Just before the holidays, a friend from back home posted a question on social media wanting information on where one could buy a meditation cushion. She was looking to purchase for an eight year old girl who was part of “adopt a family” during the Christmas season. I jumped on the opportunity to help her out. For me, it is exciting to see that someone so young was invested in the idea of meditation.
There are many preconceived notions about what meditation is, what the results are supposed to be and “Am I doing this right?”
Once in a while I listen to the podcast 10% Happier with Dan Harris. With each guest, he starts the conversation with the same question- How did you get into meditation? When I think about the answer, my gut instinct is to say about ten years ago during yoga teacher training. But in reality, the more I contemplate that question, the first seeds of meditation were planted around third grade. My teacher then, would lead our class through a visualization practice that I still remember to this day. It started with closing our eyes and settling into our chair. From there she had us imagine a bucket of paint being poured from the crown of the head and filling the whole body. Once the whole body was covered in paint, then we would imagine all things that bring us joy. She encouraged us to use all of our senses.
When I first began the practice of meditation as an adult, I thought it was about clearing the mind, finding calmness and being “zen.” And I know that I am not alone in this thinking. Over the last few years I have taken a deeper dive into what meditation is for me, how I relate to the cushion and what comes up as I sit.
My main practice is shamatha meditation. You can learn more about that practice by clicking in this link. What I appreciate about this particular practice is the opportunity to see the mind as it is. As a teacher once said, “It offers us the opportunity to become friends with ourselves.” When we become friends with ourselves, then we are more present for those around us. Being present for those around us is one of the greatest gifts we can offer anyone.
Some of the preconceived notions I once had about meditation are now byproducts of a regular practice. There are glimpses in my day when my mind feels clear, calm or zen. For me, having a daily-ish practice is important. I say dayily-ish because it allows me to be softer or more lenient on myself if I can’t get the practice in on a particular day; circling back to the idea of making friends with myself.
I have many more thoughts on this subject that I will share at a later time. But for now, if you are looking for more resources, below are a few recommendations.
Wherever You Go, There You Are- Jon Kabat-Zinn
10% Happier- Dan Harris
Start Here Now- Susan Piver
The Road Home- Ethan Nichtern
Turning the Mind Into an Ally- Sakyong Mipham
You Are Here- Thich Nhat Hahn