Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

If someone were to ask you to think of meditation, you would immediately flash to a mental picture of something like this:

Women Meditating
Then you would scoff and think of something like this:
Swami Meditating

However, I have to ask you, do you practice yoga or pilates? Tai Chi?  How about deep breathing exercises or centering exercises?  That, my friends, is a form of meditation.

Why do I bring this up, you ask?  I mentioned this briefly in my 2009 Year in Review post but I have been practicing meditation for over a month now and absolutely love it.  After the first week, I found myself able to control my temper.  After the second week, I was calmer and more focused than I have ever been.  After three weeks, I was at peace with myself and comfortable enough to actually enjoy myself around my in-laws – a major improvement over previous visits.  One week was enough to make me believe that something was occurring, but after three weeks, I am a complete believer.  However, I had an inkling that this might be the path for me months before I finally caved.  I owe it all to a book.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was an amazing book.  I have linked to my review, so I am not going to repeat myself here, but what occurs in the book does relate to my story.  While Ms. Gilbert is in India, she specifically mentions mantras she chants while meditating.  At the time I was reading the book, I was in the throes of studying for my re-take of my second certification exam.  As you all know, I failed it the first time I took it.  I was a mess; I was anxious and stressed out.  I got to the passage that takes place in India and picked up on one of the mantras Ms. Gilbert mentions, and more importantly, I started saying it to myself.  I would internally chant it to myself before bed or whenever I would get anxious.  That week before I took the second exam, I actually had no problems sleeping because I believe the mantra helped me calm down enough to let my body do the rest.  Even more impressive, I briefly chanted it to myself while breathing deeply before the retest and during it whenever I felt my heart rate spike.  After a few seconds, each time I could literally feel my heart rate slow down and my anxiety fade.  (I had tried deep breathing exercises without the chanting during the first two exams with no success.)  You will remember that I passed the retest, and I honestly do not know if I could have done it without the rest and calm chanting (internally) helped cause.

I started looking around my area to see if there were any sort of meditation centers.  At this point in time I had done no research and was just going by what I had read in the book and my gut feeling that this was for me.  I found a lovely meditation center a few miles from my home and discovered they were having a seminar in December.  I asked Jim if I could take the seminar, as the fee was quite hefty, and he agreed that this would be my Christmas present.  I took the seminar, and here I am.

Since then, I have read more about meditation and now know that there are many different forms of it.  I personally use primordial sound/mantra meditation.  I do not have to sit in any formal poses, like those I used above.  I do not have to make any sounds with my vocal chords.  I just have to sit twice a day and focus on my mantra.  The opportunity to sit for a maximum of thirty minutes twice a day is so delicious, that I find I miss it when I happen to skip a day of meditating.  I have even chosen to willingly get up at 5:00 AM every morning to do my morning session, and I HATE getting up early.  It is worth it.

I mention this because at the same time I was investigating meditation centers, I was offered the book Be the Change by Ed and Deb Shapiro to review.  I have been reading it after each meditation session, which is why it has taken me so long to finish it.  I also wanted to give you an idea of what has been going on personally that will definitely impact my review of the book, to be posted soon. 

I also mention this because it is too coincidental that I read Eat, Pray, Love at a time where I so desperately needed to be calm and focused and that I was offered an entire book on the power of meditation at the very same time I was actively looking to learn more about it.  Spiritual growth is one area on which I would like to focus this year, and I feel that both books have put me on that path more than anything else in my life. Was it fate?  Was it divine intervention?  Was it something else I have yet to discover?  Whatever it was, it confirmed my belief that everything happens for a reason, and that I just have to have faith that it will work out in the end.

Image: Signature Block

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