Sounds dramatic; I know, but it’s true. I was going through extreme personal challenge, and at forty years of age, I had to re-create my life with my two small sons, completely from scratch. I was tossed into a vortex of pain, self-doubt and paralyzing fear that I never knew existed – I also had no idea how to get out.
Meditation is an amazing tool, and there are many different approaches. At that particular time, a friend introduced me to Vipassana, or insight meditation. This is the traditional kind that has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years. “Vipassana is not for the faint of heart,” I was told. “Things may come up that have been buried for a long time, and it won’t be easy. But your entire being, processes, life and outcomes will transform. You will be able to look at your entire life and take responsibility without beating yourself up. You will embark on a path of forgiveness (beginning with yourself), and experience true self-love. You will learn how to respond instead of react as you cultivate great compassion. You will feel connected and present in a way you aren’t even aware exists right now – and, you will live more joyfully than you ever imagined.”
I was in.
The practice and discipline of Vipassana was very difficult and painful. It also transcended and still transcends “rewarding” in a way I still can’t really describe; only to say that it brought me here with you, to this amazing moment.
STOP. Read what I am about to share, and give it a try.
Close your eyes, taking in three long inhales and exhales. Notice your chest rising with your breath. Now, note three things you can be grateful for. Right now. A person, an experience; a thing…or, simply being alive. Stay with these thoughts; visualize their intricate details; really “feel” each of them, saying “thank you” to whatever or whomever you believe helped into this new awareness – including yourself.
You’ve just meditated. You’ve also just focused on positive things instead of negative ones. You have also created a new neural pathway forged in a positive experience (a great thing for your brain and being), and you may have even changed the way the rest of your day turns out.
That’s because meditation in any form is a powerful act of compassion and self-love. It has scientifically proven health benefits ranging from stress relief to improved concentration to relieving illness. On a deeper level, meditation clears away the noise and challenges of the outer world, allowing us to quiet our minds enough to focus on what’s really good in our lives. Meditation reminds us to be calm, compassionate and present, offering the opportunity to tap into our deepest intuition. It opens us up to Divine energy, to messages and insights that we might never hear over the course of our busy day. Who doesn’t want some of that?