Categories
Deal With Stress

The Secret Diary of an Aspiring Meditation Master – December 2014, Week Four, “Meditation: Welcoming the Light”

mind1Well, we have made it to the end of 2014, and Kevin Schoeninger has given us a final meditation on Spiritual Growth Monthly, which we can save and use again and again as we begin another year. I downloaded the audio file a few days ago, not only because it is worth repeating, but partly because the first time I listened I was not in a very accepting frame of mind. I might have called this article, “resisting the light,” because even after years of sometimes getting it right, a lot of the time I still get things wrong.

Do you ever do that? Resist the thing that you know is best for you, even when it is something you really do enjoy? I imagine we all do, at least some of the time. Every day we face choices about what to eat, what to say, what to do. We decide how to behave, how to use our time, and how to treat other people and ourselves. We may follow good or bad habits, or blame our circumstances for how we feel, but every moment still contains choices. Even while our rational brain knows that healthy habits, like meditation or exercise, will make us so much happier in the long run, sometimes all we can hear is the voice of our ego shouting, “Here I am…choose me!”

The title of Kevin’s meditation, “Welcoming the Light” hints at this idea of choice, as well. To welcome something is a choice. We can, if we choose, “experience the light, love, and feeling of connection available on an energetic level,” which will then allow us to feel the deep inner peace we know we desire and need. That inner peace can be our source of confidence and strength, so we’ll be “inspired to fully realize ‘who we are’ and ‘what we are here to do.’”

In contrast, our egos often tell us that we must be successful, productive, and attractive, to be of any value, and that life is a continuous battle to grasp what we want.

Yet, who is more beautiful than the person whose face shines with inner light? Who is more successful than the person treating each task with love? And how much more productive are we when we are purposeful, serene, and in touch with our place in a universal whole?

Kevin’s meditation guides us into what he calls “the Universal Field of Energy, Love, and Light that gives life to us All.” If we are having a day caught in that other universal feeling of an ego driven battle, it’s still okay. Meditation is not a “mess up once and you’re done,” kind of experience. The next day may be easier. The next day may be great.

St. Paul wrote about the struggle between two parts of our nature, and asked why he often did the opposite of what he really wanted. And the Eastern masters would not have had as much advice to give if humanity had already had its act together. The point is, we’re not perfect. We just have to keep doing the best we can.

Happy New Year! You can start resolutions on any day you want.

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t plan to start now. Starting a good plan in January is fine, but if we only keep a good habit going for a while, and then slip up, we have a tendency to think the year is shot. I much prefer the advice of Dorie the fish in Disney’s Finding Nemo, who couldn’t remember anything from one moment to the next. ”Just keep swimming” works if you don’t know where you are going, or even if you do. If your last choice wasn’t a good one, just forget it and move on.

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, we might choose to make daily ones. Or pick Tuesdays, or take stock each night. Any moment we remember how much we share with all humanity is a good one. And the more often we choose to remember that, the easier it becomes. So, if you want to start a new resolution to meditate every day, that’s a worthy choice. Just attach a rider that says you won’t beat yourself up when your ego gets in the way. They call it practice for a reason. Just keep choosing your long term happiness over the kick of ego satisfaction. Remember, your ego is never satisfied for long.

Listening to Kevin’s meditation today was lovely. Next month he continues his exploration of the book A Unified Theory of Happiness, by Andrea F. Polard, PsyD. Dr. Polard. If you listen to Kevin’s meditation a few times yourself, you may choose to make it part of your long term happiness plan.

For now, my best wishes for happy swimming in 2015.

 

P.S. Want to be part of a community of like-minded souls committed to applying spiritual practice in their lives? Well take a look at Spiritual Growth Monthly. This is our members only community where we share insights, tips and group coaching to support your continued growth.

What’s do you get as a member of SGM?

You get a weekly audio message from me to encourage you and give you more insights into your practice. Membership gives you private email access to me should any questions come up for you. You also get access to our members discussion, plus much, much more.

Go here to get a 3-week trial for just $1.

www.spiritualgrowthmonthly.com.

Check out the weekly messages on Spiritual Growth Monthly today!

Categories
Deal With Stress

The Secret Diary of an Aspiring Meditation Master – December 2014, Week Three, “The Secret to Tranquility and Trust”

Peaceful place to relaxWhile I always enjoy Kevin Schoeninger’s articles on Spiritual Growth Monthly, this week his message seemed to be exactly what I needed, at a moment when my mental, physical and spiritual batteries all seemed tapped out. As if all we have to do during the holidays wasn’t enough, I had taken on some extra projects, and left myself feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, instead of the joyful caring person I would want to be this time of year.

