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With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90  days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.

01 November 2011

Meditation for (Distracted) Dummies (Like Me): Part Two

This post is a follow-up to my October 6, 2011 post. 

A lunch-time conversation yesterday with a friend brought the subject up again: many of us believe that meditation is supposed to result in a blissfully clear mind, unfettered by thoughts, worries, or remembering.  And when we fail to acheive that, we give up on meditation, saying we can't do it right and even feeling inadequate for our failure.

Because meditation is so important a part of my pain management practice, and because it only brings me to a blissfully clear mind about 2% of the time (at best), I have learned for myself that meditation does not have to feel "right" to be effective.  It does not seem to matter whether I come out of a session feeling that it was a good one (whatever that means), or feeling that it was a flop because my mind never shut up: the benefits for pain management are none the less real to me. 

When we turn to the silence within, we take the lid off of the cauldron of worries, fears and thoughts otherwise hidden by busy-ness, noise, addictions and avoidance.  In that sense, meditation leads us to and through parts of our spirits and minds that we otherwise deny and ignore.  No wonder we don't often feel blissfully calm during meditation! 

There's another reason to persist in a daily meditation practice.  Any major world religion that I have investigated stresses the importance of meditation, although the word used may be different.  It's not just the eastern religions:
  • Christians call it centering prayer.
  • One site I saw said that Jews meditate for intellectual focus, among other things, and also to acheive a state called "eyin," or nothingness.
  • There are YouTube videos for Baha'i meditation
  • Native Americans practice meditation in many forms, all based on the sacred connection to Mother Earth and the Great Spirit.  The rituals, such as sage-buring, are beautiful, too.
  • The Sufi Muslims practice zikr meditation, zikr meaning "remembrance of God."
  • According to Wikipedia, Samayika in Jainism, means being in the moment in continuous real time.
There are, of course, many more world religions, but I provide these few examples to make a point: meditation is a wide-spread practice understood by centuries of wise persons to be essential to spiritual growth and enlightenment.  Who am I to argue with them, or to decide their wisdom does not apply to me?

In my next post, I'll write about why I believe meditation benefits me spiritually and for pain management even though I rarely have a silent mind while meditating.

I would love to hear from you.  Please use the Comment link below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.  Thank you.

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