Too many people make too big a production of meditation. The key thing is to find somewhere quiet and peaceful, and become quiet and peaceful yourself. If some question or thought is bugging you, you will find it extremely difficult to get a meditative answer because the fact that something is bugging you takes you out of the flatlined, serene state that allows the mind to drift free.
Q: What do you mean, flatlined state?
A: If you were to go to the doctor’s office and get hooked into one of the machines that monitors your body functions, then in the state we’re striving for, the readout would be essentially a flat line.
Any repetitive task that doesn’t involve sudden, abrupt surprises will do. Washing dishes at a sinkful of nice warm sudsy water is ideal, provided the dishes aren’t too fragile and you don’t have to take too much care or worry about breaking something. Somehow having water present and involved helps meditation along. It may be that the fact of our origin in the sea ourselves so long ago in what is surely the most natural of environments, the contact with warm liquids, gets us back to a time when our problems were of an entirely different sort.
Today there are so many things that cause us stress that simply getting into the meditative state is a challenge. We have probably mentioned before our favorite mnemonic, HARP: These letters represent four words that will help you proactively limit stress.
The H stands for Humor. If you can laugh at yourself or at a situation, the stress will be removed from it.
The A stands for Avoidance. Why do you have to continually put yourself back into stressful situations when they could be avoided? Why do you always drive to work at the same time over the same route? Why not try a time when there won’t be a traffic jam? Why get into a fight with a loved one or a child over things that in a few weeks’ time will seem so unimportant? Just refuse to get into the fight. Just refuse to drive when you know traffic will be jammed.
The R stands for Renaming. Right now summer is starting. It’s @#$* hot downtown–but it sure is pleasant at the beach. So instead of thinking what a lousy hot day it is, think of how pleasant it would be on the beach.
Finally the P stands for Place. This is a tricky one. What you need to do is try to remove yourself from the place you’re in and put yourself into a pleasant environment: a safe environment. We often go through a little meditative exercise with our students. We ask them to invent a safe place: safe and pleasant and secret, one that they can keep in their mind and revisit when a situation seems to be getting out of hand.
To enhance further your ability to meditate, a glass of red wine and a chunk of dark chocolate just before starting adjust the body’s endorphines so that meditation comes more easily. Of course, being “those people” (oh gasp), we also recomment an orgasm or maybe two before starting. Yes, we’ve said it all before and you’ll hear us say it again; but meditating isn’t difficult. It just takes a little time and patience.