About Meditation | True Story
To meditate, or not to meditate, that is the question?
For some of us the answer is clear, while for others the word, as well as the concept of meditation, is shrouded in doubt. Most of this doubt stems from things people say about meditation. Specifically, what meditation is and what it is not. For example, even today, many people belief that meditation is a new age fad, or that it interferes with your religious.
These were the very questions I was asked the other day—by my mother-in-law who had suffered a heart attack and also an aortic dissection.
A woman who was born and raised in a small town in Louisiana and, after marriage, lived in another one in Mississippi—all her life. Because of this, she had very little exposure to the world outside her known milieu.
A woman who is a devoted Christian and reads the bible daily. Her faith gave her strength to deal with not only the loss of her husband, but also her two oldest children—my late husband and her oldest daughter, as well as a grandson (my son) and granddaughter.
Now, in her Golden Years, she is asked to change not only her perception of what meditation is, but also to practice it. She is asked to do something that goes against her religious beliefs.
I could clearly see the inner conflict “about meditation” she was going through.
But, how do you explain away the misconceptions to a women who is in her early 90’s and is told, “She will learn to meditate?” And, “Why can’t she just take medication to keep her blood pressure low?”
Explanation About Meditation
So, I set out to explain to her that there are many ways to meditate and that not all meditation practices are the same. She may has heard about meditation being a part of Buddhist and Hindu religious practices, but what she will learn can be practiced by anyone.
Next, I explained to her that the type of meditation she will learn typically involves quiet, focused attention, during which you close your eyes while sitting comfortably. You then direct your awareness to your breathing, an object, or a word or phrase.
And, as I had anticipated, she wanted to know why this was different from her reading the bible. I did my best to explain to her that prayer is a form meditation. But meditation is a little different. It is more about a state of contemplation, concentration, and reflection. Further, research results suggest that meditation may improve a host of factors linked to heart disease. Meditation helps with stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality, and high blood pressure.
This wasn’t a small feat.
But the real shock came when she said, “You need to share what you know with others that they may benefit from what you have learned due to your own personal challenges. “
Wow! What a change.
You see, for years and years, I was the “black sheep,” in the family due to my holistic practices.
However, I could tell that not only did I put her mind at ease, there also was a shift in attitude.
Yes, she not only wanted to know about meditation, but also the other mind-body practices. Specifically, the ones I had incorporated into my personal and professional life over the past few decades.
When she asked what form of meditation I practiced,I told her that I practice several, but the loving-kindness and compassion meditations are my favorite ones.
What is Loving-kindness Meditation?
“The path begins with cultivating appreciation of our oneness with others through generosity, nonharming, right speech, and right action. Then, on the foundation of these qualities, we purify our minds through the concentration practices of meditation. As we do, we come to experience wisdom through recognizing the truth, and become deeply aware of the suffering caused by separation and of the happiness of knowing our connection with all beings (p. 6).”
What is Compassion Meditation?
“One is to see compassion as the outcome of a path that can be cultivated and developed. You do not in reality cultivate compassion, but you can cultivate, through investigation, the qualities that incline your heart toward compassion. You can learn to attend to the moments when you close and contract in the face of suffering, anger, fear, or alienation. In those moments you are asked to question what difference empathy, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance would make. You cultivate your commitment to turn toward your responses of aversion, anger, or intolerance. With mindfulness and investigation, you find in your heart the generosity and understanding that allow you to open rather than close. (pp. 141–142).”
Infographic by FourPillarsofHealth.club
Featured Image Annie Spratt
Book: Feldman,Christina Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World Aug 1, 2016
Last Updated: January 3, 2018