Keeping Your Calm – The Practical Value Of Meditation

Life is difficult. It always has been and it always will be. And I believe it’s meant to be difficult. We are not as pro-active as we like ourselves to be. We are basically a bunch of hedonists looking for an easy ride. The meaning of life, in my humble opinion, lies in our growing as human beings, and since learning and therefore growing implies an effort which we wouldn’t undertake if left to our own devices, the powers that be throw problems our way, one after the other. Because it’s by solving problems that we learn.

It’s not the circumstances in our lives that constitute the problems, but our emotional reaction to them. Problems make us FEEL bad.

Our emotions are obviously determined by our thoughts, because if I, for example, constantly focus on my economic challenges, it makes me feel lousy. If, on the other hand, I focus on the sheer miracle of being alive, I sure feel better.

In this post I’d like to focus on a technique that doesn’t teach us how to think positive or how to avoid negative thoughts. But a technique that allows us to distance ourselves from our own thoughts by observing them, thereby liberating us from the consequences of our thoughts.

Way back in the eighties I used to travel the world, and at some point in time I ended up with an Austrian buddhist on the Peloponese in Greece. I turned into a Buddhist myself, which was obviously just another ego trip of mine. However, what I learned at that time I am still practicing today, and it is still of immense value to me.

By now I don’t care whether I’m a Catholic or a Buddhist, and I’m not meditating to find God. I’m basically meditating as a means of survival, so as not to be taken hostage by own emotions.

It’s pretty simple, actually, and at the same time, if you are not used to it, extremely difficult.

You don’t need a gong nor incense sticks, you don’t need to hum mantras, you don’t even have to assume the lotus position, nothing of the sort.

Find a place where you can be undisturbed for 20 minutes. Disconnect all phones, turn off the radio.

Sit on a chair that is not too comfortable, and sit straight, if possible. If your back starts to hurt, move a little, there is no point in ‘going through the pain’. Find a spot on the wall where you can focus your eyes initially.

Start to breath in through the nose and breath out through your mouth. When exhaling imagine that you are exhaling the thoughts that are going through your head at that instance.

Do not try to control your thoughts, this is not some neuro-linguistic exercise. Let them come free. (By the way, many of them will be of a sexual nature - don’t worry, you’re in good company.)

Again - because this is vital - allow into your mind all images, memories, fears, wishes, whatever, without trying to control the stream of your thoughts and without being judgemental .

Focus on your exhalation, and imagine that whatever is going on in your head being let out.

Doing this has obviously the effect that you actually ‘see’ what’s going on in your mind and heart – you become conscious. And you begin to realize that whatever goes through your mind is pretty fleeting, very often absurd, hilarious. Keep it up.

Do this, if possible, three times a day for twenty minutes and, over time, it will change you. You will stop taking yourself, and your problems, too serious. You will relax.

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