Many of us seek to change our lives but we don’t know how to do it or don’t know where to start. We may be living a life that is like the movie “Groundhog Day”. You know, the movie where Bill Murray wakes up every day at the same time and the events of every day are exactly the same. The difference is that our lives are reality and it can seem that we are repeating the same patterns and running into the same issues daily.
The ”trap” we fall into is that we have trained our minds to go to the same thoughts and feelings over and over. Our thought patterns have become so ingrained, that we are literally stuck where we are and don’t know how to get out.
What are the steps to take to change our lives?
- Recognize that you truly wish to change your life and you are ready, able and willing to do whatever it takes to change your life.
- Commit to this change. We cannot change without commitment.
- Learn to meditate and utilize your Meditation practice to make the changes you seek.
Can Meditation really help anyone to make any change they seek? The simple answer is “yes”.
So how exactly does Meditation help us to change our lives?
The first thing it does is it helps us to start quieting that constant chatter in the minds. One of the biggest difficulties people face is that they simply cannot quiet all of that chatter in their minds. When we allow that chatter to happen on a regular basis, he takes control and we just can’t stop it. What happens when we lose control of our thoughts? We cannot focus on the things we need to focus on. We cannot get well rested. We repeat tasks and thoughts over and over because these tasks and thoughts are now ingrained in our minds.
Some people say that they can’t meditate because they can’t quiet their thoughts. Anyone can quiet their thoughts. However, it does take a skillful teacher to show you how to do this and it takes practice.
It’s important to understand that the techniques used in Meditation take time to learn and time to perfect. In the early stages of learning Meditation, one of the goals is to connect with a stillness, a sense of quiet, a sense of peacefulness in the mind and to do this for as long as we can. In the beginning, most of us can only do this for 30-60 seconds. That may not seem like a lot, but some of our minds are so busy, it’s possible that we have not brought any quiet into our minds since we were children.
Once we start bringing whatever period of quiet to the mind, we then extend this time with practice. What may start as only 30 seconds will extend to one minute. Then one minute will extend to 2 minutes, then 3, 4, 5 and more minutes. The beauty of the practice is that the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Your mind starts to remember what it was like to be peaceful and it wants you to return to this peace as often as you can
Once we have trained the mind to remain in a quiet state and we practice this on a regular basis, it is then ready to be trained to bring about changes.
What are the steps to bring about changes through Meditation?
- Practice bringing calm (stillness) to the mind. This practice is called Shamata.
- In your daily Meditation, create within your mind the change that you seek. This is called your “intention” or “motivation”. It can also be seen as your “goal”.
- Visualize what that change might look and feel like. This is very important. You must be able to see and/or feel how this change will affect you. Create an image of the “you” that you wish to be and see how you appear. Then step into the “clothes” of that new you and see how you feel.
- Do #3 above every day and this will help guide you to become the new you.
- And finally, on a daily basis, look for opportunities to help others and help them. The more we seek to help others, the more we will start to live in the moment and live outside of our minds. We will stop focusing on the past and the future and start living in the moment.
What if I’m struggling with something that I can’t get away from?
There are many of us that have past experiences and current circumstances that we are so attached to, that we cannot break our mind’s attachment to it. We think about these things all the time no matter how hard we try not to.
The steps outlined above will start a process that will allow you to deal with these difficult situations. What typically happens is that during our Meditation, the root cause(s) of our problems will surface. We have an opportunity to look at these root causes, understand them, and create a course of action to address them.
Sometimes, before we can make changes in our lives, we must make peace with the past. One or more past situations may have left a very strong imprint on us and we need to learn to accept these situations and make peace with all of the feelings that exist in us.
One of the most powerful meditations we have taught at The Compassion Center is a “Forgiveness Meditation”. In this Meditation, we practice asking for forgiveness, forgiving ourselves, and forgiving those that have harmed us. It is a Meditation practice that can take months to work, but we do feel and see progress gradually and it feels like a weight is lifted from our shoulders as it begins to work.
Many of us are prisoners of our past experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Each day, something may happen that brings painful experiences and emotions to the surface. By reconnecting with these things, we reinforce the negative thoughts and emotions that are associated with experiences from the past.
We don’t have to be prisoners. We have the ability to release ourselves from the pain and fear that we carry. And even though we are surrounded by temptation to take shortcuts to remedy these difficulties with alcohol, pills and other substances, these are truly not solutions and will only make matters worse. Meditation is the most effective way to address the challenges we face and to help us to bring about whatever changes we seek in life.
Dan Globus, Director and lead Meditation and Mindfulness teacher of The Compassion Center teaches group Meditation classes in Woodstock, NY, at Euphoria Yoga and Mountain View Studio. If you seek to make changes in your life, come to Meditation classes in Woodstock at one of these places. Dan teaches classes for beginners, for Meditation practitioners, and for people seeking to make changes in their lives. Visit our Meditation events calendar to see when the next Meditation classes in Woodstock, NY, will be taking place.