MEDITATION IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK!
IT’S NOT ABOUT “THINKING”
THERE IS “NO MIND” IN
IT’S ALL ABOUT ACTION!
GETTING “IN THE ZONE!!”
There are no big secrets, No mantras, incense, bells, strange music, no sitting and no gurus. Think outside the box: Meditation is as simple, natural as breathing. Yes, most gurus, clinicians and experts will still defend sitting as the only way. It’s not. Personalities differ widely. Sitting meditation works for maybe 20% of us. The other 80% meditate in action. And they do it without thinking they’re meditating, without even calling it meditation. They do what they love, and whatever they’re doing at the moment can be meditation. You’re at peace, you’re alive.
If there is a secret … the secret is that you can’t “not meditate,” that is impossible. We all do it. We all meditate naturally. It just happens. We do it often during the day, breathing, reading, rocking to music, walking, praying, exercising, sports, affirming goals, working in a positive mental attitude. Many years ago my mentor Joseph Campbell was asked by Alan Watts what’s your favorite meditation? “Reading!” Well, guess what … you’re “meditating,” here, now … for these few minutes … reading this column.
PUBLISHER “HATES SITTING”—Marjorie Adams, publisher, Bottom Line Personal
“Truthfully, I hate to meditate … Sitting still is not the only way to meditate. It’s simply the best known … You can meditate while exercising … pursuing a hobby … or playing a game … anything can be a meditation.”
JOGGING—Martha Clopfer in William Glasser MD, “Positive Addictions”
“Meditative is probably the best single word but it is different from Quaker meeting type meditation. … The rhythm of running is a strong element. Sometimes problems get solved while I am running or I think of things to say to people but it is not a figuring out process. More of a sudden flash of insight that comes when you are least trying to find an answer.”
MARTIAL ARTS—Chuck Norris, “The Secret Power Within”
Your mind is not here,” he said. I made no effort to deny he was right; students of martial arts soon learn that their teachers can see right through them. Standing there on the hard ground in Korea, I just bowed my head slightly and waited for Mr. Shin to continue. ‘What you are doing at the moment must be exactly what you are doing at the moment—and nothing else.’ … There’s a certain impatience about Zen, an unwillingness to get lost in meandering arguments, a desire to cut quickly to the essential, or to get to the bottom line.”
YOGA—Andy O’Keefe, Wall Street broker, in “Real Men Do Yoga”
“I’m married with seven kids. Been on Wall Street for 20 years. I’m the owner of a brokerage form: 110 employees. I’m 6’4”, 225 pounds. I’ve lifted weights for years and I run. I played lacrosse at college, and basketball, football in high school. So I love sports. … I just thought yoga was … a weird Eastern thing. But that’s not true at all. … I feel stronger, more flexible. And it’s helped me with my golf … Mentally, it kind of clears your head. You can’t think about anything, but what you’re doing while you’re in there. It’s a good escape for me.” And Bill Gross too.
GOLF—Deepak Chopra, M.D. in “The A.I.M. of Golf”
“When Mitchell (Spearman, golf instructor) and I first spoke, he remarked, ‘The spiritual stuff you think about is something I frequently experience on the golf course. I wish I could experience it when I’m not playing golf.’ I responded, ‘That’s how I feel most of the time, but I lose it when I play golf.’ We made a deal. I would teach Mitchell the rules that make the game of life a joyful, ecstatic expression. Mitchell would teach me the rules that make the game of golf a joyful, ecstatic experience. Guess what. They are the same rules.”
HIKING—Ryel Kestenbaun, in “The Ultralight Backpacker”
“In daily life, there is precious little time to let our minds rest quietly. Our brains are so used to being fed a constant diet of stimulation … You can practice meditation anywhere, at any time—sitting in your car at a red light, eating dinner at a restaurant, and yes, backpacking along a trail. The most profound meditative states I’ve ever reached came while walking by myself along a trail deep in the backcountry, immersed completely in the world around me and within my own self. … Nature is one giant meditation room … provides us with an opportunity to turn down the volume of our everyday lives and become utterly connected with who we truly are.”
FISHING—Robert Pirsig, “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”
“Just to sit with the line in the water” fishing “not moving, not really thinking about anything, not really caring about anything either, seems to draw out the inner tensions and frustrations that have prevented you from solving problems you couldn’t solve before.” Which oddly reminds me of a police commander friend who said when that his wife went to church he meditated while gardening in their back yard.
WALKING—Sam Keen, in “Hymns to an Unknown God”
“Sitting meditation, like repentance, is work … Walking, by contrast, is pure grace, an effortless art that produces surprising moments of spontaneous self-transcendence. When I walk, my mind leaps ahead, skips steps, and presents me with images and ideas out of nowhere. With surprising regularity the thoughts that come to me when I am on a long hike in the hills contain the breakthrough insights I have been unable to reach after weeks of hard intellectual or emotional work.”
RUNNING—Ian Thompson, Marathon Champion
“There is a part of every marathon where something does take over…. the sensation of movement … You lose a sense of identity in yourself, you become running itself … get a feeling of euphoria, almost real happiness… It is the platonic idea of knowing thyself. Running is getting to know yourself to an extreme degree.” As in cycling, tai chi, tennis.
SURFING—Jean-Etienne Poirier, “Dancing The Wave”
“The path of surfing, presents similarities with the paths of all people who have sought meaning and found their essence, whether through surfing, practicing zazen, or studying the Tao.” Surfing as dance? Reminds us St. Augustine once said: “O’ humans, learn to dance, otherwise the angels of Heaven won’t know what to do with you.”
HOBBIES—Clark Strand, former monk, in “The Wooden Bowl”
“Meditation ought to decrease the drivenness of our lives, not make it worse. That is why I say meditate for its own sake, as a hobby … a time when you can occupy your mind with something for its own sake, without getting caught up in any of your usual occupations.”
MUSIC—Norman Fischer, poet and Zen Abbot
“I’m in my car, on the highway. I turn off the news and the baseball game I’ve been listening to and switch to a Beethoven violin sonata that’s loaded in the CD player. Listening to the music, my mind gradually starts to release, like a hand that had been grasping something tightly and is beginning to let go. Another mind appears, a mind completely engaged with the pattern the music weaves. A moment before I had been frozen into the shape of a self in a world. Now, the music has thawed me out.”
WRITING—Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way”
“Morning Pages are my way of meditating … three pages a day … they work for anyone, for painters, for sculptors, for poets, for actors, for lawyers, for housewives, for anyone who wants to try anything creative … Lawyers who use them swear they make them more effective in court. … They are a potent form of meditation for hyperactive Westerners.”