Here we are at the first day of the May Meditation Challenge. I look forward to see how meditation will aid in my daily life. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I know that studies have shown that meditations can help alleviate a variety of health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Meditation can make a person calmer and happier as it effects brain waves. This shift in the brain waves aids in decreasing “the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear” (1). Other key benefits of meditation include increasing concentration, becoming more aware of yourself, and just simply slowing down your body and mind to help you relax. No matter what your religion, meditation can benefit your spirituality, by benefiting your life.
As stated in an earlier post, I am not properly trained in meditation. For this reason, I am going to use a guided mediation that helps one focus on specific body areas known as chakras in Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism meditation practices. As I gain the ability to concentrate longer, I will continue my meditation and focus on Theravada Buddhism meditation practices. These practices include: Anapanasati (focusing on breathing), Metta (cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness), Vipassana (meditation that aids in insight into the true nature of reality), Mahasati Meditation (form of mindfulness meditation that uses body movements to bring about self-awareness), Kammatthana (a complex advance meditation), Samatha (another complex advance meditation used for concentration practices designed to enhance sustained voluntary attention, and culminates in an attention that can be sustained effortlessly for several hours).(2)
The chakra guided meditation that I will begin with is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs_DuZigRzY and attached below. The chakra meditation is a 10 minute video that aids in being aware of specific body areas of circulating energy from the base of the spine up to the crown of ones head. It helps in refreshing and energizing ones body. So, take 10 minutes out of your day today and meditate.
“In this very one fathom long body along with perception and thoughts, I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the end of the world.” – Buddha (3)
I had a great time hearing about my followers and friends adventure in completing. Together we can make a difference. Even though Earth Day has past, it does not mean that we should stop caring for our environment. I still plan to clean the area around my apartment from time to time to maintain the cleanliness of my home.
So what comes next? What will the May’s challenge be? This month, I am going to challenge myself, but you are more than welcome to participate, to meditate every day for 30 days straight for at least 10 minutes a session. Everyday in May, I am going to post a quote from Buddha and/or Jesus in order to help motivate myself. Since I am untrained in meditation, I am going to use a guided chakra meditation. Chakras are not Buddhist, however the idea of focusing on specific body parts to increase meditations are Buddhist in nature. I am hoping that within time, I will be able to change and learn more about meditation so that I can use other forms of meditation including true Theravada meditation, which is sitting in silence.
May you all find the courage, patience, and understanding to join me in my journey to increase our mindfulness, concentration, tranquility, and insight. If you are a Christian, increasing your mindfulness, concentration, tranquility, and insight can help you to gain a better understanding of God and yourself. If you practice another religion or do not practice at all, meditation can also aid you in decreasing anxiety and stress in this highly stressful world. So join me in the month of May for May Meditation.
This is a great day to complete the April – Earth Day Challenge. Go to the top of this page and click on Current Challenges to learn more about this challenge.
Buddha’s teachings explain the need for us to live in balance with the environment and that we are all connected. The trees, the animals, all living things are connected. Therefore, as we destroy the environment, in a way, we are kill part of ourselves in the process. Buddhism speaks of balancing between over-consumption and self-discipline. In society today, we would refer to this concept as sustainability or using only what we need and avoiding depletion of natural resources.
The difficult part of sustainability and cleaning the environment is that it takes more than just one person. It takes all of us doing our part to help. We need to work together as a team to hold our world up. We all need to eat sustainable foods. We all need to clean our neighborhoods. We all need to be responsible.
So, here is the challenge again… Get out there and do your part:
I challenge everyone to leave for work a little early at least one day this month and pick up the trash from home to work or vise versa. For example: I walk 0.5 miles one way to work. I am going to take a glove and a grocery bag (reusing) and pick up all the trash one my side of the street instead of doing my usual which is looking at it and saying to myself that I should pick it up. Another example: One may take the train or their car to work/school. One could take a glove and grocery bag and pick up the trash from work to the train/car and then from the train/car to home. I would love to hear some comments on how it felt to do something good for the world and others. Leave your comment here or you can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a walk with my partner and complete the April – Earth Day Challenge that I made with my blogging world a while back. We grabbed a plastic grocery bag and began my daily walk to my work place, which is 0.5 miles (850 meters) from my apartment. Along the walk, I picked up papers, tissues, bus passes, and many other items that were next to the sidewalk, while my partner encouraged and aided in picking up the garbage. At first,it felt awkward to be outside walking along the sidewalk picking up the trash. I felt as though people driving by were staring at me thinking I was crazy. Within about 5 minutes, I became unaware of others that were around me. I had my partner with me and we just started talking while we were picking up the trash. It began to really feel good to help the neighborhood clean up its landscape. As we were cleaning up some papers, a 40-year-old woman walked up from behind us. She stopped up and asked,
“What are you guys picking up?”
“We’re just picking up the trash” I answered back.
She began talking to me about how she believes that people learn about littering or not littering (respecting the environment) at an early age. We discussed how we are surprised by the amount of trash that is on the ground in such a beautiful neighborhood. She said she believes that the trash comes from cars. We continued to discuss how there are trash cans on every block in this neighborhood and how it is saddening that people do not just throw their garbage in the cans. She ended our short conversation with a, “You should be commended.” I thanked her and continued picking up trash. By the time we finished the half mile, I was holding one full grocery bag full of garbage from just one side of the street.
This experience left me pondering a couple of questions…
– Why don’t people just throw their garbage in the binds where it belongs?
– Why don’t others pick up trash? Is it due to fears of germs? Is it due to fears of being seen by others? Is it just pure laziness?
I would love to hear about your thoughts on my questions and on your experience picking up trash for this challenge…
May God bless you and Buddha’s teachings guide you throughout your life…