Beginning a meditation practice

I remember when I first started a meditation practice. I had been diagnosed many years ago with a left bundle branch block—a benign rhythm problem in the heart that thankfully does not require treatment. I had always enjoyed good health, and I felt alarmed. As soon as the words “you have a bundle branch block” came out of the cardiologist’s mouth, I felt anxious and totally unprepared for a diagnosis of any kind. I immediately sought the help of a psychologist colleague who began to teach me relaxation and meditation to cope with the anxiety. Every day, as I now teach my patients, I spent 20 or 30 minutes just sitting quietly and repeating a comforting word silently. When my mind wandered, which it always does for everyone, I tried to bring my mind back to the focus of the word I was repeating silently. Although it was tempting to look for results, I avoided that temptation since all the books I was reading about meditation counseled me to stay in the moment. Over time, I began to feel calmer, more focused, and generally more content. I would designate the early morning for my meditation practice where I would sit in a comfortable chair in my living room and simply meditate and spend time with myself and my mind, which never seemed to tire of finding silly things to think about.

You don’t need any special equipment and you don’t need to ponder what word you are going to repeat to yourself. Attempting to find the “perfect” word is simply a form of distraction. All you need is a comfortable chair where you can sit upright in what I refer to as a “posture of dignity” and the absence of any noise or distractions. You can start at 10 minutes if you like and work toward 20 and eventually 30 minutes. Try not to be discouraged by your mind wandering since this this is totally normal. You will notice that the mind does not necessarily wander to brilliance but rather thoughts like “I need to go to the dry cleaners” or ” I should call Susan” or “What do I want for dinner tonight?”—just everyday thoughts that arise. Simply notice the thought and let it go as best you can. I frequently refer to seeing the thought as a beautiful fluffy cloud on a lovely summer day, and I watch it merely drift on by. By all means, be kind to yourself. This is a new practice that could change your life.

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2 Responses to “Beginning a meditation practice”

  1. Kerry Smethurst Says:

    Looking forward to trying the meditation. Interested in your group and would like to try it in the late spring.

    • dianedjohnston Says:

      Hi Kerry, I never received this email but I currently have a meditation group now. If you are interested, please call my office
      203-226-6688. I am so sorry I never got your message.
      Diane Johnston

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