Meditation Myths And The Truths That Will Set You Free

in Healthy Living

stackedrocks

Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet.

It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there

– buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.

– Deepak Chopra

I’m an active person.  The joke in my family is that I don’t know what our sofa feels like because I never sit down.   Not only does my energy and activity level pertain to my physical body, but also to my mind – I’m always thinking and processing.   Sounds exhausting?  It can be.

Recently I have implemented the daily practice of meditation in my life and it’s helped me tremendously.  Learning how to be still and present has been a path to more peace, joy, creativity, security and clarity.  Now I see meditation as another way to be healthy and live my best life.

I started meditating with Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s  free 21 Day Meditation Challenge.  After that challenge I was hooked.  I won’t say that it is always easy.  Some days my mind wanders the entire time I’m meditating, but even so I still think there is value in sitting still and being fully present in my body and mind with awareness and without judgement.

If you don’t meditate yet and have some reservations, maybe I can help dispel some myths.  I am no expert by any means, but this is what I have found to be true:

Myth: I need a special meditation room.

Truth:  You just need a quiet place.  I mediate in my living room, on the sofa (I am using the sofa!) or in my bedroom on a chair.   And “quiet” does not mean that you will not hear any noise.  My home sits on a busy corner, so no matter where I am, I hear traffic noise.   During meditation you will hear noise, but the goal is to not let it become your focus of attention.  Just let the noise be without any thought or judgement.  If noise is particularly distracting to you, you can listen to white noise or music while you meditate (there’s an app for that, try Noisli).  Mostly I meditate without background noise, but I did like the soft Zen music playing during the 21 Day Meditation Challenge so I might try that sometime.

Myth: Meditation is contrary to prayer.

Truth:  Meditation and prayer are not at odds – they are complementary.  I still pray a prayer of thanks every morning before my feet hit the floor and a longer more intentional prayer before or after I meditate.  I forgot where I heard this, but it’s a good answer to the meditation vs. prayer quandary: Prayer is when you talk to God and meditation is when you listen to God.   How can you even listen to what God is trying to tell you if you won’t sit still long enough to hear it?

Myth: Meditation is New Age and for those who believe in “woo-woo.”

Truth: There is some form of meditation in most spiritual practices, although it may be called something else.  In Christianity it is called Contemplative Prayer or Centering Prayer.  Don’t get hung up on labels.  If you feel more comfortable saying “I’m going to sit now and be still” then say that.  But the key is having intention around being still.  You are not going just sitting still to relax your body, you are actively relaxing and focusing your mind.  You are mindfully being present.

Myth:  I need to say a mantra while meditating.

Truth: There is no right or wrong way.   A mantra may be helpful to bring your focus back to the present moment (if you are concentrating on a mantra then you are not thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner) or it may be distracting or not useful for you.   Do what makes you feel comfortable.  Personally I like to focus on the rising and falling of my breath in my meditation, although I did enjoy saying Deepak Chopra’s mantras during the 21 Day Challenge.

Myth: I don’t have time in my day to meditate.

Truth: We make time for what’s important.   I find that I need about 15 minutes to stop hearing noise and being distracted by my thoughts before I transfer into another zone, so a minimum of 20 minutes is ideal.  But start where you are; if you can only meditate for 10 minutes, start there.

I hope that I helped bring you closer to starting a meditation practice of your own.   There is no shortage of information out there, but here are some resources that I have used.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!

Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple by Russell Simmons.  Russell really breaks down meditation in an easy non-threatening way and he gives very practical examples of how meditation helps him in all aspects of his life.

Deepak Chopra’s website is a wealth of information.  Look out for another free 21 Day Challenge or there are plenty of guided meditations for sale on the website.  I really enjoyed Deepak’s guided meditations during the 21 Day Challenge.  He helped set the intention for that day and I always learned something new or got a new insight.

Headspace: This is a good app for a beginner because it explains the benefits of meditation in cute animation shorts before each guided meditation.  The first 10 sessions are free and then a subscription is needed to access more guided meditations.

Mindfulness: This app has both guided and silent meditations.  I like that you can personalize your meditation by length and also add bells.

buddhify: My son really likes this app.  There are many guided meditations for different situations (traveling, going to sleep, walking) and also a solo practice with a timer.

Ananda – Living In Love, Infinite Abundance:  these are two different apps, both by the Chopra Center.   Within this app you are able to choose background music and combine the music with a guided meditation.   All the music downloads are free, but the app only comes with one free guided meditation; the rest have to be purchased within the app.  I haven’t used this yet, but because I did enjoy Deepak’s 21 Day Challenge so much, I can see the value of purchasing the guided meditations.

