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Expanding on Meditation

I decided my first post on meditation needed an update.  I also wanted to post to an internal blog at work, but I couldn’t cover some non work-safe topics. So, some topics may have already been covered.  Hit it, dog!

Part 2

After a recent 60 Minutes piece on Mindfulness, I was contacted by a few friends and family that knew I had been practicing mindfulness through meditation for over a year now, and there have been noticeable changes.
Just a few years ago, I would have brushed it off myself. Now, I’d recommend it to everyone I know.
A lot of people are glued to their smartphones these days. It’s a fairly new technology phase we are going through, and although the technology is convenient, we won’t see long term effects for another generation or so. I gave it a shot because I was tired from sleeping problems and just fed up with hearing about Anxiety in the media.

What convinced me to try was reading up on studies that included brain scans. Meditation has been shown (via MRI scans) to reduce anxiety by shrinking the volume of the amygdala, the region of the brain associated with fear. The result is improved performance in pre-frontal cortex, which is associated with concentration and awareness.

Here is a video link to the 60 minutes special.
And book I would recommend that covers some basic beginner tips (make good use of that book budget) is Patience by Allan Lokos.

Meditation can be extremely tough at first, depending on the individual. Even just 5 minutes can be challenging. Try to work up to 15-20 minute sessions.

Around a year ago, I also began local yoga classes. We’re lucky to have free weekly yoga practice here at corporate.

Benefits:

  • Sleep Quality: The time it takes to fall asleep has drastically decreased. This was the big one for me. Our own Laurie Rennard recently hosted a lecture on sleep and I picked up some tips there. One seemed rather extreme, but I tried it and I’m very pleased with the results.  We can post a list of tips here, too.
  • Minimized anxiety and Depression:  If this is an issue for you, meditation is a helpful practice.  We are often quick to medication before giving this a shot.
  • Sexual Experience:  You could say sex is a time when the individuals involved are completely engrossed in the moment. With meditation practice, presence is much more easily attainable state. This takes the act of sex to an elevated level. I would like to study tantra sex in the future, and try taking sex to the highest levels.

So the besides listing more benefits, the important point I want to discuss is my progress.  I was in a yoga lesson at work yesterday, and the instructor made a simple statement that stuck with me.  “If it isn’t in this room right now, it is not your concern now.”  And the sky cleared for me.  Often times I flip between eyes open and eyes closed meditation.  My concern is that I don’t want to be distracted by external objects, which will cause the mind to wander.  Well, in today’s meditation session, I found I could reach presence almost instantly by only focusing on my and my immediate surroundings, particularly the objects in the room.

My next dilemma is to control thoughts that are triggered by objects in the room.  For example, I have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash directly in my line of sight where I sit.  I could easily think about the plot of the book, and find my imagination bringing me into the Metaverse, riding a motorcycle, delivering pizzas alongside the main character, Hiro Protagonist.  I have a few tricks I’ve used, such as telling my mind, out loud, to “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”.  Although that has worked wonders for me, I wanted to find a more elegant tactic.  That trick deserves an explanation, which I will cover in a future post.

My idea today was the realization today was to see everything in the room as a sold, black object.  In my head, I painted the entire room a flat, black color.  This may sound freaky, but it worked.  The book, my tables, bed, everything, covered in black paint.  This shifted my focus back to myself, unphased by my surroundings.  Maybe you could try a color lighter than black, if it makes you feel a little more at-ease.

There are plenty of other programs and resources out there, but I’m really, really cheap. And so I found home meditation highly valuable.

And while you’re at it, fix your diet!!  Try fresh foods from a local garden and make some lovely Kale Chips.
“You don’t need drugs. You need a GARDEN.” -Ron Finley

 

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