Illustration by Danielle Abisaab
Have you taken your medi-tation today?
I tend to walk away from generalizations but I think you will agree with me on the following observation; we live in a desperately hasty society mainly comprised of individuals seeking distractions to busy themselves in, trying to fill every spare moment with decibels and diversion, seeking escapism from themselves through the excesses of drugs, alcohol, partying, overindulgence and some more of all that. Do you not as much as I do, get the sense while driving through the streets of loony Beirut City that everyone is in a hurry to get to absolutely nowhere? Isn’t the overcrowding real estate a live testimony to this insane race with no end line in sight, some promoters and investors are engaged in? And isn’t the reckless honking, drilling, cursing, tires screeching and overall surrounding madness pounding at us as we walk down the streets of what I now officially call Bonkersville, a clear reflection of our culture’s inner chaos? It is becoming crystal clear that meditation is far more necessary in this part of the world than anywhere else on this planet,
We can carry on blaming it on the gazillion years of war that have plagued our lives and consequently created in us a desire to live to the fullest like tomorrow would never come …bla bla bla, boohoohoo….or we can put the dead past to rest and start doing something in the present to better serve our future. Here’s and idea: let’s rush to “take it easy” and practice presence for a change. The biggest revolutions take root in the mind before they grow and expand out into the world while inner revolutions stem from a place of no-mind. Changing the world around us starts by changing ourselves so I invite you to mentally project a Lebanon as a result of people who meditate! Would be pretty groovy no? How unimaginable is it to sit down for 5 minutes every day to the benefit of creating peace and quiet, to inspire and invite stillness?
Simple equation: If we learn to put brakes on our express train brains, then maybe we can slow down the ambient “mushrooming” massive madness.
The good news is you don’t need anything to benefit from meditation but the willingness to sit, sit tall and keep sitting. The spirit, like a flower is waiting to blossom under the “soil” of mundane mental noise in everyone. Meditation is about allowing the mind to hold a focus onto a sound, an object, or task and to keep it there no matter how many distracting thoughts arise. You could practice mindful walking, breathing, singing or mindful showering for all I care… just practice people.
Well first, stick by this golden rule: If you find meditation to be really hard this is a strong indicator that YOU of all people need to do it, consistently and diligently. When you meditate regularly, you start to confront the nagging mind, which drags you constantly out of focus. You start to see how your perceptions are shaped by your own concerns, fears and hopes and how they actually loose you in the barrage of thoughts that arise within the vortex of your own minds.
It’s vitally crucial to understand that meditation is active work, the work of constantly keeping the mind soft and bringing it back to the object of attention. “Begin again” is the mantra for a “successful” meditation. As soon as you catch your mind wandering off and engaging in thoughts, bring it back to your chosen point of focus and begin again, over and over and over again. Meditation is not about spacing out either, daydreaming or settling comfortably into that nice inner space however enjoyable they may all be, it is about reaching out mentally toward the object of your focus and holding your attention still. It is as simple and as difficult as that.
One valuable tip: do not try and attain anything as it would be a distraction in itself, do not try and repress the thoughts at all because it would clearly equate thinking, let the thought come, let the thought go as much as in comes the breath, out goes the breath. Envision your mind as a movie screen with images passing through and embody the spectator in the theater rather than the actor in the movie.
And if I were to simplistically summarize the essence of meditation, I’d just say: BE. The greatest treasure is here and now, not in the yearning for any other experience than the one you are presently having.
Together we can make a difference in one direction or the other, we know which direction we’ve taken so far. Our times call out for drastic change, so let’s all get with the program, become proactive because one does make a difference..then two then three then ten, then a hundred. If you can enthuse one person around you into becoming still by being a model of inspiration to them and they in turn inspire another, so on and so forth, then maybe the spiral of decline we are sliding through can give way to a ladder guiding us to soaring new heights. All you have to do is start now!