As a Path to Inner Peace
by Jim Dreaver
To meditate is to sit and be present with whatever is
happening. When you first learn to sit and formally
meditate, it can be difficult because all your
"stuff" tends to come up. You may experience
physical tension and pain, boredom, restlessness,
anxiety, confusion, fear, loneliness.
Facing all this in yourself is part of what
meditation is about. You learn to breathe through these
difficult states, and eventually they pass and cease
being a problem. You find yourself arriving at deeper
levels of clarity, stillness, and peace. You come to
your own realization of the truth contained in the
following haiku, which I penned while meditating
on my deck one morning at sunrise:
Supremely present, mind still
I breathe in
The beauty of this moment.
Many people struggle with meditating
and attaining a quiet mind, yet it can happen with
surprising ease and spontaneity. A story about my son,
Adam, will illustrate what I mean.
He was about eleven years old at the time. Although
he often saw me meditate in the morning if he got up
early enough, he rarely, if ever, "sat"
formally himself. We occasionally talked about
spirituality and enlightenment, but mostly I just let
him enjoy being a kid. His basic nature was (and is)
kind, loving, and generous. He was a happy child who was
in touch with the "energy" behind creation.
How much more spiritual could you get? The last thing I
needed or wanted to do was lay any spiritual
"trip" on him.
On this particular occasion we were on a hike in the
hills, near where we live. It was a beautiful summer's
day, and it was hot. We were walking along a wide, dirt
trail that wound its way through some woods and out into
an open meadow, when we decided to stop for a break. I
was about twenty yards ahead of him. He plopped himself
down right in the middle of the trail, under the trees.
I had just come out into the open, and had found a
comfortable rock to sit on. I had pulled out my water
bottle and was taking a drink, watching a turkey vulture
wheeling overhead, when he called out.
"Dad!" he said, excitedly.
"What?" I turned to face him.
"I just meditated!"
"What happened?" Now, this is going
to be interesting, I thought.
He proceeded to tell me. "Well, I sat down and
my mind was jumping with all kinds of thoughts, and I
just started to really notice these trees, and how the
wind was blowing the leaves around. Then I could hear
the wind. Then I heard some kind of a bird singing…
And then guess what happened?"
"My mind just stopped!"
"Well, everything just stopped. Like, I just got
completely quiet inside."
"How did that feel?"
"It felt great!" He jumped up and
came over to me, thrilled at this new discovery.
"Man, now I can meditate!"
"You sure can," I said, putting my arm
around his shoulder and giving him a hug.
As we continued our walk along the trail, I said to
him, "So now you know what to do. You've learned
the secret of meditation. Whenever you feel scattered or
need to recharge yourself, you just sit down and get
really still. Then you simply pay attention to what you
see in your immediate environment, and you listen
carefully to the sounds you hear, and suddenly you find
yourself out of your head, and you're right here in the
"It feels great to be in the moment, Dad."
"You're still a kid, Adam," I replied,
"so you're there pretty naturally. Just remember
what happened today, and you'll always know how to get
back to the now moment if ever you get lost in your mind
Let me share with you now the specific meditation
practice that has worked so well for me for more than
twenty years. It is a practice that quickly releases any
fuzziness or static in my mind, as well as fatigue or
stress in my body. Within a few minutes it usually
brings a wonderful feeling of alignment in body, mind,
I sit every morning, for ten or fifteen minutes if I
have a lot of writing or other work to get to, for
thirty or forty minutes when I have more leisure time.
Sometimes, I'll also sit for a little while in the
evening, although I usually do my half-hour yoga
practice in the evening. That is more of a moving
meditation--a balancing of dynamic poses, with periods
of total stillness in between.
The movement of the yoga releases the accumulation of
the day's stress; the stillness in between the poses
allows me to feel the exquisite energy that bubbles up
in every cell, the delightful current of bliss that is
the by-product of deep and profound relaxation.
The Practice of Meditation
Choose a meditation environment where
you feel a sense of peace, quiet, and beauty. Sit
comfortably, either in a chair or on a cushion, with
your back straight. Close your eyes, breathe down into
your belly. Feel yourself in your body. Feel yourself
centered, grounded, solid. Be supremely present.
Take a minute or two to visualize
yourself as being the awareness, the space, in which
your body appears, in which your breath rises and falls,
in which sensations come and go. As you let your
awareness expand, listen to the sounds around
you--whether of an electrical appliance, a car going by,
the wind sighing, or a bird calling. Then tune-in to the
silence behind the sounds. The deep silence out of which
all sounds arise, and back into which they disappear.
Notice how the silence, the stillness, is always
here--and that it is both empty and incredibly full,
rich in creative potential. When you are totally present
like this, you discover that there is always something
new being born out of silence.
As you observe, or witness, the
continual flow of sensations and feelings in your body,
start paying attention to the thoughts and images in
your mind. Watch them as you would birds flying across
the sky in front of you. Just watch them and let them
fly by, whether they are thoughts of past events, of
people in your life, or of what might happen in the
future. Don't go chasing after them. Don't indulge
yourself in "thinking" about them. This
meditation time is your opportunity to experience what
it is like to be free of thoughts of the past and
future, and simply be here in the present.
So, as you sit, just focus on the sense
of your true nature as being awareness, the vast, clear
blue sky, and your thoughts are but birds winging their
way overhead. Experience the marvelous freedom of not
holding onto anything, but instead, just being fully
present with your awareness.
Periodically, open your eyes so as to
reconnect with your immediate surroundings. It will help
you stay present. Coming back to the awareness of your
breath, to slow, conscious breathing, will also help.
Remember, the primary goal of meditation is to simply be
very still, very present, very alert and attuned to
whatever is unfolding in this moment now.
As your sitting meditation practice
deepens and you become more comfortable with it, states
of tension, restlessness, and boredom will be less and
less of a problem. You'll breathe into them, and they
will pass. A marked sense of clarity, inner peace, and
well-being will more and more be your steady experience.
with permission from The Way of Harmony: Walking the
Inner Path to Balance, Happiness, and Success (Avon
Books) © 1999 by Jim Dreaver.
In addition to The Way
of Harmony, Dr. Jim Dreaver is the author of The
Ultimate Cure, and Somatic Technique. A
graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic and an
acknowledged expert in somatic education, he has been
speaking and teaching in the fields of mind/body
healing, personal mastery, consciousness, and
spirituality for more than twenty years. More recently
he has been taking his work into the field of leadership
coaching and training. He will be facilitating a
transformational workshop at Esalen Institute, December
22-24, 2000 and at Kripalu Center, March 8-11, 2001. For
more information, visit his website at www.jimdreaver.com
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