Imagine relief from your most troublesome thoughts and difficult emotions – depression, anxiety and anger. Imagine a way to find the peace, meaning and joy you’ve sought throughout your life.
If this was a new drug, you may wonder, “Does it have side effects, is it addictive, is it expensive, and is it legal?”
But it isn’t a drug, and it isn’t a treatment that someone else applies to you.
It is meditation, and it’s free and available to each of us.
I believe that it is so vital to physical and emotional well-being that it should be part of the core curriculum of every school and a practice parents ought to pass to each child.
Meditation is more than an exercise in relaxation, a brief respite from the stress of the day. It is more than a ritual or religious practice.
It can begin as a way of breathing or thinking, but it can evolve into a way of being.
Many of us begin meditation to calm our minds. Some, in our practice, will discover insights into our lives. With diligence we may discover that we have transformed our ways of thinking, feeling and being, living our lives from a new perspective.
We are complex physical, intellectual and emotional beings. At any one time, we possess conflicting motivations, feelings, desires and thoughts. Without awareness, mindfulness, discipline and deliberation, we can react to others and the circumstances of our lives, carried away by emotion.
Yet meditation is not a denial of your negative thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. It is a means to gain greater awareness of them, accept their existence, perceive their source and recognize that we need not succumb to them. Knowing that we are more than these thoughts, feelings and sensations, we can master and transcend them.
Some forms of meditation use mantras – sounds, words or phrases that facilitate insight or transformation. The classical mantra is “Aum”. You could imagine it as the sound of each of the vowels, a, e, i, o, u blended together into a humming sound, symbolizing the vibration underlying all of existence.
When a meditation gong is sounded, it can remind the listener to return to mindfulness, questioning, “What am I doing? What am I thinking? What am I feeling?” In my life, meditation gongs include the ring of a telephone or the vibration of a pager, prompting me to be centred and to respond mindfully.
Physical pain and other symptoms can serve as meditation gongs, raising our awareness of changes in our bodies. Strong emotions can also serve as meditation gongs.
I call my own method of meditation, “Seven Questions, Seven Mantras”. The seven questions increase my awareness of my present state. They are a call to return to mindfulness. What am I feeling? What am I thinking? What am I doing? What am I saying? How am I relating? What do I see? Who am I?
The seven mantras answer each question as an affirmation of my ideals. Feel your breath. Think on peace. Walk in grace. Speak the truth. Express love. See beauty. Experience wonder.
In upcoming posts, I will walk you through the seven steps.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician at PrimeCare Medical. His Healthwise column appears regularly in this paper and his internet radio show, Positive Potential Medicine can be heard on pwrnradio.com.