The fruits of forty plus years of meditation

 

This article was inspired by the success of the first article I placed on this blog: A life changing idea, June 25, 2011.  That original article has received more attention than any other and continues to be quite popular.  This article has a somewhat similar theme, but it also involves the practice of meditation.

I have never been very religious, but I have been meditating fairly consistently for about forty years.  At first, I would meditate for just a few minutes, maybe once a month or so.  I have continued the practice on a more frequent basis until the last ten years or so when I have meditated almost daily for at least ten or fifteen minutes.  Obviously, I have found the benefits to be significant, and they only increase with time.  I cannot give any convincing, objective evidence of this; all I can do is attest to what it has meant to me.  Just taking a few minutes to quiet my mind and block out all my day to day anxieties and concerns for a period of time, alone, is worth it, giving me a sense of peace and profound relaxation.  Over the years, I have learned to completely still the thinking, logical aspects of my mind and allow its activity to be replaced by what I can only describe as pure awareness: observing but not thinking.  Even a short period of time in this state feels very rejuvenating.

I want to describe a simple meditation technique that I recently came up with (actually a modification of some ideas of others), but before I do so, I feel I need to share a little about my view of the world since I think the meditation idea I am about to present presupposes a similar way of looking at the world to mine.  It may not be useful to others whose point of view is significantly different than the one I hold.  I believe in God, and I believe He has created everything that exists.  Since He created it all, I see Him as immanent in it all.  Everything He created is actually still a part of Him.  If you find these ideas unacceptable for some reason, I recommend you go on to other articles more comfortable and useful for you.

*                        *                        *

I have tried many forms of meditation, but have always found simple approaches to be most helpful.  I have even developed a few of my own methods that work well for me.

Recently, I made some minor modifications to a common meditation practice for my own use and I really like it.  I thought I might share the idea with others, particularly those who have never found any form of meditation that they have felt comfortable with, yet who still want to learn this valuable practice.

You have probably heard or read about a simple meditation strategy that has been recommended many times and probably used for many centuries.  It consists of finding a quiet, comfortable spot that will allow you to be undisturbed and silently repeating to yourself:

Be still

and know

I am

God

I really like this because of its elegance and clarity, but I am not completely comfortable with it, and I find that anything that causes any discomfort during meditation detracts from its benefits.  As I say the words of this short affirmation, I feel like I am claiming to be the Creator of the universe and the Supplier of all life.  My individual life experience, of course, does not mesh at all with this.  It feels grandiose as I repeat it.

I have found a solution that works nicely for me, based on my belief in God’s immanence in everything and in everybody.  Here it is:

Be still

and know

I am

a ray of

God’s infinite,

loving,

light

This also encouraged me to add another version which I also find to be tremendously helpful, especially in its expansive nature:

Be still

and know

that everyone

I know

and everyone

I know of

are all rays

of God’s

infinite,

loving,

light

Finally, here is one more variation that is about as simple and elegant as the one it mimics, yet it also bypasses the grandiosity problem.

Be still

and know

I am

love

I find these meditative affirmations to be completely comfortable to me.  They express well right where I currently am in my individual awareness.  Both of these meditations create a feeling in me of being in the right place at the right time and of having God’s infinite power working in support of me and through me.  If you are not practiced at meditation, and you want to try this, you may want to print the affirmations on an index card.  As you meditate, if your mind drifts into other thoughts (as it surely will), you can stop yourself and refocus on the idea on the card.

May we all feel an ever greater closeness to the Source of Love Itself, love and hugs to all,

Chuck

 

 

 

 

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About Chuck Gebhardt

I am a physician specializing in internal medicine. I sub-specialize in nutritional medicine. I am very interested in all areas of healing research, not necessarily limited to traditional medicine topics.
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13 Responses to The fruits of forty plus years of meditation

  1. Jochen says:

    “I find that anything that causes any discomfort during meditation detracts from its benefits. ”

    I particularly like this sentence, Chuck, and this is why: I have always been suspicious about spirituality in general and meditation in particular. Quite suddenly, some thirty years ago, I took up some rather strict spiritual training with long meditation weekends all the time and long practice sessions at home. Discomfort during meditation was to  d e e p e n  your practice, and finally you would transcend everything altogether. Took me quite a few years to admit it’s not working for me.

    So, for my meditation today there is only one requirement: No discomfort. In my case, no discomfort includes no words since I am working with words all day long. Nice side effect of that is that the grandiosity problem cannot even come up – not in words anyway. Well, I don’t really mind my grandiosity any more. I feel encouraged to practice “unassuming grandiosity” by Heavenletters (this expression just occurred to me; it may not make sense, but I love it). In my meditation today, I try to allow myself to get into the sense of my most grandiose grandiosity being exactly reality. Sometimes I seem to get close to it, close enough to feel that beautiful, joyous and vibrantly alive oneness is true. ONE, not close or together or same or similar or identical. What could be more “grandiose”?