 

FOOTNOTE: I was going to end this blog post with the word Namaste – a word often spoken at the end of yoga class and meditation loosely translated to mean “the divine (or God) in me honors the divine in you” – but then I thought better of it.   Even though I just bought a t-shirt that says Namaste Everyday because I liked how it fit, as a Christian – a believer of Jesus Christ as the the son of God, – how do I really feel about that word?   I am very clear that meditation is good for me and not contrary to my Christian values.  I view meditation as an opportunity to be still and present enough to hear from God – not “The Universe” or “Divine Being” (although he is all all those things), but God with a capital G – The Great I Am, The Alpha and The Omega.    There is no question about the intention of meditation for me.

But what about saying “Namaste?” I know it has roots in Hindu culture and while I do respect other cultural and religious practices, I am also careful not to make them my own.  I think those who are easily swayed are those who do not guard their hearts.   But since I had never really researched it before, down the Google rabbit-hole I traveled and after much reading on both sides of the debate, I have ended up on the side of Namaste.    We are all created in the image of God and therefore in my opinion honoring the image of God in someone else is only recognizing our Oneness in Him and therefore respecting Him as the creator and Lord of all!  This post on Paleo Spirt (a blog written by a paleo-eating, Christian-believing, yoga-doing woman – someone I can really get with!) fostered a really good debate in the comments section.   And this article from Christianity Today makes a great case for practicing yoga, while still acknowledging that it’s cultural roots are historically opposed to Christianity.  You decide what is affirming to you.  As for me –

Namaste.

 

© 2014, Funkidivagirl.com. All rights reserved. Republished only with permission.

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Wisdom Begins In Wonder

in Best of Funkidivagirl.com, What About Me

Wisdom begins in Wonder.

-Socrates

Earlier this year I was asked to be in a Super Soul Sunday Original Short by filmmaker Jason Perez.   I was asked to talk about my favorite word.  Many words came to mind – fearless, grace, joy – but the word that stuck with me the most was WONDER.  To me wonder means being open and fully present to the beauty all around us – in nature, in people, in big once-in-a-lifetime experiences and in the everyday.  It’s also an awareness of the intrinsic connection between everything and everyone and just how blessed we all are to live in and experience this incredible world that God has created.  It’s an honor.

Sitting at my laptop writing this, I look out the window and – wow! – the sky is really blue, just so perfect and lovely.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

-Mary Oliver

Take some time today to wonder.

© 2014, Funkidivagirl.com. All rights reserved. Republished only with permission.

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Goodbye My Friend

in Deep Stuff

I wish I had something sassy to say this week, something pithy and wild and fun.  But instead I’m grieving the loss of my friend and I quite don’t know what to do with myself.    Without thinking or editing I posted the following tribute on my personal Facebook page.   It was comforting, to remember and to publicly give her love.  It feels right to do it here too.

I met Michele Harris Bennett at age 10. Along with Beverly, we were known as Slick, Smooth and Wiz and ruled the playground at Pottawatomie Hills Elementary School (we were benevolent dictators) and the queens of Four Square. There was a crew of about 5 of us, including Tracie and Lonnae, who rode our bikes to Baskin Robbins, the library and the park. Every weekend was a sleepover. Even when I moved to Minnesota, Michele and I kept in touch – back when phone calls (Long distance! On a landline!), postal mail and plane rides to visit were necessary to sustain a friendship. People didn’t have a gazillon friends back then because it took more effort. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and we were pregnant at the same time. Many moves, kids, work and well, life, didn’t allow us to talk or visit as often as we liked over the last few years, but we always had that bond, you know the one that was formed with a flashlight under the covers when we should have been sleeping, but instead reading the liner notes on the latest Prince album. I knew her so well. I knew the important stuff (like which boy she really liked) and I knew the silly stuff. Her nickname was Mimi. She had hamsters named Mookie and Wilton. Her mom taught us how to leg wrestle. She’s the first kid I knew who drank coffee. She was very funny. She dressed preppy – even before it was a thing. As much as I wanted to wear Izod shirts, they didn’t look as good on me as they did Michele. I could go on and on because when you know someone for that long, there is so much to tell. And I CAN NOT BELIEVE that she is gone. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.  I loved her.

Goodbye my friend.

Michele-EasterBunny

 

© 2014, Funkidivagirl.com. All rights reserved. Republished only with permission.

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Life. Wow.

in What About Me

So, if you have been following my blog (or not following, as it has been) you will see that I haven’t blogged since Christmas.   Life caught up with me in a big way and I was doing well to just keep breathing.  But with the big kid back in college and the not-so-little-kid back in school (Junior high!  How did that happen?), I’m determined to get back to blogging on a regular basis.  Please extend me a bit of grace while I clear out the cobwebs.

