Along those lines, I've been trying to find a practical, simple way to learn to effectively meditate. I've studied and tried some different methods. I've purchased and tried out a headset that displays my brain waves, and shows me if I've hit the "zone" of delta or theta waves- the ones indicating meditation states. I've tried 5 minute meditations, humming, staring, visualizing, counting breaths, using beads, emptying my mind, listening to binaural tones, listening to Deepak Chopra's series, guided meditations, unguided meditations, and haven't yet stuck with anything.
I asked myself why I haven't felt successful yet. I think it's because I keep having the same issue of my mind wandering. Or falling asleep. Or sometimes I feel more frustrated than peaceful. So I try something else until I hit the same sorts of snags.
I'm blessed to be in Florida for a few days with my parents and my sisters. Big thanks to my husband, Evan, for encouraging me to go when I had the chance. I don't have very many opportunities to see my sisters, who live in different far away states. So this wonderful opportunity is a very rare blessing and I'm so happy to be here.
Being away has given me the chance to read more. I brought along a really good book, How to Meditate, a guide to self-discovery by Lawrence LeShan. It's immensely readable, and I like his sense of humor too. I'm learning something very important from this book - there are no shortcuts. Meditation is work. It just is. It needs to be done consistently, and it's common to hit snags. You still have to keep doing it. Some days will be good, some will be not good. It doesn't mean to stop or try something new. LeShan offers many different methods, with clear explanations of the purpose and approach (emotional, intellectual, and other categories) of each. He advocates for choosing one that seems to fit your style now, not what you want it to be. Then you are advised to work with the style daily for at least three weeks before deciding if you like it or not.
LeShan says that meditation is work. Period. There are no shortcuts, and if you're looking for enlightenment or psychic experiences, then you're basically doing it wrong. While one might, from time to time, experience some intuitive experiences (flashes of light, psychic phenomena), they are to be enjoyed for the moment, and then you get back to the work of meditating. If they are your reason for meditating, you are meditating for the wrong reason, and you'll lose your progress in both areas should they become your focus.
While I am wishing that there was a quick, practical approach, and I also do teach about doing mini meditations during the day (such as taking 3-5 slow deep breaths while washing the hands or at a red light), I understand that meditation is really more than that. There doesn't seem to be a quick way to get there. It is work. But the benefits make it worthwhile if you can stick it out.
Up to now, I've been a lazy meditator. I know, though, that there are benefits to following through. I've seen the results in my friends who are very intuitive. They credit meditation with the increase in their intuitive abilities. That's what I want to achieve as well. Not during meditation, but during my regular intuitive work.
One thing that I really loved in his book is this quote - it's not about meditating, but about letting your experience teach you what's true. This idea is something that I teach ALL of my students, in every class.
"In the Kalama Sutra, a statement attributed to the Buddha states: 'Do not believe on the strength of traditions even if they have been held in honour for many generations and in many places; do not believe anything because many people speak of it; do not believe on the strength of sagas of old times; do not believe that which you have yourself imagined, thinking a god has inspired you. Believe nothing which depends only on the authority of your masters or of priests. After investigation, believe that which you yourself have tested and found reasonable, and which is for your good and that of others.'"Surprisingly (to me), he talks with some measure of disdain about chakras and energy work in this book, saying that they are basically fake. I kinda laugh at that, because I really disagree. But he's a science guy, and so I guess I understand.
LeShan also wrote another book that I'm reading this trip. It's called The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist. In it, he gets fascinated with energy healing, including distance healing, and after doing a lot of research, he determines what psychic healers "do", and he trained himself how to do it. Then he experimented with seeing if it would work. I love that he did this. I mean, he trained himself how to be a psychic healer (his term), and let his experience teach him if it would work.
That's my approach to learning intuitive skills - to try and see, and keep experimenting until there are enough consistent results for me to believe it's working. I seriously love that he did this.
So because he and I seem to have this approach in common, I'm going to give meditation a try again, and follow his suggestions. I'll keep you posted.
Now I'm going to enjoy my last day on the beach for this trip!