It was 52 years ago that I did my first Meditation. At the time, I had no idea that there were other Meditation types. Fast forward to nine years ago when I learned a different style of Meditation. It was this type of Meditation that would change my life forever. Nine years ago, I sat with an ordained Tibetan Buddhist Monk named Thupten Phuntsok. He taught me a very different form of Meditation from what I had previously learned and practiced. The style of Meditation I had learned all those years ago was what I would call “Yogic Style”. It included visualization, breathing exercises (Pranayama), and candle gazing. All were incredibly good at calming and focusing the mind. However, I never experienced the changes in my life that I have experienced via the Meditation techniques that I learned nine years ago.
The meditation technique that I learned nine years ago is a combination of traditional Tibetan Buddhist, Vipassana and Mindfulness techniques. The essential element of this style of Meditation, that sets this apart from what I previous learned, is “setting a motivation”. At the beginning of each Meditation, I would bring my thoughts to a change that I was seeking in my life. The “motivation”, also called an “intention”, is something that we feel we need to address in our lives. My initial motivation, nine years ago, was to remove anxiety and stress. This is a very common motivation and I believe that at least 90% of people coming to meditation seek to remove stress and/or anxiety from their lives (or at least reduce them).
What is The Source of Our Stress and Anxiety?
The interesting thing is that even though most of us seek to at least reduce stress and anxiety, most of us do not know what the “real” cause of the anxiety/stress is. Sure, we can accept certain givens. If you live in a large city, you’re bombarded with stressful things including rushing during the busiest times of the day to get to work and then home. You encounter thousands of people rushing to get somewhere. We encounter stress from all the things we need to do and the thought that there isn’t enough time to do it, so we place pressures on ourselves to get everything done. Of course, there are many other causes of stress.
Still, there are elements in our lives that can take a normal level of stress and then turn these into anxiety, fear, anger, depression, and other negative thoughts and feelings. By meditating, we can go deep within our minds and identify the source of these thoughts and feelings. We can connect with difficult experiences from our past. We can connect with fears that we have. By connecting with these things, and utilizing Meditation, we can release these things and live much happier and more fulfilling lives.
Within the first few months of learning this new style of meditation, I started to question where my anxiety and stress was coming from. I had begun to read books on Meditation and Buddhism. Within my readings, especially via Pema Chodron’s books, I reconnected with what therapists had help me understand years ago. The source of my anxiety stemmed from childhood experiences. So I reconnected with these thoughts and feelings and decided that it was time to change my motivation. I knew that I was holding anger, hurt, and emotional pain inside of me. And I had understood from my readings that these negative emotions served no positive purpose in me and that I must release them. In order to do this, I turned to a Forgiveness Meditation.
Forgiveness Meditation Released My Emotional Pain
Forgiveness became my new motivation and each day, I meditated on Forgiveness. I brought my thoughts to forgiving those who had hurt me, forgiving myself, and finally asking for forgiveness. Each day that I practiced this, I felt “lighter”. I felt like a burden was being removed from me. And then, one day, almost 4 months after I started this process, I felt a release. I felt that my heart had opened and released the pain I had carried for so long. I was so surprised by this experience and asked my teacher if it was possible to achieve your motivation in such short time. He said it was, but it was very rare.
When I first started to meditate in this newly found style, there were many times that I felt that doing it was a bit of a burden. It required me to really force myself to go and meditate. However, the more I meditated, the more I wanted to do it. Eventually, I got to a point where I didn’t see Meditation as an obligation. I saw it as an integral part of my life. I sincerely believe that I realized so many benefits from Meditation that I didn’t need to think about doing it, I just went and did it. It has now been part of my daily routine for nine years.
So What Do I Love About Meditation?
- It has helped me to address long-term unresolved issues.
- Meditation allows me to bring my body and mind into a state on stillness, calm, and peacefulness.
- In difficult moments, I am reminded that I can return to the breath and not feel overwhelmed by the moment.
- Meditation has allowed me to stay away from highs and lows and remain within a very neutral state (clarification: this doesn’t mean I don’t get very happy and sad sometimes. It means I don’t constantly go through highs and lows in my emotional makeup.).
- I have learned how to look at things differently. I tend to see things in a more positive light than gravitating towards the negative.
- My daily routine includes Meditation. It is something I look forward to each day.
- Meditation has made me, and continues to make me, a happy person.
How Do You Start to Meditate?
Seek out a few facilities that teach Meditation. Find out what style of Meditation they teach (there are different Meditation techniques). Try an Intro to Meditation class in the different techniques. Assess which one(s) you like and explore further. It is always possible that you will like one style of Meditation, but not connect with the teacher and/or facility where the class is taught. And before rushing to judgement, if you experience anything positive in a class, return to that class to experience the class again and then decide. Many first-time meditators judge Meditation solely on their initial experience. This is not the best way to judge Meditation as it’s always possible that the teacher, style of Meditation, or facility was not conducive for a good experience.
The Compassion Center offers individual private Learn to Meditate classes in Staten Island and at people’s homes and businesses throughout New York City, New Jersey and Upstate New York. If you’re interested in learning how to Meditate, click here and make an appointment.