Meditation and the High-Strung Individual
Meditation is a valuable tool for everyone; however, it is very important to those of us who are high-strung (Type A) individuals. We are constantly on the go and doing something. When we are standing still, we feel that we must find something to do. Meditation helps us to take time for our mind, body, and spirit to rejuvenate. While my book, and earlier hub, suggests an hour for meditation, let's face facts -- it's not going to happen with a Type A person, or at least it won't at the beginning. As the person continues to meditate, the extended time will come naturally. Let's take meditation one step at a time (or in this case, one moment at a time). Here are a few suggestions I recommend for those who want to meditate, but they cannot see themselves sitting for an extended period of time.
1. Choose the same place and time each day. High-strung people appreciate a schedule and will, more than likely, follow a schedule. If they just have it in their mind to meditate, then everything else will move to the front of the line and meditation will be at the end of the line with no hope of getting to the front. If a set place and time are scheduled, then the mind will become trained for that time frame. It doesn't matter if it's morning, noon, or night; it is important that it is consistent.
2. Choose relaxing music. Music calms the savage beast. The music should be something that you enjoy. I typically will use classical music; however, any type of easy-listening music will work. I do not recommend any music with lyrics because you will begin singing with the artist(s) which will then defeat our meditative process. (As a side note, I do acknowledge the fact that singing with the music is productive in easing an individual; however, for meditative practices, I would refrain from bursting into song.) Once you've chosen your music, then use it as background music -- nice and soft and relaxing. Basically, you are setting the mood/atmosphere.
3. Plan to meditate for 5 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly -- 5 minutes and 5 minutes only. Remember, those who are high-strung cannot even conceive the thought of sitting for a long period of time. Five minutes is a good length of time to begin the meditative process. During those 5 minutes, concentrate on your breathing -- inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling. I know that sounds elementary; however, it is a given fact that the mind cannot think about two things at once. If you are concentrating on your breathing, then you cannot think about anything else. Close your eyes and breathe. Simple enough, right? Well, not necessarily.
4. Be aware of other thoughts. While sitting for five minutes and concentrating on your breathing sound easy and uncomplicated, it can become frustrating when other thoughts parade into your mind. Please, don't beat yourself over the head when you catch yourself thinking about something else. It's going to happen. When it does, simply acknowledge it and return your concentration to your breathing. For example, when I begin the meditative process, I always begin with concentrative breathing (focusing on my breathing). Oftentimes, as I'm beginning to relax and am focused on inhaling and exhaling and inhaling and exhaling, something from school will jump into my mind. As soon as this occurs, I will say something like "okay, I realize that I'm thinking about such-and-such. I am now returning my focus to my breathing and I will think about such-and-such later." Does this work? Yes and no. I will return to my breathing; however, the thought will make a U-turn and here it comes again. I then repeat what I said earlier. In essence, what I am doing is training my mind to not think about outside situations but to think only on breathing and relaxing. It takes practice, but I assure you that you can win the battle of the mind.
5. Plan to add more time as you feel comfortable. Five minutes is a starting point, not the end result. You are in control of your meditative process, and you determine when you are ready for more meditative time. During the next five minutes, you may want to add Scripture, an acclamation, a poem, etc. Anything that you have memorized or can read easily as you meditate.
Please pay close attention to the beginning time frame -- five minutes. When someone chooses to run a marathon, he/she doesn't just awaken one morning and declare "you know what? I'm going to run in that marathon this morning." He/she will begin preparing for it by running short distances and then adding feet and then miles until he/she has reached the goal for the marathon. Meditation is similar to a marathon. We begin small and add increments as we feel confident and comfortable.
The most important part of meditation is simply doing it. Begin with five minutes and add until your heart's content. It will be the most productive time spent for the unity of mind, body, and spirit.