    Meditation used to be frustrating for many years. After some time, you learn how to let your thoughts go and be still, and it feels good. But then you notice that in your daily life the same old things keep ticking you off and you wonder. What I am learning after a few years of acquaintance with Heavenletters is that old and deep conditioning does not simply dissolve when you’re being silent. A negative self-image or whatever it is will be there again when you get up from your meditation. What Heavenletters add to my meditation is clear and strong intention, sometimes rushing like a mountain stream, sometimes large and unstoppable like Old Man River: The intention for the biggest, most “unrealistic” fulfillment imaginable. Doing that gets me into feeling confident for the first time in my life.

    • In my experience, the whole idea of a meditation practice that encourages discomfort would be the reverse of my idea of helpful and productive meditation. I am glad you eventually gave that up that initial practice, Jochen. I also agree completely that finding the time to be able to allow one’s thoughts to be still is a wonderful thing to experience. A day without meditation for me now feels like a day with a big hole in it.

      I know what you mean about the same old things still tick you off despite your meditative practice. When I experience the sense of peace and oneness of a meditative experience, and then I come back to regular life in the “real” world, my problems and personality quirks and hang-ups do not necessarily disappear. I probably do not look any different to anyone who knows me, but my day feels like it takes on a calmer and more pleasant undercurrent that wasn’t there to the same degree before.

  2. Jochen says:

    When the Heavenletters web site did not want to open for me this morning, I checked Chuck first and made my comment. Now, after reading today’s Heavenletter, I must add a big wow.

  3. Emilia says:

    That’s where you hide boys!
    Meditation is a practice I never felt comfortable with, thus never did it. But I feel at ease with “Observing” which is close to contemplation. But since I am not able to stop my thoughts, I have come to observe them too, they don’t make any sense often, just a messy crowd.
    I feel much at ease with all that is grand, majestic, absolute, glorious and all powerful…yes, I am easily and simply content with the best and with the fact that I am God.

  4. Mary O says:

    I also struggled with meditation for a long time before I could stop my thoughts. I used to not be able to fall asleep because I could not switch off my thoughts. I do not use words but just focus on my breathing. I have not meditated regularly for a few weeks because of having visitors and then going to stay with family. I must now get back into practice. I did find that it helped me to sleep better but at the moment I am sleeping badly again. I have learned to control my thoughts though and no longer dwell on thoughts of worry or self-criticism. The latter was very difficult to control. I do spend a lot of my day thinking about spiritual things. It is easy when you don’t have a job to go to and only housework and cooking to do. And of course looking after my daughter who is happy with her music and her soapies.

    • Mary, I am glad you found a way to develop a meditation practice that works for you. What I have found in my meditation experience makes me want everyone to have the benefits I receive from it. But I know this is not being realistic. I do keep hearing, though, that many try meditation only to be frustrated. This is why I wrote this article. What I didn’t share in this article was the big breakthrough for me that allowed me to finally calm my mind completely while maintaining some alertness. Some may find it useful to try a completely different approach if they are still struggling to find a meditation technique that works for them, so I will describe it here.

      * * *

      What I did was to mentally tie a specific, simple phrase to my breathing. I would sit in a comfortable, isolated setting and intend to not think about anything. Of course, at first my mind would continue its usual ruminations and pursue every thought that occurred to me. The key idea was that when I realized I was pursuing any thoughts, as I exhaled I would say to myself: “No think.” This phrase was a command to my mind that immediately wiped the thought train from my mind. When I first started to do this, I noticed a feeling of irritation every time I said “no think” to myself. I guess this meant I was pursuing all these thought trains because I got some sort of payback from doing so, or at least I thought I would. As time went on the irritation that had accompanied stopping my thoughts went away. I guess it was because it felt much better to relax than it did to keep pursuing the thoughts. Before long, I could sit there awake and alert and have my mind completely still without having to say the “no think” to myself any longer. Once I had developed this skill, all kinds of useful and wonderful things became possible. Not the least of which is the ability to consider an important problem in my life as I start meditation, shut my mind off and then to have a much greater clarity about how to handle this problem after my meditation was complete.

      * * *

      Sorry this is so long and it may not apply to you, but perhaps it will help some others like it did for me.

  5. jane says:

    Hi again Chuck…did not really know w hich category to post my ideas in, so am tucking them in here, and hope you will see this. I am thinking about the word BLUE PRINT, I cannot claim to be original on this topic, as my mother who has developed her own healing method, which is not a magic cure all BTW, as we are so complex, there seems so much to work on in each person, so she says, the blueprint must be healed corrected….. think about how when something is copied, often it gets changed in some ways..I am thinking of the child as a coloured picture, relatively perfect, and then as the child grows to the teenage years and so on, gradually the replication of the blueprint becomes imperfect, and then we start to become the black and white print, literally losing our colour, and the chakras, are colour, we are said to be made of light, which has different hues
    (colours -) so on a physical level, our bodies start to break down ,and we know this as ageing.

