I promise on all that is holy to refrain from using an over abundance of words that begin with M for this post. Speaking of promising on things which are holy, let us pray,
or meditate, or whatever it is you do when you use various techniques to communicate with some higher being, or yourself, or… nothing at all.
Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity is an excellent piece of work if you’ve ever taken any interest in the art of meditation. If you’re like me, (and you are more like me than you might expect), you have been living and learning in a primarily Christian society. If you’re much like me, you were raised in a Christian church. (I was raised in a Church of Christ in a rural Alabama town- everyone collectively says YIKES). If you’re just like me, you ran away screaming and locked on to science instead. “En…gage!” If you’re my bff, you grew curious beyond the science and started branching out, looking for answers in energy healing, and stumbled upon the yoga mat. If you’re my blood brother, you eventually found Buddhism. Finally, if you’re my twin soul*, you discovered the overlapping truths that apply to all of the above, and found comfort and peace in the fibers that bind all of these things together, weaving a soft, carefully hand stitched blanket that envelopes you in total security, peace and comfort. Kinda like the forever lost baby blanket you carried with you and slept with every night for eighteen years. *Hey. Good luck with that.
Welcome to MEDITATION. Mind in the Balance is a great place to start if you find yourself totally oblivious to what the last paragraph is feebly attempting to transmit to you. In a nutshell, there are solid truths that expand across both worlds of spirituality and science, and both Christianity and Buddhism. Meditation is a beautiful flower- a lotus, even!- that brings all of these truths to center.
Speaking of center, have you found yours yet? Kinda hard with all the ever present bullshit happening in our day to day lives. But fear not (say! another cohesive truth!), we’re in this together. And I want to assure you that meditation is something that seems easy, but, as it turns out, is incredibly complicated. Why? Because we are incredibly complicated. Science is incredibly complicated. Christianity is incredibly complicated. Buddhism is incredibly complicated. Sitting still and being quiet and trying to focus on nothing is much more challenging than you might think. Wait- stop thinking!
I may have touched on this subject a couple of times, but never reached as far as I think I can. Maybe it’s because thinking is something that we just do. We don’t really make ourselves aware of every single thought that crosses our minds. Stimuli here, there, everywhere. (Poorly) processing speech and sound without ceasing. I have mentioned tinnitus. Try meditating with a high pitched ringing in your ears. I think I… canNOT, ugh, fuck this!
People use the words balance and center and core repetitively (mantras) all the time when discussing meditation or various yoga practices. This is a concept I have actively worked towards almost my entire adult life! It is still a work in progress, and may take my entire lifetime to achieve. Did I mention I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age fifteen?
People who are bipolar are not centered. In fact, this is the most fundamental criteria for acquiring a diagnosis. When you are bipolar AND have chronic tinnitus, guess what? The meditation trend isn’t one you really care to follow. In fact, meditation, in theory, was not at all mystical or foreign to me, as it had already been incessantly preached to me throughout my childhood. It was just prayer, something I already felt like I knew enough about. This is the part when I describe how I was an incorrect dumb idiot. (See Miracles for an earlier post detailing my later realized affirmation in the power of prayer.)
Through my yoga practice, I began researching more and more about what meditation really means. There are different styles of meditation. I won’t get into all of this here, but you are welcome to do your own research if this topic seems interesting or beneficial to you. (It was for me.) It took me a while, maybe two years, to sit down and actually create time and space for my mind to create more time and space inside my mind.
I began practicing yoga at twenty-five, and was becoming more serious in my practice, and even began teaching a weekly class to the mental health providers I was working with at the time. I was keeping a notebook of the sequences I had personally tried and was sharing with the class. I was even keeping notes about the providers’ specific goals and which areas they needed to target that week. I charged five entire bucks for this class and made enough side dough to buy myself some movie or concert tickets for that weekend. And that was my personal perk for only one hour of my time.
Another personal perk occurred later, thanks to my teaching. I had become serious enough about my own yoga journey, and was helping introduce others to their own. I was getting great physically, but that balance of the mind thing was still a great challenge for me. My mind had to change. This is when I took a hard left into the ancient teachings of Buddhism.
I had/have several friends who were/are casually into the ideology of Buddhism. None of my friends at this point were seriously religious or actively practicing the rules written by any deity. Most of us just worked and played, and repeated the cycle. We were mostly in our mid-twenties, and completely not serious in our spiritual journeys. I’ve mentioned that I’ve seen the Dalai Lama speak before, but did I mention Christopher Hitchens? Imagine that debate.
I was just curious about anything not associated with a Church of Christ, really. But fleeing the COC is what led to my studies in science, which led to my studies in healing, which led to my studies in yoga, which led to my studies in Buddhism, which led to my studies in, okay, shit- I surrender… Meditation.
What I did not expect to discover through my scientific studies is my faith coming full circle. I can confidently attest that I do hold strong faith in creation, in the cosmos, in realizing the cosmos is inside and all around me. Meditation is what unlocked it.
I remember this like it just happened, which is a testament to just how present I was in these moments. I placed my thin, black yoga mat on my hardwood floor. I sat my skinny behind down Indian style on my mat. It was still daylight and there was plenty of light inside of my living room, but I made a point to turn everything off. I was not absorbed with any stimuli surrounding me. I was just there, sitting.
After several minutes of eliminating intrusive thoughts, and a few moments of simply focusing on my breath, just as I’d practiced for a long time, I began to let my belly go. My eyes were closed. My breath was slow. All of my limbs were limp. I felt my head begin to almost float upward. I was finally feeling weightless. My thoughts were hushed, then distant, then removed. There was no self talk. I then saw (maybe it was me visualizing but it appeared to be real, tangible imagery) the cosmos. I can no longer describe the image in great detail, but I remember there were galaxies spiraling before me. I was floating in space. Everything was silent. I do not recall noticing the ringing in my ears, coming from my poor brain. But in that single moment that probably lasted maybe fifteen seconds, my brain was a lotus flower in full bloom.
And that is meditation, for me. And that was the first time I have ever meditated. I simply haven’t actively practiced it since. There is no real reason why, that I am aware of, but I have only meditated a couple of times since, which seemed to be enough in bringing me back to center for a while.
But the first time I meditated, I truly felt peace. Everything felt harmonious. Everything felt connected. For that brief moment, my central nervous system held the hand of the central solar system. And for me, that was enough to spark my faith in creation again. For me, that was all I needed.
There is a lot going on these days. Maybe I feel worn out. Maybe I feel I’ve stretched too far. Whatever it is that keeps me from finding time to meditate, I’ll kick its ass eventually. And I hope you do, too. You never know what the universe is trying to tell you, until you make time to connect to it.