MEDITATION- are you addicted yet? - Jacqueline Kareh
Bearing in mind that there’s a growing trend for GPs to suggest to their patients that they try Mindfulness, an overstressed workaholic friend of mine queried me recently about meditation.
Henry asked how something that looks so totally boring and uneventful could actually develop into what looks in some respects, he said, like an addiction. Was it in reality an excuse to have a little kip after too many late nights, or was there something he just was not getting? He was genuinely curious and puzzled. I laughed at Henry’s observation, understanding what he meant – I had only to think of myself: if I go a few days without my meditation ‘fix’ I become ratty and irritable, stressed and increasingly ineffective (especially when it comes to doing my admin). It doesn’t take long before there comes a point when I feel so exasperated with myself that I have to ‘stop and take time out’.
Withdrawing for even a short period of Quiet Time helps me to ‘re-group’, returning me to a state of calm and balance so that I can do what I need to do in a more focused and relaxed way. Having reconnected with my centre (which is what meditation is) I feel a clear sense of relief. It’s a much more comfortable space to think, act, and relate from.
Although I’m sure many ‘Connections’ readers have their own form of meditation practice, I thought it might be interesting to write something about it for anyone who may be looking for a new, or additional way to de-stress. Obviously this is just my take on it (I’d welcome any comments and feedback from anyone who feels they’d like to get in touch). So, back to my friend….
People like Henry who live life in the fast lane usually need some time to release their addiction to the adrenaline rush and replace it with the Feel-Good factors of living more or less from a point of joyous connectedness to the many aspects of LIFE. Meditation/ Mindfulness on a regular basis increasingly brings more love and ‘flow’ into our lives. We become more sensitive – in a positive way – so that we can interact more easily with others in a way that enhances relationships. It can effortlessly inspire cooperation rather than back-stabbing competition.
What many people do not realise is that there are active and still meditations. The Dynamic was the first active meditation I ever came across and it opened up a whole new way of clearing mental clutter for me. With loud dynamic music I was lead with a group of others through various stages of special breathing techniques, a mad self-expression phase to safely let go of the build up of tensions, frustration and other repressed emotions, then a challenging jumping and grounding phase followed by a contrastingly still period. By the time I got to the final stage of gentle, eyes-closed dancing I felt emotionally cleansed, really present in the moment, well centred in my body, free-ed up and joyfully alive! Plus, I’d had a more satisfying physical work-out than hours in the gym!
It was explained to us that the Indian spiritual teacher, Osho, developed The Dynamic and other active meditations because many Westerners find it difficult (with our pressure-to-perform lifestyle) to switch off their busy minds and settle into the stillness of a quiet meditation. Well, it certainly worked for me, and although it is generally advised to stick to one type of meditation practice on a regular basis, I personally am glad to have a repertoire of different meditations to use according to my situation and the emotional/psychological pressures around me. Anyone who meditates regularly develops a stronger inner stability, and more open-heartedness. That’s because we clear the stresses of daily life rather than letting them build up and put us into a bad mood.
Random Acts of Kindness
Also when we go into quiet reflection we can open the inner doors of integrity and check ourselves out. As I review the events of my day my mind may be drawn to remember something I said or didn’t say, or a fleeting expression on someone’s face. I may realise an opportunity to do something better or an apology I could make or perhaps there is a little random act of kindness that pops to mind. I acknowledge myself and others for my and their gifts that we have shared. I feel into the abundance of beauty, security and love that I have in my life. I practice feeling myself in an expanded state of Being and I enjoy the space of connectedness to my body and soul, to the Universe and the Oneness of all life –Nature, our planet, fellow humans. It may not be possible to hold that level of awareness as I go through my day, but by periodically dipping into that connection to Source, I carry a sense of joy with me that gives me a totally different perspective on Life compared to when I don’t meditate. Life still throws challenges at me in the same way as ever but my meditation practice helps me to deal better with them, take charge of my feelings and turn them round.
So why would I not want to meditate when it feels so good and supports me in developing the qualities that I want to ’grow’? I am not perfect (except in my imperfection, of course) and the inner saboteur does get me regularly and tries to lure me away from my daily Quiet Time. However, I have over many years got used to the feeling of deep nourishment that comes from connecting with Source, so much so that if I wander off course it’s not long before I feel a clear craving to reconnect once again. My addiction!
I’d like to add that for some people their meditation comes through total immersion and presence when they do their art, gardening, fishing, walking etc. Ultimately, the goal of the spiritual path is to reach a point where we are in a constant state of connection; knowing ourselves as Source, our very practical, daily lives can be infused with a quality of Universal Love. It doesn’t have to be all goody-goody, holier-than-thou, however it can’t help but influence all our thoughts, words, actions and feelings as we live from this point of authenticity. It is, admittedly, a high ideal but the Feel-Good factor makes it worth striving for, the deep wisdom as well as love and appreciation for all of Life including ourselves (in a non-ego way) really are life-changing. Anything that shifts us from destructive self – judgement to constructive self –valuing is, to my mind, worth developing.
As a Holistic Health Practitioner and therapist, giving support and help –especially in times of crisis - is vital but it’s not the whole picture. Teaching people tools for self-care and self-empowerment is just as important, and meditation is clearly a possible option. In fact, I would say connecting with the deep central CORE of your Being is essential as a route to health and fulfilment, keeping ourselves energetically clear and balanced as we inevitably are affected by our relationships and work.
I admit it, I am addicted.
Copyright Jacqueline Kareh 2013
Jacqueline Kareh, health detective and holistic health practitioner, runs meditation classes and mini-retreats in Exeter. She also incorporates aspects of meditation in her SCIO groups for individual and planetary healing. For details please see www.exetermindandbody.com or contact her on Mobile: 0785 000 8133
This article on meditation first appeared in SouthWest Connections magazine in the August-July 2013 edition no: 96