    I remember my anatomy teacher at beauty college a superb teacher, she explained ageing as the process of breaking down over takes the process of building up.

    were we really designed to age? if we did not die, there would of course be huge problems on planet earth with over crowding, but maybe its possible to just get older and remain very well and literally just cease to breathe when our time comes.? I am sure that could be possible, but only when humanity re awakens to what it has forgotten, and we are about as dummed down as we could get… Many are awake –but many are not!

    So can we make some sort of instruction to our blueprint so that its starts printing off our existance daily in a perfect way , so that we rejuvenate? Healers look at a wide variety of different topics, when they try to help us to heal, they may work on our subconscious belief system, (very powerful and important work for sure–) or they may do herbs and nutrition, and various hands on techniques, not of these though change our consciousness, perhaps the energy psychology does, or it helps to delete the programms that do not serve us, very important, but most people are not very self aware so, we need help to find out what is often right under our noses:)

    Some people try so many modalities, and yet they still remain unwell, and we have to really understand a lot more than most healers perhaps are aware of, to heal, each healer will give us perhaps a part of the puzzle to take away with us, but we must expect to put in lots of foot work ourselves, many just rely on the ‘healer’ or ‘practitioner’ thinking that they have the power to heal, no not at all…………but it may take some years for us to pick up on this fact.

    It worries me that it has to be so hard for us to heal, Some people seem to be relatively lucky , in that they have an innate strong and healthy body, no one I don’t think gets a problem free life, but they may be lucky and be healthy..and seem to have it all…

    We are for sure very complex being, and I believe in the near future, we are going to have a very expanded undersanding of what it really means to be a human……having a energy / spiritual experience in the 3d Physical body……..

    But meantime if someone figures out how to fix the blueprint, (it may have even been faulty when we came into our most current life, because for some strange reason we have to bring in stuff from past lives as well, does not really seem very fair to me, and I chose a pretty difficult life this time!!

    more thoughts soon:)

    Jane

    • Jane,
      This is as good a spot as any to place a comment. A comment on the most recent blog article will probably get the most attention from other readers, but I get a notice about every comment placed on my blog, so I never miss any, no matter how old the article is that a comment is placed on.

      I really like your blueprint metaphor and the idea from your teacher about the net balance between breaking down and building up our body. I do think this is how our body changes over time, how aging occurs and even one of the major pathways to healing. Our joints are a good instructive place to examine to see this dynamic. Our joint linings are constantly being damaged through normal wear and tear and our body is always regenerating this lubrication system. If we abuse our joints, or if we have some sort of problem inhibiting this regeneration, we develop “osteoarthritis” and our joints become painful and less functional. (Supplements like glucosamine work by speeding up natural cartilage regeneration and can actually make joints younger.)

      Beyond these physical processes, though, I am seeing strong evidence that our mind subconsciously directs the changes within our physical body. What we believe to be true about ourselves and the thoughts we hold in our mind send directions to the body. At every second of every day our body is forming new cells to replace old cells. It is what we are thinking and feeling at the time a cell is forming that directs its future efficiency and viability and governs its future functioning. Negative self talk and negative feelings create illness and infirmity. What is important to realize is that this is a very slow process and we may not be able to see it consciously because it is so slow. This is only one way to heal ourselves, but it is a very easy one to use if we have the faith to implement it. And it is fun. Being positive and uplifting and joyful and taking care of oneself emotionally and spiritually is a pleasant way to do things. If we can’t do these things we need to ask why and see if we can change this situation.

      Yes life is complex, disease and its causes are complex and the many healing methods seem awfully complex. What simplifies things a little is watching for what works. These are the things that you can rely on and have faith in. Having faith in a healing technique seems to often be the biggest hurdle.

      Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed it.

      Chuck

  6. Hi dear Chuck!
    I just detected this site. My deep esteem to you! It’ s great that you meditate such a long time!
    I’ll try that 15 minutes with this psalm 46:11 of the bible, because I do love this words too. I read about “be still know I am God” in a book from Eckhart Tolle. He says that you can meditate about every single word because each one is reflecting the truth. It must be powerful during Meditation.
    I feel this connection to my true self when I am out in the beautiful bavarian nature with my dog Mandy and listen to great Music. I feel it while doing Yoga-Meditation breathing. I feel it when singing in the choir. I guess to breath deep in my belly is essential.
    Love you!
    Uta

  7. Dear Uta,

    I am glad you found this article. Meditation is clearly one of the most important things I do each day. It relaxes me and greatly increases my feelings of closeness and appreciation for our Creator. I have found focusing on the inflow and outflow of breathing to be the most natural of meditation efforts. I like your emphasis on being in the woods. I am also found of sitting on an ocean beach as the waves roll in and gazing at a clear, dark sky.

    Thanks for your wonderful comments. Love,

    Chuck

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