Has anyone seen or read Eat, Pray Love? You know the part where Liz Gilbert is in the Indian Ashram struggling to get into the zone while her mind wanders absolutely everywhere it shouldn’t. Well, that’s me. Three times a day. Seven days a week. I’m not sure what it is, but nothing brings more angst than the idea of doing absolutely nothing for 45 minutes. The thing that constantly brings me back to my meditation stool though is knowing just how darn good the practice is for me. That and the hope that one of these days I am going to get the hang of it.
Meditation is a major part of my personal healing journey, and for good reason. When I first started looking into natural healing methods I read a book called You Can Conquer Cancer by Ian Gawler. Ian’s story is amazing, but it’s also pretty long and complex so I’ll tell the short version. At 23, Ian was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg. He had his leg amputated at the hip but after a while the cancer returned in his body. It got pretty bad and at his lowest ebb he was given two weeks to live. Ian did absolutely everything he could to beat the disease – using both conventional and alternative treatments. He took on the diet, juicing, enemas and even flew to the Philippines to seek help from psychic surgeons. But the number one factor Ian credits to his survival is meditation. He meditated for five hours a day!
The method of meditation that worked for Ian and the one that I think is most useful in healing is called Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness simply means to be aware of what is happening in the present moment. Meditating in this manner, goes a little something like this …
1. Adjust your position so that it is symmetrical, upright and open, and a little uncomfortable (if you’re too comfy you could fall asleep).
2. Close your eyes and gently focus your attention on the space in front of them, between your eyebrows.
3. Concentrate on and listen to your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of the abdomen on each inhalation and exhalation.
4. Open your awareness to include the sounds around you – outside and inside the room.
5. You’ll find your mind will tend to wander. That’s OK. When it does, just bring your attention back to your breathing and the sounds you hear.
6. Try to sit and keep your mind calm for as long as you can. Start with 20 minutes a day and work yourself up. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to hold this mental focus.
Mindfulness meditation may seem tricky to begin with, but that is because you are not trying to achieve anything besides the ability to be comfortable and content with your own presence. It’s not goal orientated, there are no distractions, nothing to keep your mind busy and nothing to keep your thoughts from wandering over to dinnertime. Difficulty aside, mindfulness meditation will bring about wonderful results. Plus, the more you practice, the easier it gets.