Breathe (Photo credit: PhotoLab XL)
Unless we have the capacity to be still and listen, we can’t tune in to our own inner guidance, in which case we’re more or less doomed to remain stuck in the vicious cycle of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acting out the same compulsions. Repeating the same stories about ourselves over and over again.
Meditating is a great way to learn to be still and to develop self-observation skills.
Meditation expands the space between each thing you notice and each action you take.
– Ram Dass
There are many different ways to meditate. The best way to begin is by finding a method that isn’t overly difficult. Expecting to be able to sit or kneel in meditation and immediately clear your mind is unrealistic—and it isn’t even the point of meditation. You can’t stop the stream of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that come and go. But you can learn to observe how they arise and fall away. You can stop getting hooked by them. Or, as Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
Meditation Sticker (Photo credit: Sanne Schijn)
One approach to finding a way to meditate that works for you is to look to the Center of Intelligence that is your Home center: Doing, Thinking, or Feeling.
Doing center types may find one of these active practices more appealing:
- T’ai chi
- Kung Fu
- Hatha Yoga
Thinking center types may prefer some type of insight meditation:
- One-pointedness of mind
Feeling center types may appreciate a practice that includes an emotional aspect:
- Sufi dancing
This is just meant to suggest a starting point. In addition to helping develop self-observation skills, meditation has many health benefits, so no matter how you go about it, meditating is a good habit to cultivate.
Something for Everyone
Here are two meditation practices anyone can do:
- Choose a mantra (a word or phrase that has meaning for you) and repeat it over and over while you are working driving, talking, etc. Say it out loud if you like—and are alone—or repeat it silently.
- Focus on following your breath in and out, in and out. If you lose track, just refocus on your breathing.
You can do either of these practices no matter where you are. They can help you stay grounded, centered, and present instead of carried away by whatever is going on in the moment.
Meditation…A Thoughtless Act
And here is a tongue-in-cheek piece from the October 1999 issue of Enneagram Monthly on tips to improve each type’s meditation. The author is anonymous.
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take a better breath than that.
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Help your neighbor take a breath.
- Close your eyes. Straighten your hair. Adjust your collar. Smooth the creases in your dress.
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a sigh.
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Stay inside.
- Close your eyes. It’s OK; close your eyes. Close both eyes.
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Imagine you are at the beach. Now in the mountains. Now in the desert. Now at a party.
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a goddamn breath!
- Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take your neighbor’s breath.
It’s best to approach meditation lightly, rather than with dogged determination.