What do you think of when you hear the word meditation? It has all sorts of associations for me: Qigon, Tai Chi, various sitting meditations, relaxation tapes and guided imagery, Herbert Benson’s relaxation response, Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, Heart Math’s Freeze-Frame, Mark Thornton’s Meditation in a New York Minute and many others. There are a wealth of possibilities, and people meditate for various reasons — from trying to achieve spiritual enlightenment to being more effective and aware in their everyday lives.

I started meditating when I was in high school and read about Emerson and the transcendentalists in New England. In one form or another it’s been an important part of my life ever since. My two main techniques now are (1) remembering to get calm, centered, creative and constructive when I have to deal with challenges that arise in my life and (2) playing with Photoshop.

When I got my first PC years ago I started playing Free Cell solitaire and noticed what a calming, centering effect the game had on me. I moved the cards intuitively rather than trying to reason things out and it did quiet my mind and relax my body. It just goes to show, we have to find out what works for us.

When I changed to the Mac I gave up the game because the colors weren’t right — apparently the bright colors had been an important part of the experience. So instead I started playing with Photoshop — I can spend hours playing with shapes and colors, experimenting with different techniques and seeing what happens, getting immersed in the experience. Again, not your conventional meditation but it works for me.

Have you ever meditated? If so what forms have you tried? What effect did they have on you?

Thanks to Mike, Evan, tammy, Cathy, Dixie, bikehikebabe and Rummuser for commenting on last week’s post.
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22 Responses to Meditation

  1. Cathy in NZ says:

    Before I get to the topic…I have been getting two emails to different address – so I have unsubscribed from hopefully the “ihug” one only.

    I don’t particularly meditate, nothing that would classed exactly that as it. But rather I stop and think – maybe mindless looking at nothing.

    If I don’t have to rush out of bed quickly, I might spend upto an hour lying there, just thinking about the day; nothing or other…
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Changing Seasons, Changing Pathways

  2. Evan says:

    Imageless meditation I just found impossible.

    Qi gong works well for me. And in some ways journalling – if a kind of contemplative examination of experience counts as meditation.
    Evan´s last blog post ..Attitude #2 – changing your attitude part C the future

  3. bikehikebabe says:

    Starting from the top (of this post) I took Qigon & Tai Chi from a Chinese woman
    at Jean’s church. As for meditating, I can’t. My mind is restless. I’ve tried
    imagining an orange, a dead fish floating on Rock Lake in WV, field of grain
    blowing in wind I saw on bike in Sweden etc. etc. Nothing works. If it works for
    you here is a good link:

  4. Jean says:

    I’ve added the captcha because of the warning at tammy’s site. Apparently sites like this one are being attacked by hackers, so I’m heeding the warning. Thank you, tammy!

    Good for you! I once wrote a post entitled “Are You Spending Enough Time Doing Nothing?” and I used these quotes:

    So you see, imagination needs moodling — long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
    –Brenda Ueland

    All of man’s troubles come from his inability to sit alone, quietly, in a room, for any length of time.
    –Blaise Paschal

    To be idle requires a strong sense of personal identity.
    –Robert Louis Stevenson

    Find your creative/thinking time. Defend it ruthlessly, spend it alone….
    —Randy Pausch

    I’ve tried some Qigong too. And I’m a great believer in journaling. Whenever I go through a major life change I spend hours doing it. For me it’s like rototilling the soil before planting new seeds.

    Have you ever tried paying attention to the process of cleaning the house, or to your body when you’re exercising? There are a gazillion ways to meditate, depending on the individual and the reason she’s doing it. We can talk about this more offline if you’re interested. And it’s fine if you’re not. 🙂

  5. Evan says:

    “It’s never too late to do nothing at all”. – Allen Ginsberg

  6. Cathy in NZ says:

    yep, Evan…like

    also Jean…
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Changing Seasons, Changing Pathways

  7. Jean says:

    Thanks! 😀

    I agree! Sometimes we need a lot of encouragement not to get sucked into our society’s overemphasis on being busy. Another quote is Thoreau’s,

    It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?

  8. Cathy in NZ says:

    One of the goals that seem to be a big part of life is the To Do List…

    I actually have a very short list…sometimes, I remember something that needs to be added; or I find some interesting outside of my list.

    Usually I just note things in my diary – today it said:

    home, banking (not mine but something I do), Library, Peggy []s, flax finishing, baking. Tick everything but the last two things. Why not flax finishing because I found something else exciting to do in craft line 🙂 and the baking, was for tomorrow but now I can’t be bothered.

