Being raised in a relatively strict Roman Catholic household, I learned early on the value of religion, rituals and faith. My parents were both from strict Catholic upbringings, so church every Sunday, rosary services at home during Lent and Catholic schooling through high school. I only mention this as my upbringing showed me the value of rituals and devotion.
My eldest brother had first introduced me to eastern philosophies and religions through his vast collection of books. When he wasn't home, I'd often sift through his book collection in awe of the knowledge and concepts with every page I turned. Buddhism was most interesting to me as that time in my life - a religion committed to the understanding that all of life is suffering, justified the trouble I was experiencing. My upbringing taught me to pray. My brother's books led me to meditation. They are not too different but what is different is the seeker.
And so fast forward to about 25 years later, here we are at a critical time where meditation is now mainstream. Everyone seems to be talking about it and doing it! Meditation rooms are now found in airports, hospitals, and in offices.
If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.
- Dalai Lama
The most common type of meditation is Mindfulness Meditation - being present, allowing your thoughts to form and practicing detachment. Other types could be using guided visualization, or incorporating a mantra while using one's breath to change state of consciousness or breathing through an ascension of your energy centers. Find what works for you.
Click here for an article describing some of the more common kinds of meditation techniques.
Some time ago, I participated in Deepak and Oprah's 21-day meditation course where every day for 21 days, you receive an email with a 20 minute guided meditation around a theme. You are able to record notes for each meditation, listen according to your own schedule and even catch up on lessons you may have missed. It was simple and easy to use, and follow. New one has already started on March 16th!
I also discovered a meditation class at ISHTA Yoga with Alan Finger. He led each 75 minute class through a pre and post meditation asana, pranayama (breathing technique), mantra mediation and a vinyasa flow. It was a perfect combination which kept me engaged and complete. I felt the effects and changes almost immediately and compounding after every class.
As meditation grew in popularity, it also became city chic. ThePath.com was this secret underground meditation class in the West Village that you had to receive an invite to. This made it even more desirable. These highly coveted Monday early morning sessions are often completely packed and now meet more than once a week and are even in LA. Read this article from the NY Times about their program. The Path leads us through four different styles of meditation in one hour so that you are equipped with the experience to know what works for you and when to use them. At times, you may need to meditate on something troubling you, or you may need to create an inner sense of focus, attention and energy, or you may need to connect or disconnect. There's a style and type for every one and every situation. It's also a great way to meet like hearted people amongst the city's frenzy.
So you see, there are options out there available for your particular needs. Finding what is right for you is the only challenge but you won't know what works until you try. Meditation may not even look like what traditional meditation is - for you it could be, walking, gardening, cooking or a yoga class. Spending time in quiet stillness, exercising your mind while focusing your thoughts is the underlying requirement. Whatever it looks like, you'll sure know when it feels right!
Some articles of interest:
A popular meditation app now all the buzz and also being utilized in the hospitality sector as Westin Hotels launch a new program called Westin-Well-Being is Headspace.
Headspace was founded in 2010 by Rich Pierson and Andy Puddicombe (Ted Talk - All it takes in 10 mindful minutes). Bringing together authentic content, modern technology and a fresh approach to creative design, Headspace produce practical mindfulness tools for modern day living. Try it! I recommend this to many of my clients.