I moved.  Not far, just a block from my own house, but moving is a bitch always.  But then I redecorate, which was sort of, kind of fun (in a creative, yet tortuous way).  I promise to blog about that because I did some pretty cool stuff, even a few DIYs which is so out my comfort zone that I must invite you all over (through my blog) and show off my fabulous projects.

I took my daughter to France, a week after we moved – just because I wanted to push the crazy lever up as far as it could go.  I will blog about that trip because we really had a good time and I will take any excuse to talk or write about France.

I had some personal challenges as well that sucked the life out of me.   I sure that I am personally financing the redecorating of my therapist’s beach house.

I started meditating.  It’s been good for me.   And it’s free.

I had a birthday.   Actually it was a very nice birthday with lots of celebrating with family and friends, but birthdays always get me in a reflective mood.  Anne Lamott is always good for a life-check.  This quote by Mary Oliver especially struck a cord with me: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What indeed?  What am I going to do with my one wild and precious life?  I thought about it and on the eve of my birthday I wrote this response:

Time is passing swiftly.   I could die tomorrow of course.   But even if I don’t, I am aware of how much I want to live.  I have been on a mission for the last few years to live LOUD and I want to turn it up even more.  This does not mean I want a fast car and no responsibilities.  On the contrary I want to be responsibly aware of all the gifts and blessings in my life.

I want my faith to be LOUD: in constant communication with and worship of God, living to glorify him in all that I do.

I want to be LOUD with people: authentic, helpful and kind.

I want to travel through the world LOUD: being fully present and immersed wherever I am.

I want to take care of my body LOUD: feeding it the best food, giving it both proper rest and exercise, being mindful of how it changes and feels daily and treating it kindly.

I want to notice everything in my path with LOUD awareness from the way that a hawk circling the sky is both scary and awesome to the emerging beauty of my daughter.   Like Alice Walker said in The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”  I want to always notice the color purple.

My friend is dying.   She’s my age.   This is not a dress rehearsal.

Life. Wow.

purplefield

© 2014, Funkidivagirl.com. All rights reserved. Republished only with permission.

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Christmas Countdown

in Christmas

So this is basically how Christmas is going for me this year:

Bitstrip

It’s funny, but also true.  I’m not a Strooge – Christmas is my favorite holiday – but after 20 years of being the sole  Magical Elf in my family, I’m just burnt.   But since  I have this little girl at home who wants a Christmas tree and homemade gingerbread cookies, making her happy and giving her the Christmas she wants trumps my desire to get on a jet plane bound for the Caribbean and chuck the whole thing.

So in the spirit of Christmas, I’m answering a couple of Mama Kat’s writing prompts:  1. Write a blog post inspired by the word pajamas. 2. A favorite holiday tradition.

Everyone gets new pajamas in my house to wear on Christmas Eve; it’s a holiday tradition born out of my desire to have good-looking people in my Christmas morning photos.

I usually buy PJ Savage pajamas for myself; this is the pair that I chose this year:

PJSavagebottoms

My daughter wanted a “onesie” and we found the perfect one at Gapkids:

onsie

My husband decided that he too wanted to wear a onesie.  Dear God, NO!  Although there are plenty of onesies available online for adults (why, God, why?), we are all discouraging this sure to be horrifying look.  So far he hasn’t gotten around to buying one.  Let’s hope he doesn’t.

Another tradition that we continue each year is buying new ornaments for the family; we have amassed quite a collection.   We buy ornaments on every trip that we take and try to buy an ornament for each family member to reflect something that they did that year.   These are ornaments from our travels to Washington DC, New Orleans, Nashville, Hilton Head, Montreal and Québec City.

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If you have ever read my Christmas blog posts before, you know that I change my color scheme for Christmas decorations every year.  Recently I’ve narrowed it done to 4 rotating color schemes because it was too stressful thinking of new colors each year.  This year the color scheme is “colorful.”  I found some beautiful color bulbs at Michael’s (on sale too!), and used colored lights, some colorful spangly sticks and funky Whooville-like present sticks to decorate the Christmas tree.   Most of the tree is covered with our family ornaments.  My daughter says that one day soon we will need two trees to hold them all.  As if I would decorate two trees!

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So that’s how I’m surviving enjoying this Christmas season.  What about you?

**BONUS FOOTAGE**

Are you one of those Christmas crafty types?  I am not, but my daughter loves crafting; she made this cute snowman cocoa kit for her classroom Secret Santa gift.   She got the idea from Anne or Shine.  If you want to be crafty this Christmas, my daughter highly recommends Ann’s DIY projects.

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(I think that she really wants to keep this for herself.)

© 2013, Funkidivagirl.com. All rights reserved. Republished only with permission.

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