    Probably run down to the local bakery tomorrow morning and grab something suitable for HWG luncheon…

    tomorrow says: HWG day, take squares (peggy above), Pams’ gloves, Uni.

    It’s actually not a whole day at weavers (HWG), the squares are for the TnT group at night (not sure I will turn up though), I put Pams’ gloves in my bag, and I’ve sorted out what I need for Uni tomorrow afternoon…

    Of course, if I wanted to there are oddles of other things I could get on with including household chores…tonight at some point I will spend time with reading (in bed, before I sleep)
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Changing Seasons, Changing Pathways

  9. Jean says:

    Wow! Your list is a lot longer than mine. You’re clearly not bored!

  10. tammy j says:

    this is a wonderful post monk.
    i meditate every day. i begin by simply sitting quietly and observing my breath. no counting or rigid structure rules to it.
    then i smile.
    i learned that by reading ‘eat pray love.’ can’t say i truly “loved” the book like so many others … but you glean something from everything you read usually. and from her…
    i learned from a little balinese monk and wise man ~ this ~
    he told her to simply sit quietly and smile. and he said you have to even smile in your liver! LOL. how beautiful is that?

  11. Jean says:

    That’s a great idea. 🙂

    It reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mindful Movements. I haven’t watched this YouTube version, but on the VHS tape I have he says we have to smile while we do it. He’s also written that we can’t help anyone else if we’re not happy ourselves.

    I haven’t used my tapes much, but I do practice the smiling. 😀

    The trick is to remember throughout the day. I practice mostly when I have technical problems with the computer.

  12. Rummuser says:

    The cartoon reminds me of this: “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” -Pablo Picasso. Carry it to its logical conclusion and meditation too is the elimination of the unnecessary.

    I meditate for an hour every morning. I use the Vipassana technique.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Change Your Mood.

  13. Jean says:

    Some of my favorite art quotes are

    God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.”
    —Pablo Picasso

    Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
    —Scott Adam

    It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look …. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.
    —Henry David Thoreau

  14. tammy j says:

    the last three quotes you replied to rummy’s comment here have calmed my heart. had to come back and visit again.
    i’m silent today on the peanut. but your comment and link there resonated.
    dearest monk. we have hardly a right to grieve i’d say.
    and i need to meditate! xo

  15. Jean says:

    Thank you.

  16. Dixie says:

    My meditation principle is based on “The Tao of Pooh,” authored by Benjamin Hoff… as simple as that. I have the uncanny ability to feel ‘holes’ in the universe, and I don’t really know how to explain that to you. I do know that love heals them; it becomes my concentration.

    With painting and most art, I prefer an edge of abandonment. Some of the most fun work has been executed in charcoal. I call it work, though I see it as a moment in communication.

    Very interesting, Jean!

  17. bikehikebabe says:

    Have you ever tried paying attention to the process of cleaning the house, or to your body when you’re exercising? There are a gazillion ways to meditate…”

    ALWAYS I have to think of my body when exercising—Keep feet together & left hip OUT, chest up, heel down 1st, lift feet (to avoid stumbling over rocks), lift arms up keeping shoulders down (right arm is the problem), go as fast as you can, stay away from the “hiker’s drop-off” (my term) where the trail meets the 600 foot cliff at my side.

    Long time ago I went to meet at the Lab with a weight lifting woman, important enough to be asked to speak at LANL (Los Alamos National Laboratory) about weight lifting for women. Only about 3 women showed up for this after-lecture meeting. Point is, she said to think of the body part when lifting a weight for that body part. That’s a sort of meditation.

  18. bikehikebabe says:

    I hope somebody opened this Meditation link & waited a few seconds for the pictures to start forming– (for each of the rooms)

  19. bikehikebabe says:

    Mistake- “hiker’s drop-off”. I meant hikers drop-off. Not a place where hikers drop something off. Where hikers drop off into the canyon below. Hasn’t happened yet though.

  20. Jean says:

    I haven’t read the Tao of Pooh, but I had to give a talk about Lao-tse when I was a senior in high school. It made a huge impression on me — it solved my problem of what my life was all about. I’m still grateful.

    About paying attention to how you use your body — yes, if you do the breathing right it is a form of meditation. So you probably meditate a lot.

    I understood what “hiker’s drop-off” is. When I read the term I caught my breath as I pictured it. 😀

  21. bikehikebabe says:

    “…if you do the breathing right it is a form of meditation.”

    So I can add THIS to my list of my walking instructions. 😀

  22. Jean says:

    Right on! 🙂

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