How might this be possible? I was thinking of the role model the Dalai Lama provides. He will be in Melbourne again this weekend for talks and teachings (how good is Australia’s karma that he comes so regularly?). He seems so relaxed, happy and at ease, yet if you consider his schedule, his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of a country under occupation, his life in exile and all the good works he does; if anyone has a right to be a little stressed or worn out, the Dalai Lama does. Yet well into his seventies, he remains energetic, very effective and prodigious in his output. He does a lot!
From all accounts, His Holiness gets up very early and does 3 – 4 hours of study and practice before starting his day. For us mere mortals, maybe we can receive a good deal of benefit without quite such a routine.
Speaking personally, I came home from a great meeting last week. A lot had been achieved, good ideas developed, new possibilities explored; all in a great atmosphere. Keen to tell Ruth about it, we then went to do what we do each evening, and that is to meditate together.
As I settled into my posture, I noticed this buzz in my body. A fine trembling, tingling sort of a buzz. It occurred to me that this excited energy, left over from the meeting was a good thing, but how it might lead some people on into drinking too much or some other excess.
It seemed to be in contrast to what it would be like to come home from a tough day, feeling depleted, despondent, even exhausted. Such a state, left unnoticed or unmanaged, could lead to other unhelpful activities, not the least of which may be being in a poor state of mind for partner or family.
Meditation offers this wonderful promise of being able to let go of the busyness and regain our balance. Whether we are up or down, balance is better. With our body and mind in balance, we think more clearly, we react more appropriately, we are in a better state to relate well with others. We are likely to be fresh, vital and at ease.
In such a state, there will be no compulsion to talk, but an ease with doing so. We will have no compulsion to be spoken to, but an ease with listening. We will be free to relax in a healthy way, or energised to take up something new when the time is right.
Remember the keys to meditating in a way that reliably brings these benefits. Four steps. Preparation, Relaxation, Mindfulness and Stillness – the essence of Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation.
Put very simply, having prepared well, we relax. Relaxing deeply, we become more mindful. As our mindfulness develops, stillness is revealed; naturally and without effort. We rest in open, undistracted awareness. This is Mindfulness-Based Stillness Meditation.
Oh yes, and at the great meeting last week, we began by sitting together and meditating. Two of those who gathered had never done such a thing before. They were guided very simply to aim to let go of whatever they had been doing earlier and to bring their attention to what was going on right now.
To assist this, there was the suggestion to be mindful of the sounds around about us, then the breath and that natural feeling of relaxing with the out breath. Then we simply rested quietly for a few minutes. Finally we reminded ourselves of our motivation, to help as many people as possible through what we were addressing at the meeting.
Having done this, the atmosphere in the room was transformed. Peaceful, calm, clear. One of the group said that he was really preoccupied with the busyness of what had been happening earlier, that he had felt his mind was all over the place. He said he actually had been concerned that he was in a poor state of mind to give the presentation he was required to do, but now, after that short quiet time, he felt clear and ready.
Just by being able to have a conversation like that, it seemed to me that we began our meeting on a very real and open level. The meeting rapidly developed into one where everyone went away feeling we had achieved a lot, deepened friendships and become energized.
So maybe it is possible. Slow down and accomplish more.
1. Meditation retreats coming soon
i) Germany, July 8-15.
I have been invited by monks from Thich Nhat Hahn’s centre to help lead a therapeutic meditation retreat. The monks wish to expand the meditation they currently offer to include a focus on healing. So this retreat is on at their retreat centre in the woods near Cologne and you can click here for details. Maybe you know someone in Europe who may be interested. EIAB
ii) Yarra Valley, October 7-9.
The same monks will be visiting Australia and combining with me to present a training and personal retreat for health professionals. Full details will be advised soon, but keep the dates free if you are keen.
2. Melbourne workshops
Had an enjoyable weekend presenting workshops in Melbourne. The next Melbourne workshops are on the weekend of September 17-18 and will be run with the Foundation. Again, full details will be on the websites soon.
3. Book launch, Tuesday evening, June 14th from 6.30pm.
There will be an event to mark the launch of The Mind That Changes Everything at Bertha Brown, 562 Flinders St, Melbourne. You are welcome to attend; you just need to reply to firstname.lastname@example.org , or phone 96004982, it promises to be fun.
1. Meditation in 4 easy steps.
2. The Mind That Changes Everything.
3. Relaxation in everyday life.
4. Meditation – how much is enough?
1. Dalai Lama In Australia
2. Books: The Mind That Changes Everything, Ian Gawler
Meditation – an In-depth Guide, Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson
3. Meditation Courses: The Gawler Foundation