Almost every Saturday night you will find me in the same place – meditation at my local metaphysical book store called Phoenix and Dragon. There’s a man there, Don Simmons, who hosts a guided meditation on different topics each Saturday night at 6. I think he’s wonderful at what he does.
When I mention going to meditation with me, most of my friends’ eyes glaze over. They give me a polite, Uh-hmmm (throat clearing), then a firm, “No thanks.” It sounds much like me when I am approached by friends with their network marketing “opportunities.”
Some of them offer explanations like, “I’ve tried mediation and I can’t stop thinking the whole time.”
I can only imagine what those people who give the firm no are thinking. Probably that I am locked in a sauna-like room with smoke rising over the rafters and Don’s voice a chant-like rhythm that will put us all under hypnosis. Maybe they won’t leave the same as they came in. This is my dream, but for others it may be a fear.
And for those that say they can’t stop thinking… well, that’s kind of the point. Meditation, the kind Don conducts, is called “Mindful Meditation.” You are meant to spend the time thinking, observing your thoughts and putting those thoughts aside to spend time in the present moment. We are thinking beings, after all, by nature.
What I really love about meditating, besides getting out of the hectic, hub-bub of my world and allowing myself to just sit there for an hour doing nothing but attuning myself to me, is that I often get “messages” that really help me in life.
For instance, I was having a hard time around my children not getting angry with them for everything. So I was in meditation thinking about this and asking for guidance. I was “told,” they can’t take it from you if you just give it to them. Just give yourself over to being a parent and accept that they are children and it will take some time for them to understand you and you to understand them.
That was good and fine and I left feeling like I had a solution. But it didn’t exactly work as I had hoped. Understanding is really too much of an abstract concept for me when I’m going crazy because my son has asked me for the fifth time if he can take a strand of Christmas lights to school for show and tell. At the same time I am trying to make lunches, get them dressed, answer my husbands questions about what I want to throw away in the refrigerator because the trash people are on their way, and I should have been out the door five minutes ago so they won’t be late to school. This is about the time my head pops off and I start yelling at my son, “No, no, no… you cannot take the lights to school. If you ask again, the answer is NO, if you ask again in 10 minutes, the answer will still be NO! Do you understand? NOOOOOO!”
So I went back the next week and explained this during my meditation. The understanding is not there when I feel I am so misunderstood, see? And the message I received was, Then you must choose. Every second, of every day, of every moment until time ends, you must choose. Every time you start to feel overwhelmed by your surroundings, say the word, choose, and then do just that. Decide what you want the moment to be.
And so I do. I choose. Sometimes I choose the moment to be one of chaos and I still yell and act like a person I’m not too proud of. Sometimes I choose to laugh at the craziness of it all. Sometimes I just choose a deep breath. Or I choose to count to 10. I choose to envision myself at the top of a mountain where wild flowers are blooming, or at a river that flows by me endlessly and effortlessly, flowing freely like I want my spirit to do, even in the hardest of times. In any event it is me who does the choosing, not anyone or anything else.
And in this tradition of choosing, this past Saturday, meditation was on a Hawaiian philosophy called Ho’oponopono (pronounce that however you like. If you giggle at the way you say it then you have pronounced it perfectly). It is a process where a person takes 100 percent responsibility for everything.
Don likes to say at the beginning of this practice, “Notice how when anything happens to you, the common part of it all is that you are there.” Then we all give a quick, nervous giggle. Taking 100 percent responsibility for all things in your life, and beyond, is a fairly tall order.
During the meditation, there are four statements repeated over and over. They are, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you. You say this to yourself, to loved ones you may have issue with, to acquaintances, and then to the world at large. By taking responsibility you gain compassion and release anger you might have at believing something is being done to you rather than something you have control to change.
Taking responsibility gives you the power to change anything you are not happy with in your life, even when you believe you do not have the power. And don’t mistake responsibility for blame; that is covered too. It’s not about blaming yourself; it’s just saying the mantra I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you. It is about observing happenings and circumstances without judgment.
I left this meditation feeling changed. Knowing that the control is in my hands and feeling much more compassionate for my fellow man.
While I was there, there were no smoking rafters, I didn’t lose myself. And I did have thoughts, many of them. I wondered if my children were at a restaurant running from table to table while my husband yelled at them to sit down. I thought about how I really should have stopped by the grocery store for that bread we are out of. And, I thought about what I would eat for dinner once I was done with this meditation. Each time I thought, I put it aside and went back to my breath. Breath in, breath out, I said. Then somewhere along the way, the thoughts stopped and it was just me and my breath and the sound of Don’s voice guiding me to forgive. Forgive myself, forgive my fellow man, take responsibility for my life and know that I am one with something much bigger than me.
If you are interested in learning more about:
I’m sure there are many others available that I do not know about. But if you Google, Metaphysical Book Store and your city, state, you will probably be surprised at your options. And if you don’t have one, there are many CDs available, including Don Simmons’s at Phoenix and Dragon.