Regular meditation is said to result in brain growth. However, developing a regular practice is another matter. For years I have found establishing a regular meditation practice very challenging. So many circumstances and excuses come in the way.
Let us see ways in which we can motivate ourselves to establish a regular meditation practice. Of course the first question would be ‘How to Meditate?’ There are plenty of resources to answer that question.
In the last few years Mindfulness Meditation has become very popular. It is the practice of being present with whatever is manifesting within oneself in the present moment. The first sign that the practice is having an effect is that you find yourself to be calmer and less stressed out. However, wonderful that might sound for us these days, I have been interested in going deeper into meditative practice.
In the course of my explorations on rewiring my brain to establish a meditation practice I have been studying a lot of books on Zen teachings and Zazen meditation. The Zen teachings go far deeper than physical well-being when talking about meditation and this I find very helpful.
To deepen my zazen or ‘just sitting’ meditation practice I signed up for a weekend retreat. Synchronistically I found a chapter in one of the books I was studying called ‘Why Go On a Retreat?’ in the book titled: Meditating Selflessly – Practical Neural Zen by Dr James H. Austin. Dr Austin is a clinical neurologist, researcher and Zen practitioner. Definitely a person worth listening to. Hence I thought I might share something that you, the reader, too might find helpful. He says:
Reading words on a page is an ‘armchair Zen’ approach. That’s OK. But are you completely satisfied with your Self, the ways you relate to other persons, and your direction in life? Few are. One remedy is authentic meditative practice. Can Zen practice become such an agency of transformation, help you restructure dysfunctional traits? Yes, but only when first you set aside the time to identify what your problems are and then take the time to examine them objectively. A Zen meditative retreat offers the opportunity to do just this.
The retreat I am attending is not exactly a Zen retreat. However, it is one that is going to be held in Noble Silence and is a non-residential retreat. Let us see the reasons for going on a meditation retreat.
Why Go On a Rigorous Meditation Retreat?
There are many benefits for going on a rigorous meditation retreat. They are:
- It is an opportunity to foster personal growth and responsibility
- Encourage participants to reach beyond their limitations
- Being challenged physically and mentally, you will emerge inspired by a fresh sense of what you are capable of.
- Your body-mind will be learning a range of new skills and at levels much deeper than mere intellectual knowledge.‘As is the case with other procedural learning skills, these subtle residua tend to linger in the form of a quiet competence.’
- Your body-mind will no longer by diverted into another noisy day of mindless multitasking.
- You will have the luxury of silent time.
- ‘During first-hand, direct experiences with the aches and pains that afflict your physical Self, you will relearn how much your emotional Self – you own resistance – is responsible for your suffering.’
- You will also meet other opinionated extensions of your psychic Self.
- When you enter into a retreat, you become a team member in a web of interrelationships.
- Having decided to share in the community responsibility of this support group, you make more intensive effort than you would when you meditate at home by yourself.
Dr Austin suggests signing up for a one-day retreat to begin with and then go off for a weekend retreat. He says, ‘Keep reaching out of your comfort zone.’
Expect parts of your psyche and body to put up a stiff resistance. It’s been said that the only person who truly welcomes a change is a baby with a wet diaper.
In 2004 I had attended a 9-day Vipassana retreat in India. Recently, in 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in a 2-week course on ‘Mind Training Through Awareness’ conducted by a Theravada Buddhist monk. All these experiences had been very inspiring and eye-opening.
I am now off on a 2-day Noble Silence Meditation retreat. I will share my experiences once I get back. I will also be designing a 40-day Meditation challenge to help myself and others like me to establish a meditation practice. If you would like to receive regular updates and an upcoming Free e-book on ‘3 Quick Tips for a Healthy Brain’ then join follow this blog by signing up a the top right corner of this page.