Prayer beyond Thoughts: Turning Meditation into a Daily Routine
“When the voice and the vision on the inside become more profound, clear and loud than the opinions on the outside, you’ve mastered your life!”–Dr.JohnDemartini
There are a multitude of benefits for turning to meditation. To me the most important reason for prayer is to receive inner guidance.
Funny how I use the words ‘prayer’ and ‘meditation’ interchangeably. From my personal perspective, the boundaries blur as prayer becomes meditation and meditation becomes prayer. This article, however, deals with that form of prayer that is beyond thoughts---meditation.
The meditation practices I use can be grouped into two types:
· Sitting Meditation, for example, silent sitting meditation
· Mindful Awareness (Going-about) Meditation, that is, a process that we can use while going about during the conduct of our daily routine
Silent Sitting Meditation
To begin, one simply checks one’s posture, following the acronym S-L-A-T-E-M:
· S: Seat, check that you are seated squarely on the floor or on a chair. This may be using the lotus position, but not required. Depending on one’s comfort level, a chair may be used instead.
· L: Legs, become aware of any feeling in your legs and try to position them such that they are steady and comfortable as much as possible.
· A: Arms, same with the Legs. Hands resting on the knees.
· T: Torso, straight and with a slightly forward S-curve
· E: Eyes, focus on a point (e.g. on the floor) about 3 to 4 feet in front of you
· M: Mouth, closed and relaxed.
· Set a timer to go off, for example, after 5 minutes. The length of time varies depending on your comfort zone with putting up with ‘doing nothing’. This could be as short as 1 minute, for beginners, gradually increasing as one’ s comfort zone adjusts. After six years of the practice, I have decided to stay with 40 minutes for when I have sufficient time and shorter sittings during weekdays.
It’s been said that, for those who have limited opportunity, even a short five-minute daily practice does wonders.
· Optionally, begin with a short prayer
· Attitude to self or experience of sitting: curious, open, nurturing, attentive and accepting
· Focus on the breath as you inhale and exhale. I have adopted the Hamsa mantra, silently sounding off ‘Ham’ when I inhale and ‘sa’ when I exhale.
· If a thought or feeling arises, silently acknowledge it using the word “thinking”, then go back to focusing on the breath. Refrain from judging a thought as good or bad, simply accept its is-ness.
The idea of using “thinking” (for thoughts arising) during silent sitting can be extended to experiences in daily life, silently saying “thinking” as thoughts or feelings arise. Relatedly, as discussed in a previous article, one may extend the perspective of including one’s own thoughts and feelings as part of the environment, instead of identifying with them, understanding that these are not aspects of the true Self.
Simplified Three-Step Process and Keywords:
Dealing with ‘Stray’ Thoughts
Stray thoughts while doing meditation may turn out to be not what they seem to be. Some have pursued the suggestion of saying ‘thinking’ then returning to the awareness of the breath; others have pursued the thought into the ideas they represent. An example of the latter would be writers who feel the need to pause meditating to put down the idea for their article, before they forget.
That practice could lead to distraction and away from a more soulful, fruitful meditation. What I found effective is to acknowledge the creative idea with “thinking”, moving on to the next breath, allowing for the creative idea to be available for recall after the silent sitting meditation. After all, if it’s really important to communicate the idea, then it will communicate itself to whoever needs to write it.
Mindful Awareness (Going-About) Meditation
While washing the bowl, become aware of the smoothness of the porcelain, the coolness of the water, the shimmery globules of the soap suds. Optionally, quietly say “thinking” as unrelated thoughts or feelings arise.
Involve your mind and all of your senses into the experience of the present moment.
That would be a shortcut description of the procedure for this type of meditation that we have the option to use during the performance of our daily routine. While walking, be aware of the leg that steps forward, then your hips as your balance shifts, then your next leg as it steps forward.
Therein lies the power of moment. In contrast, we lose our power when, while in the actual performance of something, our thoughts are occupied by things of the past or the future.
Much has been said about the power of being present to the moment. Literature about mindfulness abounds: Mindfulness: Choice and Control in Everyday Life - Ellen J. Langer and The Power of Now, for example. In previous articles, we have also dealt with the idea of using another perspective in our business of going about in our daily lives: Enlightenment as a One-Step Procedure.
Note: It is this type of meditation, mindful awareness, that can be easily turned into a daily routine.
The Great Teacher
Over the years, I have derived much insight, directly or indirectly, from the practice of prayer beyond thoughts or meditation: (I have mentioned about this experience in Creative Writing 101: Hubpages Topics and Insights from Dreams) directly, obtaining an insight while or immediately after a sitting, or indirectly, going about my daily routine and obtaining insights from out of the blue.
For those who have not had the opportunity to get in touch with a meditation teacher, these procedures might be helpful.
These techniques or processes have been learned from limited opportunities: a few beginners’ seatings with a teacher and later on entirely without teacher. For those of us who have the opportunity, it may be best to seek out a teacher. In my case, I have since hoped for one but a teacher never happened in to my life (after the beginners’ seatings). I believe that if it is God’s will for me to make the acquaintance …,
When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.
Or has the Teacher arrived, unannounced and unobtrusively, in the person of the Paraclete?
Here are some of the benefits of meditation cited by http://www.in5d.com/benefits-of-meditation.html.
80- Helps keep things in perspective
81- Provides peace of mind, happiness
82- Helps you discover your purpose
83- Increased self-actualization.
84- Increased compassion
85- Growing wisdom
86- Deeper understanding of yourself and others
87- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony
88- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation
89- Increased acceptance of oneself
90- helps learn forgiveness
91- Changes attitude toward life
92- Creates a deeper relationship with your God
93- Attain enlightenment
94- greater inner-directedness
95- Helps living in the present moment
96- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love
97- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego
98- Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness”
99- Experience a sense of “Oneness”
100- Increases the synchronicity in your life’
(The italicizations are mine, as relating to my recent Hubpages articles.)