Gary's Gems for October - The Meditation Edition

Have you ever experienced a seemingly inconsequential event in your life that would turn out to be life-changing? Just over twenty years ago, I crossed paths with a woman who introduced me to ‘guided meditation’. By doing so, she impacted my life more than I could have ever imagined at the time.

I was skeptical at first. “New age” wasn’t my thing. I’m “old-age” with a type “A” personality.  I couldn’t see myself passively sitting crossed-legged on an Indian rug, inhaling incense and exhaling “oms” while listening to pan flutes on repeat.

Her description of the method and benefits of meditation left me suspicious. If it was so easy to find enlightenment and peace, why wasn’t everyone discussing last night’s meditation sessions over coffee at the office?

On the road to self-actualization.

The goal of mediation is to put us in control of our thoughts. Regular meditation she said, will melt away layers of anxiety, depression, fear, phobias, and worry and will lead to self-actualization.  Who doesn’t want to “self-actualize” so I jumped into my first session of guided meditation.

The method.

My guide had me…

  • sit in a comfortable chair,
  • close my eyes
  • take three deep breaths,
  • hold them in for ten seconds
  • then slowly let them out.

The room was still. Spa-like music wafted in the background and her comforting voice guided me through a progressive relaxation exercise. She had me relax different body areas starting with my fingers and hands, then my arms and shoulders, then my head. Next, I focused on my torso, my hips, then my legs, feet and toes.

At this point, my whole body felt heavy and completely relaxed.

The Progress.

The “self-actualization” part would take a lot more focus and much more time.

Emptying your brain is like emptying the garbage – but kinda less smelly.

I had a great deal of difficulty slowing down my brain in the first weeks and months.  I’m one of those guys whose inner-voice never shuts up. It travels in warp drive, ignoring any requests to pull over at a tranquil rest stop.  Learning to simply “be” without traffic controlling all the inputs or stimuli around me was a daunting challenge.

The awakening.

During one of my sessions, I unexpectedly found myself falling into a deep calmness. I felt entirely detached from everything around me. I had slipped under the consciousness radar. As the sessions progressed, I found it easier and easier to  “slip under.”

The high.

I was entering that twilight space between sleep and wakefulness. – the hypnagogic state.  The feeling of relaxation was nothing I had ever known. Each session left me feeling calmer, rested and content. It was like having a months-worth of good sleep.

The existential question.

Where did I go and what was I tapping into?

Ironically, the experience gave my already busy mind more to think about. Was I tapping into an energy that was unconstrained by the laws of physics or was I accessing a part of my brain that is typically buried under trivia?

Whatever the case,  I felt I was connecting with something much greater than myself – a space that held all of our collective potentials and was a well of wisdom and possibilities. Meditation was the portal.

There is a profound calmness that overtakes you as you surrender your ego and ride the cosmic current wherever it takes you.

I participated in guided meditation sessions for fifteen years or so and now continue to meditate on my own.  I feel it helps me to fully embrace the present – in all of its possibilities.  It helps me become more balanced, more creative and more connected with others in ways I had never imagined possible.  I’ve become more connected to myself and attuned to the universe’s loving energy. I’m home.

I invite you to meditate on and find inspiration in these following quotes that have inspired me.

If you’re curious about meditation, guided or not, research resources in your area and check it out. If I had known what meditation would bring to my life, I would have started much earlier.

And now I leave you with this…

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind, there are few.”- Shunryu Suzuki


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In case you missed last month’s Gems, you can read it here: Your Monthly Quotes and Trivia Gems for September

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