Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why meditation is good for we twentysomethings

A little while back my friend Ryan showed me a blog by a guy named Ronnie Nurss, entitled "Why Gen-Y Should Practice Mediation."

Ronnie has some good points. It helps you focus, control your thoughts, etc. And, of course, all of the good things I listed in my last post.

But aside from the obvious, all the usual benefits and reasons why everyone should meditate, there are some good reasons why our generation specifically should consider meditation:

Generations X and Y (I'm never sure which one I really identify with more) have been raised in an incredibly technological, fast-paced era. We're used to watching TV while texting our friends and surfing the internet. We're great multitaskers, and can be incredibly efficient when we want to be. But it also means a lot of us have trouble slowing down. With all of the thoughts whirring through our heads, we lie awake at night because we can't stop thinking. Meditation helps us to slow that down (when we want to) and have more control over what we think about, when, and how much.

For example, consider a time in your life when something happened and stuck with you all day - someone was rude at the grocery store, a friend got mad at you over a misunderstanding, etc. -  and it's all you were able to think about all day. You ruminate over it. Whatever the emotion tied to that interaction was, such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, it stays with you all day. Maybe it ruined a night out because you were thinking about it. Maybe you jumped on someone else because you were still angry about it. It's not a very easy way to go through life. 

When we meditate, we learn to control our thoughts so that we can leave those things behind and not be affected by them (at least, not as much) as we go through our day. So meditating can actually make you more efficient and increase your ability to deal with stress and other sorts of emotionally charged situations. 

Another defining feature of our generation(s) is that we are stuff-oriented. We get a lot of joy out of having things. We all know that wanting things requires money, and a lot of stress gets created around earning the money to get the thing, or about getting the thing if it's in high demand. Not to mention all of the usual angst of being a young adult - feeling like we're not good enough, agonizing over relationships, not being sure of ourselves... Meditation helps us learn that fulfillment comes from within. It can help us achieve that fulfillment and recognition within ourselves. It helps us to become more balanced, even-keel people.

A lot of people our age don't sleep well. I don't have any facts to back that statement up, but anecdotal evidence from my peers supports it. I think it's because of the ruminating, the over-stimulation, and the fact that we have all the tech stuff to stay up and play with (think of the nights you've stayed up a little later than you should've chatting with a friend online, playing a game, or even just surfing facebook) that we don't sleep. Meditation helps with that, too - it slows the thoughts, helps calm us down and relax, and can easily guide us into a deep state of rest. 

Meditation brings us into better alignment with our inner knowledge - our deepest self, intuition, and spirit. Many people in their twenties go through the "quarter life crisis" of not knowing what to do, where to live, or what will bring them joy. When we get quiet through meditation, we are more able to get in touch with the deepest part of ourselves that knows what will bring us the greatest fulfillment. Once we are able to connect with that inner knowingness, it becomes much easier to make decisions about our lives - to know what it is that we want to do, what kind of people we want to be with, and what will bring us the greatest joy. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Let me try to explain

...if I can. I often find myself trying to explain Ascension to my friends. I really find my practice useful, and I want to encourage people to learn about it, because I think it could help them. It helped me to stop being an insomniac and get off anxiety pills. So when I hear people talking about problems they're having, I want to tell them about it.

But describing the practice is difficult. I think Lyrea explained it best to me when she said we use techniques to get ourselves into a meditative state. So that's the basic part. But there's more to it than that. I just don't begin to know how to talk about it without it sounding New-Agey or esoteric.

So instead of describing it, here's a list of the things I like about it:

- it's easy
- it can be done anywhere, any time, sitting with eyes closed or with them open while you're having a conversation with someone or while you're running or whenever.
- You don't have to sit any particular way; you can lie down if that's easier.
- If you sometimes fall asleep doing it, that's totally allowed. In fact, that's how I get to sleep so quickly at night.
- It helps the body to heal physical issues as well as emotional or psychological ones.
- It greatly reduces stress.
- It's gentle, unlike some kinds of energetic/psychological healing.
- Everyone goes at their own speed, and goes through the whole process in their own way.

Yeah. I encourage people to read Lyrea's description of it. If you're interested in learning more, going to an introductory session is a great way to do that. She talks and answers questions. I'm hosting one on Sunday evening for friends; I'm sure I'll have some things to post about after that. (and probably before. :))

Monday, May 12, 2008

sitting time

I'm feeling more "back to normal" this week than I did last week. I miss the blissful slow-motion I felt like I was going through last week, but at the same time it's a little easier to function with other people when I'm moving more at their pace. Funny thing is, I'm sure I'm still slower (in a very good way) than I was during my hyper-caffeinated, over-committed, and under-thought college years.

Now I have to figure out where to fit sitting time into my schedule again. I'm applying for jobs right now, so I know my whole schedule will change again soon. It seems that finding good times to sit is always a challenge.

I love the idea of getting up early and sitting to start my day, but there is no motivation for that when my bed is warm and the air is cold. Or when my boyfriend is over. Or when it means getting up before 7 because I have other things I have to do that morning. And that covers most mornings.

I had managed to get used to sitting right when I got home from work (and would be wanting a nap anyway) but now that I'm not working it's easy to let the whole day slide by thinking "I'll find time later." Of course, then there are other days when I just crave a good sit and will plop down for an hour or more two or three times.

I guess it's all a balancing act.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Re-entry can be tough

I just got back from a 5-day meditation retreat. It was a wonderful weekend, but it's always a little tricky to come back to "normal" life after spending five days sitting quietly, often blissfully out in nature. 

The first night back, my dad asked how the weekend had been. I described this phenomenon to him, and he replied that "you gotta come back to reality sometime." Immediately it hit me that this - drinking beer in front of the tv - seemed less like reality to me than communing with nature and divine wisdom does. I simply responded that I felt the weekend wasn't in any way an escape from reality, but just a different experience of it. 

Because really, this is his reality. Everyone has their own reality - whatever you are experiencing in any given moment is your reality in that moment. It's just that reality changes depending on your state or your beliefs. 

That brief interaction did give me pause, though. Before people created our current, generally accepted "reality" - before they invented governments and democracies and commerce and religion and all of those self-imposed structures that define life for most of us - there were people, and there was nature, and there was Spirit. I'm not going to judge what is more or less "real," "better," or "natural," I'm just going to reiterate my statement to my dad that to me, the meditation isn't an escape or a fake reality, it's simply a different expression and experience of it.