Meditation, a word that has such intense, overwhelming, and untrue connotations attached to it, that it's true nature and definition are not only forgotten, but hidden beneath layers and layers of misconception.
When most people hear the word meditation they envision someone sitting on a small cushion repeating a mantra, like Om, over and over. Or they believe that to meditate they must have a clear mind void of any thoughts or feelings. Or they believe that it must be done over long periods of time, hours or even days.
Mostly, people hear the word meditation and immediately think: not for me.
And yet, I strongly believe that meditation would help everyone live happier lives, and would help create a better society and world.
Meditation is actually one of our most natural human abilities. I am sure that you have had moments in life where you are are not thinking or analyzing your experience, but simply living in the moment - and in these moments you are not attached to the past or the future, and there isn't any separation between you and your true experience. That is quite simply meditation.
Maybe it was the first time you rode a bike and you were so immersed in the experience of balance and movement that you were living totally and completely in the present.
Maybe it's every time you go for a run in the early morning hours, and the way the light plyas in the trees, and the way your feet sound hitting the pavement, and the way your breath guides and propels you, that you are totally engaged in the moment.
Maybe it's when you were at the concert last summer and you let go of everything else and were totally one with the music and the crowd around you.
Meditation is not a time of limiting your experience, it is a time of total engagement with what is relevant.
And this is probably where a lot of confusion comes from - the fact that meditation can be done in many, many different ways :: standing, sitting, in stillness, through movement, eyes closed, eyes opened. Meditation can be simply observing your breath as you lie in bed, or preparing dinner alongside family, or dancing, or... the list goes on.
As Yoga Journal put so perfectly, "When the mind is able to focus on what is relevant to what is happening now, we experience ourselves as being at one with what we perceive. This experience is deeply joyful, as we become freed from the illusion that we are separate from everything else in the universe. In fact, meditation isn't a withdrawal from life but a deeper, fuller presence in life."
The beautiful simplicity of meditation is that it doesn't matter the technique in which you employ, but the journey and the result. The clarity and the connection. The true engagement with life just as it is.