice far from their roots may activate resistance. This resistance isn't limited to meditation. Working with crystals, discovering psychic gifts, or other areas of metaphysics, can trigger it.

You Can Make it Feel Right

It's my experience in counseling that people who find themselves blocked by conservative religious heritages often have trouble letting them go because they got certain benefits and comforts from them. My advice is often to remember your religious history from a positive perspective.

For example, you may have enjoyed praying, you might have taken comfort from lighting candles. Maybe singing was a positive part of your religious past.

You can adapt these practices into your method of meditation. Prayer can be expressed as the silent recitation or statements of gratitude. Lighting candles and gazing at them can be part of meditation. There may be certain hymns or selections of sacred music you may want to sing as a prelude to or as part of meditation. Many religious traditions include singing or chanting to achieve a meditative state.

The Best: A Final Note

We live in a competitive world, one in which it is usually easy to measure one's achievements against those of someone else. Fortunately, there are no meditation Olympics. Your intention is to relax, to become comfortable with the spirit that occupies your body, to refresh and restore yourself.

Don't become alarmed if others tell you they saw flashing lights, rainbows, heard a disembodied voice of wisdom. Those are their experiences. They aren't better than yours.

Enjoy your own unique moments of silence and communion with yourself, and they will surely increase and deepen.

Meditation Helpers

Crystals

In general, people find clear quartz to be the most helpful crystal for meditation. Containing the energies of all colors, it helps us to focus on our spiritual nature. It's also the most versatile in form.

You can hold a quartz point, rotate it over chakra centers, or place small points next to another crystal on a chakra area to enhance that stone's energy (for example, on the heart center, place a clear quartz point next to rose quartz to amplify heart energy). You can also place a small cluster on the third eye (above and between the physical eyes) or on the crown chakra (center of head). These are only initial suggestions.

Amethyst is the most useful crystal for tranquility. It seems to work best when placed on the third eye.

Carnelian helps us to be in the present. It is generally placed on the pelvic area (second chakra).

Sodalite is another third eye stone. It helps us to balance logic and intuition.

Hematite is generally considered helpful in shielding us from the emotions of others, but it can also help to shield us from our own intrusive thoughts. It is usually placed on the root chakra (base of spine). I like to also place a hematite at the base of each foot.

Essences

White Chestnut (Bach) is essential for those who find repetitive and worrisome thoughts disturbing their peace of mind.

Aspen (Bach), generally recommended for fear of the unknown, is useful for those who fear where their meditation may take them.

Lotus (FES) is a wonderful overall meditative aid.

Purple Monkeyflower (FES) helps those whose traditional religious training may make them fearful of different spiritual practices.

Finally, Bear and Tiger (both Wild Earth Animal Essences) can be helpful. The bear goes into a deep state of hibernation in winter, and the Bear essence guides us into a state of inner peace. Tiger, a solitary animal, symbolizes the solitude of meditation.


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