Meditation – a practical toolSarah Cavanagh
Meditation is a practical tool for life. Through meditation, we begin to emerge and enhance a whole new set of skills to manage, enjoy and thrive in our lives. Anyone can emerge these skills if they want to. Everyone can benefit, wherever they are in the world, whatever they are doing, whoever they are if they are prepared to put in a little investment of time and study themselves.
What are these skills that allow me to thrive, instead of just survive?
Self-awareness is one; watching myself thinking, and seeing the repercussions of those thoughts and how they affect my feelings. Another is concentration, where I can develop the practice of focusing on one thing, whether that be breathing, a candle flame or holding a beautiful thought. This concentration strengthens my ability to stay present, alert to all possibilities and potential. Understanding and accepting the bigger picture is another valuable skill for life. The habit of stepping out my own chaos for a few minutes, changing my perception, letting to, restoring some inner calm, clarity or hope.
When we practise meditation over a series of weeks, months, years, consistently, we begin to use these tools more and more. As we watch and listen to ourselves, paradoxically we become less self indulgent, more in touch with life, our own and others’ lives, the life of the planet, rhythms, patterns, possibilities. These emerged skills morph into a whole new approach to life which becomes second nature. Natural. And so we begin to see that meditation is a way of life. At any given moment we can choose to understand and approach life in a particular way and reap the benefits of that.
To consolidate these tools, to reinforce this approach, I like to sit at the end of every day and embed these skills deeper and deeper. I light a candle, a bright, vibrant colour, orange perhaps, with a light fragrance that reminds me of fruit, abundance, sweetness. Some yellow tulips sit nearby, themselves full of life, colour, stillness. Some gentle music, a slow rhythm to remind me to slow my own thinking, and my body is still, calm, resting, relaxed. I choose a thought. I become self aware. I am calm. I concentrate on calm. I understand and accept that before this half hour and perhaps after this half hour there are things to do, family pulls, work calls, but for this half hour, I commit myself to calm.
I am, in effect, developing a ‘muscle’ that enables me to come back to calm in an instant. So when there is no candle, flowers or soft music, I can still emerge the conscious and subconscious experience of ‘calm’.
The Just-a-Minute meditation are perfect for any beginner wanting to develop a new set of skills for life. They are a good first step to begin training these ‘muscles’ of self awareness, concentration, understanding and acceptance. And after that? A world full of possibilities and potential awaits.