calibrate: v 1 “make fine adjustments for optimal functioning”
When I first came across the concept of meditation, like many people in our busy society, I thought it was an incredible waste of time. I mean, after all, it simply required one to sit there and be seemingly “unproductive”.
This all changed after a fortunate series of events brought me to meditation. I met an amazing rock climber in Kentucky, and when I asked her for the secret to her skill, she replied “Yoga”. I immediately took up yoga afterwards, and after doing it a number of times, I noticed the incredible calmness I experienced during shavasana, or the final relaxation pose after a strenuous stretching session.
Meditation in Extreme Situations
If you like extreme sports, chances are you’ve cleared your mind and have had conscious meditative states already.
When I was outdoors rock climbing, especially on difficult and high problems, I became intensely focused on the climb, to avoid the unpleasant feeling of a fall if I made a mistake. Though I would never do a climb where my partner and I weren’t very safe, a big fall is still harrowing nonetheless.
At the time, I couldn’t explain it. All I knew was that I was focused immensely on my next immediate moves, and afterwards, could only explain it as “becoming really connected with nature.” The same could be said if I was white water kayaking a big rapid or speeding through the tree runs on my snowboard.
For a while, I was addicted to these sports, particularly rock climbing, because when I was dangling on rock faces high above the ground, I actually forgot about all my problems. I was in the moment. Focused on every movement. The only thought held in my mind was the climbing route. It might seem to be a rather extreme way to forget one’s problems, but at one point in time, my mind was running around like a headless chicken. My “problems” really bothered me a lot – I would be thinking about them before I got on the climb and after my climbing trip was over.
Could it just be adrenaline then? Nope. What I noticed was the adrenaline high – represented in the form of the gung-ho cries and a huge grin of satisfaction – always came after I finished the climb, landed the jump, surfed the rapid, etc.
Of course, the caveat of finding presence through an intense situation was that once my climbing trip was over, the gears in my mind started rotating, and my problems came lurking about again.
Silence is a source of great strength.
– Lao Tzu
Returning to my experience with yoga, I noticed that shivasana felt very much like like the focus I had when I was climbing. I then realized that I could have that intense present focus at any time, without having to be 1500 feet above the ground or doing an hour of hot yoga.
So why meditate?
The Small Stuff Become Insignificant
Our mind is bombarded with information these days – way more than we can ever process in a thousand lifetimes. We are constantly processing new information and filter it poorly. On top of that, our lives have ballooned in complexity with tasks to do which probably aren’t important and worries that probably will never materialize.
We know they’re stupid little things. On their own, none of them have that much impact, and yet the sum of them can be a cause of great stress. Meditation shuts off the valve on all this mind chatter and gives us back control of our minds.
The solution to all of life’s problems can be found through meditation.
– Wayne Dyer
The Big Stuff Becomes Small Stuff
We’ve heard it all before. We live amongst billions of people on an ordinary planet, near an ordinary star out of trillions in the universe. Or, in the cosmos of time, our lives are but a heartbeat.
Often times, conscious understanding of our limited time on earth does help put our problems into perspective. At other times, we are so self-absorbed in our seemingly huge problems that we can’t see how small they really are. When emotions run high, logically rationalizing their insignifcance can be difficult.
People who have gone through near-death experiences usually get this shift in perspective, but do we really need a life changing incident to get us back on track?
Meditation brings us into awareness that those seemingly large problems are just our life situations, but not life itself, as spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle puts it. When we separate ourselves from our external circumstances, we can then free ourselves from worrying or frustrating ourselves with a particular circumstance in our life situation. We are then able to use that free energy to either deal with them better or let them go.
The Path to True Happiness
Without peace of mind, even with the pleasant external conditions, you will not experience happiness. It could be mulling over your divorce while on a beach in Hawaii or envying someone’s Porsche while rolling in your new BMW. True happiness can be found when you free yourself from identifying with your external circumstances, good or bad, and see the joy that is in life itself.
Meditating on concepts such as forgiveness, gratitude, and peace are all excellent ways to bring true happiness into your life. In essence, you are training your mind to be in a state of true happiness at all times, even when the worst comes before you.
The concept of consciousness is being embraced as more and more people become familiarized with it. If you are new to the term consciousness, it essentially means to become aware of your thoughts more often, if not at all times.
It is also synonymous with the terms “awakening”. Conscious direction of our thoughts puts us in the driver seat. With this control of our mind, life becomes very enjoyable as we no longer live in a reactive state. We can choose our thoughts, and thus also our emotions and behavior patterns.
Meditation is perhaps the ways to become a conscious human being. Unless you come from an remote jungle tribe, you’ve likely grown up in a society bombarded with negative news, advertisements previewing the fast life, violent TV shows, and so on. You’ve been surrounded by unconscious thinking and reactive behavior, both in yourself and others. Of course, you’ve felt something wrong with the way you’ve been thinking or you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Remember, you’re not meditating to escape your external circumstances or life situation. You’re putting it into perspective. You’re recalibrating. You’re recalibrating until nothing is that big of a deal, big stuff or small stuff.
Just dive in and give it a shot. It might take a few tries to get the hang of it, but once you do, the benefits will be immediately noticeable. Click here for some tips.
Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in life has a purpose.