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Awakening an Inner Life

As most of us plunge daily into a world replete with work, activities, electronics and media, we tend to become more disconnected from our internal existence. We each have a gold mine inside of us that for many remains untapped, while many others have just explored the surface.

I feel that I have been blessed with an introspective nature, having quick and easy access to my thoughts and feelings throughout my life. For nearly four decades, I have engaged in many forms of meditative practice. I’ve also taught various kinds of meditation at the college level, several times annually at my temple, and incorporate themSometimes just a well-used overnight can be so rejuvenating! into the counseling and retreat work that I do as a psychologist.

Just as observing nature opens us to a profound sense of solitude, beauty and understanding, a foray into our inner lives continually reveals virgin landscape. What can be developed is concentration, receptivity, curiosity, creativity, imagery, deeper awareness of thoughts and feelings, greater presence and more. Some of the “more” includes a chamber of secrets that can only be acquired through diligent and persistent, yet patient pursuit. How’s all that for serious value?

There are a lot of “how to’s” with meditative practice. I just want to mention some basic, simple instructions for a practice that ultimately pays the handsome dividends I noted above. The essence of any meditation is detached observation or witnessing. Even if you practice other forms of meditation, e.g. involving a mantra or contemplation, I suggest taking at least five minutes daily (five minutes is plenty for beginners) to attune to what is happening inside of you moment to moment. Just observe the fluctuating thoughts, images, bodily sensations, breath patterns or emotions that occupy your attention. This practice is best done in a comfortable sitting position, with your back straight/erect, when alert and before a meal. Shortly after awakening is optimal for most people, including myself. Closing your eyes allows you to eliminate input from the external sense that you most likely rely on. You can sit quietly, or play various kinds of instrumental (non-lyric) music, e.g. classical, environmental, or new age. While my own preference is sitting quietly, each type of music will provide a different kind of experience.

Resist the very common temptation to evaluate or judge your meditative experience, such as, “my mind was really noisy today.” However, you may find it useful to become aware of a specific pattern, e.g. “I focused a lot on hunger pains in my belly” or “I was preoccupied with money worries.”

By allotting five or more minutes once or twice a day for this witnessing process, over time it will work its magic on you and you will accrue its benefits—some quite notable and others, very subtle.

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