By Lori Lang
I have been meditating off and on for more than 20 years with my first experience being in 1999 during a personal development course.
The guided meditation was introduced as a means of releasing stress and involved us sitting with closed eyes as the guide invited us to visualize a place in nature where we were alone and felt safe. There was no unnatural sound, distraction, pressure, illness nor anything to be done. We each chose a location, mine was a rustic cabin with a porch in the mountains, surrounded by tall trees, with a babbling stream nearby. Sunlight shimmered through the trees, a breeze gently rustled the leaves, the scent of damp earth and wildflowers wafted through the air and in the distance birds sang and insects buzzed. It was my sanctuary, where I have returned many times since.
Since that day I have meditated off and on, making it a part of my life during my most challenging times.
At one point I attended a church that just like meditation, seemed New Age. Its focus was on our individual spirits, our connection to all other spirits of the living, dead and yet unborn and on the Universal energy that connects all of us. They practiced guided meditation as well as music with repetitive phrases similar to mantras. I still sing one of them as a part of my morning routine.
I soon learned of a few popular authors and teachers such as Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer who I studied and learned from. Louise Hay’s focus on ‘Healing Your Life’, which is the name of one of her early books, included the use of affirmations and reflection to work through past hurts and beliefs on the journey to loving myself.
Wayne Dyer’s much broader focus was on recognizing that we are all spirit, that the Universe, God, supports us in thriving in this life, knowing we can be, do, and have all we want and need while giving and serving to make others’ lives and the world a positive and kinder place to live.
Over the years, as my life flowed and became busier and more stressful, I forgot about taking care of myself. It was only recently, as I faced personal challenges, that I began making time for myself again. First in small ways, signing up for a fitness class, seeing a therapist, getting a physical exam and making small changes to prioritize myself and to stop participating in the chaos that I had unconsciously created.
At this time, through Facebook, I became aware of Deepak Chopra, the Chopra Centre and their free 21-Day meditation experiences. I’ve participated in several as part of my morning routine, listening to the daily message and spending ten minutes in quiet meditation based on Ancient Eastern Wisdom traditions dating as far back at 5000 BC. They involve sitting peacefully, eyes closed, focusing on the natural breath, while repeating a Sanskrit mantra. The purpose of these meditations is to disconnect from the chaos of life created mostly by our thoughts and egos, to connect with our consciousness, our true self, which is connected to everyone and every living thing.
I became aware of Eckhart Tolle while watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and attempted to read his book, ‘The Power of Now’, which I couldn’t understand. Since then I’ve felt drawn to understand consciousness and now and during the pandemic, along with many others, Eckhart Tolle offered a free program, for which I enrolled.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned about my ego’s purpose and function and how it prevents me from living a conscious life by using past experience and a permanent sense of lack, which has lead me to having an over active mind and distracting and disempowering thoughts. The meditations encourage becoming an observer of our thoughts, rather than making them a part of our identity. For example, as I am looking for work, applying for several jobs a week and receiving no response, my thoughts run wild. They have gone from curiosity, to frustration, self-doubt and worry.
If I let those thoughts, that I am unemployable become my identify. I will hit a wall, lose hope, and may accept failure. I now recognize my thoughts and through meditation, connect silently with God, often praying beforehand to ask what my purpose is and for awareness to see opportunities as they arise. As I learn and understand these lessons, I feel my connection, I recognize being conscious more often and am releasing more stress, fear and uncertainty as I live my life my fully.
During the pandemic, I also came across a free daily Mindfulness practice that ran for more than 90 days and is still available on YouTube. It was presented by Wisdom 2.0 and facilitated by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is recognized as the founder of Mindfulness, a practice in the West that focuses on being awake, aware and conscious of living in the present moment.
Mindfulness uses the senses to be in the present moment without judgment and can be practiced wherever and whenever I like; at home, on the bus, walking in nature, standing, sitting, or doing dishes. I find it grounding and peaceful, a perfect moment followed by another and another.
Have you ever noticed that when you become interested in something, perhaps click a link on a networking app or search on a web browser, that links and ads begin showing up in your feeds? Me too! That’s how I came across a free 8-day Tapping experience related to healing the belief that I am not enough.
Tapping is a form of guided meditation that involves sitting quietly and tapping on specific acupuncture points while silently or verbally repeating or responding to suggestions of the guide. It took the full eight days for me to recognize the difference it was making in my life, bringing my beliefs to the surface, helping me recognize their source and invalidity, and replacing them with new healing beliefs.
As I enjoy my daily practices and routines and continue learning, I find my consciousness increasing, which results in me being more aware and recognizing when I drift into stress, fear, regret and other emotions that don’t serve me. In those moments I choose which meditation practice will serve me best and make the time then and there to be in the moment, connect with God and my spirit and acknowledge that, in that moment, all is well in my life.
There is a form of meditation for anyone who experiences stress in their lives, who has old beliefs that no longer serve them, who wants to create change in their lives. One size does not fit all, and so a bit of research and a lot of experimentation may be needed. I promise it will be worth the effort.