SMW’s Duchess Digest: Why It’s Great to Meditate

I spent the past weekend in Manhattan attending an Omega Institute Urban Conference hosted by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. The subject matter of the conference was Meditation and its applications in the blending of Eastern and Western psychology. I was jotting away feverishly while these two speakers continuously shared insight, wisdom and simplistic tools we can use every day to calm and train our minds through the practice of meditation.

Great MeditationI have been practicing meditation daily for about six months. Usually I can only sit for twenty minutes before my leg starts twitching or I become impatient. I found this frustrating at first. I also found the lack of anything “happening” frustrating. I hear people talk about their states of bliss, being held in the palm of God, or other euphoric experiences. I on the other hand, usually just hear incessant chattering. Occasionally the chattering gets shaken up with random images interjected (a few weeks ago it was a chicken – not joking – mid thought the image of a speckled chicken just popped right in there – “Bock-Bock-Bockaw!”).

After a few months of frustration I finally realized that I needed to let go of the need for an experience. I started trying to simply settle into my practice without expectations. Even if it was only for twenty minutes. Even if I was restless the whole time. I tried to just focus on my breath, in, out, in, out and relax. As long as I sat for twenty minutes and did my best I considered the day’s meditation a success.

Due to my own struggles with meditation, I found one particular exercise Tara Brach led at the conference very helpful. She guided the group through a meditation and asked us to just observe our thoughts for a moment. When we ended a few minutes later she asked people to reflect on their thoughts. Then she said, “My guess is that if the person sitting next to you whispered in your ear all the things you were just thinking in your head – you’d think they were crazy!” The whole conference started laughing. We all knew it was true. So why do we let ourselves talk to us like that? Being conscious of our thoughts is a great skill to learn. Because if we can be aware of the things we are saying, we can stop the negative chatter and try playing nice with ourselves!

The next time you get caught up in a story or some negative self-talk, try this exercise. Ask yourself two questions. “Who is creating this story?” and “Is it true?” It’s a great tool to separate the truth from our assumptions and stories. Those two questions can help you to get your thoughts back on track, to be a little gentler and kinder. I encourage you to use those questions consciously and to practice meditation. Not to experience nirvana or enlightenment (although if you do that’s a pretty nice side effect) but to challenge your mind and call it out the next time it is being a bully.

Jill Brown - Duchess GuideJill Brown is a Los Angeles, California based Life Coach and Writer. She earned her Bachelors in Humanities and Sociology from USU and is a member of the National Association for Conflict Resolution and the Ladies Who Launch Network. She is the founder of “The Duchess Guide” a website dedicated to helping women become their most fabulous and unique selves. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, traveler and health nut. When she isn’t writing or working on Duchess, Jill loves spending all her free time with her Labrador – Betty. For more on The Duchess Guide or Jill visit: www.theduchessguide.com