The benefits of meditation and, the new buzzword, mindfulness are widely available, plus, the psychology and neuroscience community are finally getting round to scientifically proving it’s benefits.
However, this post will not describe or display those benefits in that way. I’m not interested in the proof before I try these things, I like discovering things for myself.
My intention for this post is to suspend your beliefs enough to give it go, to understand the simple yet deeper sense of what a meditative state is like and to share my experiences of ‘getting into the meditative state’.
My first attempt of getting into a meditative state was through hypnosis (hypnotherapists out there may disagree on the difference between meditation and hypnosis, so what I’m referring to is a deeper state of calm), it was whilst listening to a CD that helps with social anxiety disorder.
I didn’t really understand how or if it would work for me, but I gave it a go. I remember vividly lying on my bed with a portable music player next to my head, and playing it over and over. I don’t think I ever got into the spirit of it, I just ended up feeling drowsy and sometimes fell asleep.
I think I was hoping it would magically cure me, so I felt a bit disappointed with the results, but I didn’t give up…
Then I got my first taste of hypnosis not only with a live practitioner, but with none other than Richard Bandler, the co creator of NLP, who studied under the great hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson.
Not only that, I was sat on stage with him in front of 299 people at a live event. What was I thinking?
The opportunity came a couple of days earlier when Bandler asked the audience to put their issues on a piece of paper and in a suggestion box, then he’d pick one at random to work with the person live on stage.
So, he picked me!
…and it totally caught me off guard.
I remember him reading out my request over the sound system, his voice booming “Could you please help me with my social anxiety?”.
Then gingerly put my hand up. It was like I had left my body for a moment. I began to calm down and had a dialog with him from my near front row seat.
He got me up on stage and the next thing I know, I was feeling very relaxed, he told me to close my eyes and relax. I dipped my head slightly forward and felt that meditative state I’m talking about. It was like my thoughts had been turned down in volume, a wave of peace came over me.
He asked me to visualise all of the negative events I experienced in the past, turn the images black and white and move them into the distance. It felt effortless, as if it was happening automatically, maybe it was, I don’t know.
I heard him telling a story to the audience, my eyes were still closed but I was still fully aware of my surroundings. If I wanted to, I could have opened my eyes at any moment, It was just very comfortable having my eyes closed.
“Welcome back” Bandler said. He brought me out of the trance-like state and I felt very comfortable in my own skin, it was fantastic facing the audience without feeling tremendous amounts of anxiety flood my senses. He wished me farewell, the audience applauding in the background, I felt awesome! I was just about to walk off of the stage and Bandler grabbed my wrist, “Hold on a minute, why don’t you say something to the audience before you go?”
I turned around and face the audience calmly and said “Are you all having a good time?”
“YES!” They said, and gave me a huge applause. It was such a wonderful feeling of peace (I wish I could see this footage to see what I looked like).
That was another brief encounter of that deeper feeling of innate peace.
Since then I continually looked for ways to feel better. I wasn’t purposefully searching for peace of mind, I stumbled across it.
Around 2 years ago I began looking into all things spiritual to explore meditation and other eastern philosophies. (Previous to that the world spiritual really turned me off, all I could think of was hippies, incense, long beards and sitting cross legged in silence. The whole idea of spirituality put me off, but as I began to look deeper, I realised that I didn’t have to be anyone other than myself, I could be spiritual and not act stereotypically spiritual.)
I started testing out meditation at my support groups and it was wonderful seeing people leave feeling a lot calmer.
I started using it for brainstorming and finding my deeper purpose. I have reached wonderful, deeply peaceful state of mind by simply allowing myself to have a couple of hours to myself, a timer, some calming mediation music (through headphones) and some paper and a pen to write with.
It’s like ideas seem to come out of nowhere when you are that calm, ideas that you simply couldn’t access when your mind is busy.
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
I had the most beautiful insights into my life and how I can help others. I had huge insights into my potential that at one moment felt amazing, then the intellect seemed to say “You can’t do that, it’s not possible” and I had that scared feeling as if I was a child again.
Over the past 18 months, I have seen the meditative state of mind as a magic wand that settles me down, if my thinking is all over the place, I know that if I calm down my mind, all will become clear. The funny thing is, my wound up mind can trick me into not slowing down, then the cycle of busy-mindedness continues.
The reason I have seen it as a magic wand, is because I know at a deeper level, where my experience comes from. The Inside Out. It’s never the event, person or circumstance that’s making me anxious. (I know it appears that way, but we always have to interpret what happens to us before it can have an affect on us).
So since looking in this inside out direction (of which I often forget, but it’s still there in the background, always) I know not to take my negative thoughts too seriously, and that I am much more OK with not being OK as I used to.
And the bottom line is…
…I know that my wellbeing (the meditative state I’ve been talking about) is there underneath all of the negative crap that goes on, so I am always ok, and not fundamentally broken as I thought I once was.
Michael Neill says it like this…
“The meditative state of mind is the closest thing to a “magic wand” that I have come across in 25 years of exploring the human potential. It heals the body. It is the gateway to our deeper wisdom. It opens us up to a world of deeper feelings. It gives us glimpses into the nature of the universe.
Most people who understand its power have learned to access it through discipline and practice over time. But when you recognize it as our natural state, there is nothing you need to do. It is not only where you are sitting right now. It is the one who is doing the sitting.”
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