I’m so grateful. On my journey to becoming the latest version of me, I learned to meditate using the first of the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenges and have participated in each one since. Their first was in March 2013. The latest series is starting on Monday, October 30, 2017, “Making Every Moment Matter.” It’s a meditative primer on time management. Who couldn’t use a better way to cope with the myriad of daily requirements that pull our souls in multiple directions simultaneously.
A reminder to pause and breathe deeply — hmm, I feel better already. I consider learning to meditate to be one of the most important changes in my life that has led me to live in a way reflective of what I am here on Earth to do. What is that, you might ask?
I believe meditation, a lifetime of learning, combined with many books and classes from spiritual teachers like Jean Houston, Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Michael Singer (the list is extensive) — led me to my life’s purpose. I had been using the meditations for over a year and had taken my first class with Jean Houston on “Finding Your Life’s Purpose” when we went on a family vacation in Israel, July 2014. Not only did we tour incredible, historic and sacred sights — we found ourselves in the middle of war. Hiding in bomb shelters and missiles targeting my son, was not the kind of Bar Mitzvah present I had intended. I joke that I don’t know how many years of therapy it will take to get rid of the Jewish guilt…
Ultimately, the impact of this experience made me want to work on Peace, both in the world and within myself. I’m currently completing my book about our adventure and its personal effect on me of profound transformation which should be out next year. The working title is “Blasted from Complacency,” and I hope you will join me on that journey…
Because of the importance that I place on my meditation practice, receiving an announcement of a new Oprah & Deepak Meditation series for me is like getting a very special present. I wonder what I will learn and where this will lead me this time. I know, this sounds like a corny advertisement — Oprah and Deepak don’t need my help to get the word out : ) We’re on a first name basis not because I know them personally, but because they have become an intimate part of my life and they don’t even know me! I wonder how many millions feel the same way.
Meditation has changed my life and I know if you try it, it will help you too. That’s why I want to encourage you to explore how it might alter your understanding of reality. I know over four years ago when I first began and I heard Deepak say that “we are not our thoughts and emotions, we are the observer of them” — I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Deepak’s philosophy that we are whole and that meditation helps to reveal the real You to ourselves, is another Eastern-based belief system. But after four years now and time to reflect, I not only get it, I live by a totally different life philosophy. I will always be eternally grateful.
Their 21-Day Challenge series is free and you can listen to each day, 5 times if you like. That’s how long they have the particular day posted and accessible at no cost. Every day you get the next meditation delivered in your email. How simple is that? At the end, they always give one extra day — Day 22 as a bonus. It of course, is more than just another day. It’s always given with the intention for a better world. Just what I would expect from these two intelligent and giving people. O.K. don’t gag, I can’t help myself.
I am so thankful for what they have taught me over the years. At the end of the series, surprise, you have the option to purchase, and I always do. Frankly, the practices have been so consistently beneficial, I don’t wait until the end to purchase the extended versions which last a full thirty minutes, rather than the original twenty. I find it takes me a bit longer to get into that Peaceful zone. How about you?
I know I’ll get more than my money’s worth so I buy it before I know exactly every nuance of what I’ll get — another set of surprises to enjoy I believe awaits me. If their marketing team ever read this I’m sure they would kvell (feel happy and proud) in victory, for the rest of you, stop shaking your head, I’m being honest — I love these meditations.
I know you are wondering how can you squeeze in another 15 minutes into your day, and Penny goes for 30? Well, try it and you too probably will get hooked. Besides this new meditation series is all about time management so it will probably help you find out how to do it by listening.
The attraction is not just the instruction to slowly breathe deep, which creates a wonderful peacefulness. In fact, it’s reaching who you truly are. Penny, meet Penny. Learning that I’m not my thoughts, I’m the observer of my thoughts. Wow, who knew? These concepts are not ones that I easily understood. They were new to me and over time I’ve grown to accept them as true and profound. Just as important, are the life lessons that Oprah and Deepak impart at the beginning of each meditation. That portion is just a few minutes where they each teach something about the message of the meditation for the day.
For instance, on the first day of Become What You Believe, one of my favorite of their various series, Deepak talks about how Your beliefs filter your experiences. It colors how you feel about everything. Then he follows that up with the key to the whole lesson, I’ll see it, when I believe it. Wow, that’s so true and so Deepak : ) His voice is also very soothing and the calming and pleasant music played while meditating also relaxes me.