“Tis the season to be jolly,” the carol says. So we further stretch our overly packed agendas with shopping, decorating, cooking, traveling and fighting winter storms. We want to be generous and happy, but deep down, we may realize that what we really need is a “silent night,” before we crash and burn.

Women in particular, I think, tend to view holidays as a time when we are expected to prove our domestic skills. Just last week I heard a friend complain that she couldn’t eat healthy right now because there was all that holiday baking “we have to do.” Luckily for me, I dropped baking from my agenda years ago, but I haven’t found time to put up a tree, or wrap any presents yet this year, and I am writing this on Christmas Eve.

If I could just get things under control, I tell myself, I could relax. I could survey my no longer chaotic surroundings with pride, and find tranquility in my soul. But the odds don’t look good. It just seems the more we do, the more there is to do. So, what I really want for Christmas is to stop having to be in control. I want a vacation from my responsibilities. I want to sleep until…sometime next year.

Happily, Kevin brought me a little vacation, which demonstrates exactly what his article this week is all about. Finding moments of tranquility amidst the to-do lists which have no end. I usually listen to the audio Kevin provides on SGM first, before taking more time with the written text. So I sat my frazzled self down, closed my eyes and the just allowed the message to get through. What Kevin reminded me was that tranquility does not happen after we have everything under control. It happens when we set it all down, and let go.

Kevin asks at one point if we sometimes feel a little guilty “having the thought of just stopping, doing nothing, and letting go of figuring it all out?” I certainly do. And I fall into the trap of doing some mindless activity to try and relax, instead of doing the one thing I already know would really make me feel better…taking time to be still.

All spiritual traditions teach the value of stillness. “Be still and know” applies everywhere. Without the stillness, we cannot hear the songs of the universe. We can’t hear the silence because of the noise going on in our brains. And the more we focus on thinking, the less we can simply feel.

When it comes down to it, tranquility is a feeling. Just like joy, good will, and love. And like other feelings, it cannot be trapped and hung on to. It has to be experienced freely, and allowed its own ebb and flow. But like a loving relationship, tranquility can be nurtured. Kevin uses a lovely image of nurturing a tree, which when grown provides shade and comfort. Trees don’t grow up over night. They can’t be forced by pulling them up from the top. They require patience, care and feeding, and then they grow without any other help from us. The same can be said for the tranquil soul.

We don’t have to wait until our to-do list is finished. We don’t have to hold off until our retirement when we think we’ll have the time. We can practice little bits of tranquility anywhere, and at any time. We just have to make it a priority.

I once read a comment from Hugh Jackman when asked how he finds time to meditate. He said something to the effect that you’d never say you can’t find time to brush your teeth. You just do it. Every day. Even if it is not some kind of formal meditation, all of us can find time to cherish something beautiful we see, a take a moment to simply give thanks. And we can stop, breathe, and just be still.

To look deeper at the happiness that comes from tranquility, this month Kevin has been exploring the book A Unified Theory of Happiness, by Andrea F. Polard, PsyD. Dr. Polard describes tranquility as coming from a different type of awareness. By opening up our awareness beyond ourselves, and our own thoughts, and trusting in a unifying force behind the universe, she says, we can attain tranquil moments which she calls a “Supreme Mode of Happiness.” From that happiness, we become recharged, renewed and ready to face the world once more.

In our busy world, we all like to have plans and take action. So Kevin gives us three steps to help us become more trusting and learn to nurture more tranquility in our lives. We may think of stillness as a sort of passive state, but we may need to take real action to clean out the clutter of our houses and our minds, before we can truly relax and be still.

Kevin’s article contains far more than I have touched on here, and it will certainly be worth re-reading long after the holidays are done. Perhaps we can give ourselves a tiny gift of tranquility now, which will grow and allow us to be more joyful throughout the months ahead.

 

P.S. Want to be part of a community of like-minded souls committed to applying spiritual practice in their lives? Well take a look at Spiritual Growth Monthly. This is our members only community where we share insights, tips and group coaching to support your continued growth.

What’s do you get as a member of SGM?

You get a weekly audio message from me to encourage you and give you more insights into your practice. Membership gives you private email access to me should any questions come up for you. You also get access to our members discussion, plus much, much more.

Go here to get a 3-week trial for just $1.

www.spiritualgrowthmonthly.com.

Check out the weekly messages on Spiritual Growth Monthly today!