Meditation Opened My Heart and Mind

I’m so grateful.  On my journey to becoming the latest version of me, I learned to meditate using the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenges.  Their first was in March 2013.  The latest one, Become What You Believe, is just ending.   You still can sample it for a few days for free : ) They release meditation series periodically. It’s like getting a very special present for myself, when they announce a new one.  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.  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.  Why?  Because I love what meditation brings to my life.

The attraction is not just the instruction to breathe deep and slowly which causes 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 this latest challenge, 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 actually purchase the extended versions of the meditations because for me, 15 minutes isn’t enough. The long version is 30 minutes.  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.  I say probably, because 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 more cranky than when I’m interrupted while meditating – just ask my husband : (  The, honk, honk, honk of his ring on my iPhone – well, I always need to be sure to put it on vibrate.

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.

ID-100213063Would 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 fairly new at this – only about three years, 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.

Meditation Health Benefits:  What The Practice Does To Your Body, by Meredith Melnick, Huffington Post, 5/2/2013 5:00 pm EDT