THE ENTIRE BEAUTY PRACTICE IS A FORM OF MEDITATION
THINK AND MEDITATE: SAVOR THE SILENCE
It is in the silent moments, the emptiness, when deep renewal occurs. Silence is a sound, and it is the most beautiful sound to behold. Now, if only we heard that gorgeous sound more often!
Perhaps it initially seems a bit weird to put “thinking” and “meditating” together in a single section. After all, we’re frequently told that meditation is all about shutting off our brain and clearing our thoughts. Nope impossible. In fact, it is all but certain that at some point in your meditation practice, uncomfortable thoughts will pop into your head, and you will need to sit with them to share the silence with them This is a way to cultivate bravery. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts; instead, it’s about creating space between you and your thoughts so you don’t do what I like to call “thought-clinging. ? Of course, there are some thoughts we want to hold on to, like when we are trying to find a solution to a problem, and then there are others types of “thought forms” that we cling to that are not beneficial to us. They are thoughts that will bring us down or make us feel heavy, and will wreak havoc on our central nervous system. They have the potential to take over if we entertain them for too long. Those are the thoughts I’m talking about, those are the thoughts you will need to watch come and go especially go. Sayonara!
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Incorporating a meditation practice into our life is unspeakably powerful. In the eighteen years since I have been meditating, I’ve found that my meditation practice has come to the rescue many times over. When I sit down to meditate, I feel stress melting away, which is especially beneficial during flu and cold season, when stress contributes to the weakening of our immune system It also helps smooth things over when something external has pushed a button that triggers a flow of unsavory thoughts.
In addition to meditation, we will also incorporate such practices as breathing, visualization, and mantras. All of these nicely supplement meditation by slowing us down and giving us a point of focus. However, they can be done completely on their own to great benefit.
One of my favorite ways to change my mind-set and outlook is through mantras. A mantra is an intentional word, sound, or phrase that assists us in a mindfulness practice like meditation. The yogi guru B. K. S. Iyengar explained mantras as a “sacred thought or prayer” meant to be repeated. In fact, mantras are so powerful that they are considered to be one of the paths to enlightenment in the yogic tradition. Because mantras are so sacred and powerful, it’s important that we choose our own mantras thoughtfully, and that they resonate deep within us. It is a guide that assists us in deep relaxation. It is a tool that helps detoxify the mind, body, and spirit of negative and unsupportive thinking and behavior.
Traditionally, teachers assign mantras to their students, selecting phrases they believe will assist the student in his or her personal growth. Whether we are designing our own mantras or they are passed along to us, a mantra is ultimately a tool to help us develop an inner life that is most aligned with our personal values and authentic self. There are lifelong mantras, and there are also shorter-term ones meant to accompany us through specific phases of our life.
There are many ways to receive and use a mantra. I personally practice a form of meditation known as Transcendental Meditation. As part of the learning process, each student is given a mantra in the form of a sound. This mantra is passed along from teacher to student by being said aloud once by the teacher when the mantra is “assigned, ” and once by the student when he or she “receives” it. After this, the mantra is repeated over and over again, but only silently as the student practices two twenty-minute meditations per day, using the mantra as a focal point. The mantra is considered so sacred and personally meaningful that it is never to be shared with anyone other than the student and teacher.