by Liz Uram
I have been trying to practice meditation for over six years without much success. In my mind, meditation equates to sitting still for a period of time, in a certain posture, and with a completely still and quiet mind. I think they call that a state of Zen. Well, in the state of Liz it never quite works out that way. I could pull it off for about 30 seconds then I start fidgeting and my mind starts going.
My mind does not shut off, I love to think and I’m okay with that. The problem was that I always felt like a failure because I wasn’t doing it right. I always came up short even though my intentions were good.
What is the right way to meditate anyway? Well, I always assumed it was the Zen state that I described above. That’s just what I’ve always thought. I never questioned it. Until one day, not too long ago, in a discussion with friends who also include meditation as a part of their daily practice and who also struggle with doing it ‘right’, I picked up the dictionary and looked up the word meditate.
To my surprise and relief the dictionary definition of meditate is completely opposite of what I have thought my whole life. To meditate, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is to consider or think over carefully; contemplate; to spend time in quiet thinking; reflect; intend, plan. WHAT???? It’s a verb! An action word that tells me it’s okay to think, to contemplate, to plan. Nothing in there about emptying the mind.
I had not been meditating incorrectly after all. I was trying to follow the wrong practice the whole time! The type of meditation I had in mind was that of a Buddhist Monk. I’m not a Buddhist Monk and I don’t practice an Eastern religion so why was I following the Eastern definition of meditation? As a Christian, I use prayer and meditation to communicate with God. Communication is an action word.
Wow. This was a profound and life-changing revelation for me. As I let go of the old ideas that were holding me back an interesting thing happened. My mind became more focused and I was able to more fully comprehend God’s will for me because I wasn’t trying to force myself to conform to the physical practice that I was trying to do before. I could sink into this new practice that allowed me to be an active participant.
This awakening has brought me to an entirely new level of spirituality. Spiritual growth is what I’m constantly seeking and the way to grow is to question, think, and search.
The lesson in this story is: set aside your old beliefs and ask questions! Instead of getting down on yourself for not doing things the ‘right’ way or about what you ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be doing, question whether your ideas are even correct.
In my case these were beliefs that I’ve acquired over the years that I never thought to question. Now, instead of concluding my period of prayer and meditation in the morning feeling like I didn’t quite measure up, I can happily go about my day knowing that I am okay.
And because mediation does not require me to acquire a certain physical pose, closed eyes, or complete peace and quiet, I can meditate any time I want throughout the day.
About the author: Liz Uram is a certified professional coach, has a B.A. in Organizational Leadership, is the author of How to Organize & Manage Your Time – A One Year Planning and Action Guide, and is an award-winning speaker. She specializes in helping entrepreneurs and solo professionals attract more qualified leads, get more clients, and make more money! Visit www.coachandmentor.net to learn more.