I believe these meditations can have a profound impact on your life but, nothing is for everyone and that is the way it should be. I’m a definite proponent of choice. To be able to get into meditation, you will have to learn how to quiet that monkey mind of yours. That’s the expression used for all of those thoughts that come barreling into our minds once you have a moment of silence. That’s where the mantras, help. If you start thinking about something or have body sensations, let them go and return to the mantra, as Deepak instructs us.
Meditation, just like everything else, needs to be put into your calendar or it won’t happen. You also need to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Nothing makes me crankier than when I’m interrupted while meditating — just ask my family…
Where and how I meditate might make you laugh, the irony of it cracks me up, too. Let me explain. My favorite places to meditate are in nature, adjacent. What I mean is, Number one, I love to be in nature. I am blessed to live in an area surrounded by trees and hills. In fact, I took the background picture for my website while on the way to meditate. I wanted to be surrounded on my website by places that I love : ) I say adjacent because I love to be in nature, but I want to be comfortable. I drive to one of my favorite natural settings, park as far away from other cars when possible, put my sunglasses on, and sit in my car and look out at the trees and hills. Then, I meditate.
Would you feel relaxed in this position? I’m just not comfortable in the traditional, cross-legged pose. My spine and lower back always hurt in that position, and I hear my mother figuratively yelling at me to sit up straight, in my mind’s eye. So I don’t do it that way. That’s ok, do what works for you.
I enjoy sitting in my car to meditate. I seek out nature because it makes me feel, well, natural. We are all part of nature, the Universe, whatever you want to call this existence on the planet. I want to be near trees, plants and the birdies hopping from branch to branch. It not only helps me feel peaceful, but part of the Whole. Now at first glance, this seems appropriate — deep breathing, refreshing — it’s a let’s get back to nature kind of thing. The reason why this amuses me is because when you meditate, your eyes are closed! I go through all of this effort to drive somewhere and then close my eyes! Meshuganah! My grandmother would have said (A Yiddish word for a crazy person).
Now I may joke about closing my eyes, but that’s something that I actually had to get used to. At first, it bothered me to look at the insides of my eyelids for what seemed like a long period of time. Now, it’s something that I look forward to — it’s tranquil. When I meditate, I frequently get to a place where the insides of my eyelids seems like a movie screen. Usually what happens is I see what looks like an opening to a tunnel. Inside the circular opening, is the most beautiful color of sky blue. Now that doesn’t mean your experience will be the same — different people have different experiences. Since I’m only four years into meditation, I’d love to know what it’s like for some of you long time meditators. I’ve heard of people seeing things, even like a play before their eyes. Perhaps this is something for me to look forward to in the future. But for now, the peace and calm is good enough for me.
I enjoy learning the Sanskrit mantras that they use. Not only do I get to learn a new language and philosophy, but these words are so foreign to me, literally, that I think it’s easier to slow down my mind and drift into the meditation. I’m sure that’s probably their intention. Namaste, is the salutation used at the end of each meditation. It is a recognition and homage of respect from one person’s deep, inner soul to that of the other person’s soul. How beautifully mysterious and reverential. What a much kinder world it would be if we all practiced this as we interacted with each other from conversation to conversation.
Meditation has become pervasive throughout society, no longer just the milieu of monks and gurus. The benefits of meditation are well-documented by scientists and doctors. The improvements include:
- Stress reduction
- Reduced blood pressure
- Anxiety reduction
- Reduced pain response
- Improved Cognitive function
- Improved cellular health1
Now obviously, there are many different ways to learn meditation. In fact, there are different ways to meditate too. My advice, find what works for you. Just taking some time for yourself, a few minutes a day — well, call it what you like, but that’s just what the doctors’ order to stay healthy.
What’s your favorite meditation? How long have you been meditating for? How has it affected your life? If you are new to meditating, what are you experiencing? I’d love for you to tell me below in the comments. Namaste.
As always, I invite you to Join Me On My Journey…
1 Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To Your Body, by Meredith Melnick, Huffington Post, 5/2/2013 5:00 pm EDT