Experiments in Rebellion: Meditation

 
 
 Photo by Chris Lawton
 

The first time I tried to meditate, I was eight years old. My father would chop wood every day in the winter to feed our continuously burning fire. One day, as the darkness crept up on the evening, I remember staring into the fire when no one was around (I am the second of four children and grew up in a loud, chaotic, intense household where solitude was a commodity), and settling into a state of calm.

 

Almost instinctively, I went to my mom’s bathroom and grabbed a jar of bath salts. I stuck a single candle into the jar to hold it upright, placed it in front of the fire, and, upon lighting it, created what I now know was an impromptu altar. I placed my little makeshift elemental homage in front of the fire, sat cross-legged, put my hands in gyan mudra (i.e. thumb to forefinger), and began chanting “OM.”

 

I was just a kid. I had no access to meditators, altars, or mantras. I just did it.

 

My father walked in on me in the living room, with my eyes closed, chanting like a damn guru, and stared at me, speechless. “What in the world are you doing?” he asked. Immediately, I felt shame because I had no intellectual understanding of what I was doing. I just knew that the fire, the quiet, a comfortable seat, and a mantra made me feel good.

 

I strengthened my resolve, looked back at him, and simply said, “meditating,” like it wasn’t a big deal that his 8 year old daughter had built an altar in the living room. “Well, okay then,” he replied, and shrugged and walked out of the room. To this day, meditating in front of fire is my favorite way to tap in.

 

I remember being on the playground in elementary school, and just wanting to sit quietly by myself. Teachers would come up to ask me if something was wrong, trying to uncover the hidden pain that would drive me to be alone, but I just wanted to sit there and observe. They couldn’t believe that a child would enjoy stillness. Each teacher would walk away in disbelief, but was soon followed by another.

 

It wasn’t until I was around 18 that I began meditating seriously, though. I had stopped tapping into that place at all in my early teenage years, and I was out of practice. I had to relearn the physical stuff, but I also had to rediscover that place within myself. Today, I am an energy healer, mentor, speaker, teacher, writer, designer, crystal dealer, and meditation artist, and I’ve learned that an untrained mind is a recipe for disaster.

 

I do not claim to be a meditation master, but I’ve been doing it for a long time. Meditation is the gateway to awareness, to spiritual insight, and to freedom. It is liberation and it is self-realization. It also has a measurable impact on your ability to focus and your sense of well-being. Three minutes of meditation impacts your circulation, eleven minutes impacts your nerves and glandular system, and just over an hour can change your brain. Yes, your brain. Meditation is medicine.

 

For those who wish to purify the mind, know the unknown, and heal from within, meditation is the key.

 

Here is how to run an experiment in meditation:

 

Step 1: Establish a practice. Plan to be consistent & diligent, even before you start. This means devoting yourself wholeheartedly instead of daydreaming on the floor and calling it meditation.

 

Step 2: Get an accountability partner. Ask a likeminded friend to do it with you, so you can hold each other accountable to your commitments.

 

Step 3: Set goals. Strive to overcoming impatience, distraction, or boredom. Choose to meditate for 21 days in a row. Try to meditate for 11 minutes twice daily, or 20 minutes morning and evening. Perhaps a “no alcohol unless I’ve meditated” rule will work for you. Record how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually before and after your meditation sessions so you can track your progress.

 

Step 4: Create an altar or sacred space. Put framed photos of inspiring figures, family members, mentors or powerful quotes on a low bench or shelf. Place crystals and fresh flowers on your altar, and maybe seashells or rocks from places of personal significance. Then place a blanket and meditation pillow in front, facing the altar. Burn sage or palo santo, or light a white candle. Having a place in your home that is devoted to stillness sets an intentional tone, and it’s more inviting when it comes time to meditate.

 

Step 5: Keep your attention on your breath. Neutrally observe the subtle sensations experienced from breathing deeply and slowly. If thoughts arise (and they will) become the neutral observer of your monkey mind. Let them arise, then let them go. Come back to your breath.

 

Step 6: Never complain through your experiment. Do not give energy to thoughts and words like “I can’t do this,” “I suck at stillness,” “This shit is boring,” etc. Just commit to it and do it with grace.

 

In a world where everyone is distracted and tech-obsessed, it is so refreshing and attractive to commune with someone who is truly present, attentive, and mindful. Give energy to your meditation practice so you can be that breath of fresh air.

 

 

Did You Know?

  • Practiced meditators may have an increase in tissue in brain areas that involve impulse control and attention. People who meditate may also be kinder than those who do not. (Smithsonian)

  • Mindfulness reduces age and race bias. (Lueke & Gibson 2014)

 

Wanna Dig Deeper?

  • Explore: Kalisa offers guided meditation downloads, music, crystals, and private sessions on her website

  • Read: The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa

  • Unify.org: A non-profit that organizes synchronized global meditations for world peace and socio-political activism

 

Background, Context & Reference

 

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