Do you know what an elevator speech is? It is a very brief, succinct telling of whatever topic you choose that is completed in the short time you are on an elevator. This article is my meditation elevator speech.
I enjoy conceptualizing meditation in three ways. There is the spiritual path, the psychological path and the career or professional path. The practice is the same for all three paths, but our cognitive stance changes.
Some meditation authorities and most spiritual authorities insist that the purpose of meditation is connecting with God (however you imagine God to be) already present within each person. St. Augustine famously stated in his Confessions that “My soul will never rest until it rests in thee, O Lord.” So, one description of meditation is simply “resting in the Lord.” So, it is experiencing the Divine Union, experiencing God’s presence within rather than thinking God. Psalm 46 says, “Be still and Know that I am God.” In secular terms, Eric Fromm in his classic work The Art of Loving explains that we are all saddled with separateness and that we have an inborn or innate drive to overcome our separateness. Visit www.contemplativeoutreach.org for information on Christian meditation.
There is widespread recognition and acceptance that any form of meditation promotes relaxation and relieves stress. The pioneering Harvard research physician, Herbert Benson, empirically validated this proposition in his iconic book, “The Relaxation Response.”
But the more profound and substantive result of daily meditation is strengthening of the ego. Effortless transformation accrues as the meditation practitioner achieves a gradual quieting of the mind and a deepening relaxation. There is an accompanying, experiential and cognitive realization that I am okay just as I am. I do not have to do anything to be delightful just in being.
This pure delight just in being becomes firmly rooted in the practitioner’s identity and becomes more unshakeable over time and with continued practice. This is not to say that there are not occasional train wrecks or derailments. But when they inevitably occur, the emotional injury is less intense, and recovery is more rapid.
In our culture, we tend toward being “Human Doings” rather than Human Beings. Daily meditation enables a healthier balance between being and doing, working, and playing, relationships and busyness.
Another critical aspect of increased ego strength is the development of self-valuing as opposed to being dependent upon being valued by others. This is not an absolute proposition. We need others. We need validation from others. The ideal is a healthy balance of self-validation and self-acceptance, while also receiving validation, acceptance, and valuing from others.
A related benefit is greater trust and belief in oneself. This falls under the umbrella of possessing an internal locus of control instead of having an external locus of control. ELC people tend to rely on others to tell them what to do. They live in an “I don’t know what to do” bubble. Parents who over-function create ELC children. Parents who facilitate self-determination, self-reliance, and self-confidence in their children produce ILC adults.
Regardless of the type of career chosen or the level of responsibility attained, taking time for daily meditation will enrich one’s work life by opening the mind to the richness in the mind. When faced with a career decision of any type, we first do a brain search with our conscious mind. We may also do research by consulting with others, Googling, or reading relevant books and articles. We may reach a decision using our conscious mind.
If we are unsuccessful using our conscious mind, relaxing deeply as in any form of meditation opens the metaphorical door or window into our unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind contains everything we have ever experienced, and it will effortlessly “bubble up” answers to whatever issue we are wrestling with. As new, creative, “outside the box” solutions come into your mind, they must first be evaluated. If they make sense, if they fit just right, the second challenge is to trust yourself rather than second guessing yourself. Naturally, when a new idea or perspective pops into your mind that is unsuitable, discard it.
When thoughtful people at any level of authority meditate daily, creative solutions emerge, enriching the individual and the organization. Albert Einstein insightfully said, “No problem can be solved by staying in the same level of awareness that caused it.”
Many people find daily meditation to be undoable for myriad reasons. If you wish to try it out, here are a few guidelines. Choose a time when you have energy. Choose a place where you will not be disturbed. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Sit comfortably with your back straight. Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. Repeat a one or two syllable word over and over in conjunction with your breathing. When your word ends, stay with your breathing. Eventually, your breathing will disappear. When intrusive thoughts inevitably arrive, return to repeating your word. The main benefit to daily meditation is your enhanced ability to navigate the rest of your day, staying more centered, more observational, more calm, more thoughtful.
A most enjoyable, lighthearted yet substantive read for people who want to meditate but have difficulty doing it, is Just Sit by Elizabeth Novogratz and Sukey Novogratz; a valuable, informative read extending beyond the rewards of meditation.
I hate to admit it, but I guess you would need an exceptionally long elevator ride to give all of this speech. The condensed version is experiencing Divine Union on the Spiritual Path, acquiring Solid Self or Ego Strength on the Psychological Path, and Career Fulfillment on the Career Path. Obviously, there is much more that could be said and needs to be said.
Dr. Jim David is a retired psychotherapist in Silver Spring, MD. He now does Personal, Spiritual and Executive Coaching. Visit his website at www.askdrdavidnow.com or email at [email protected].
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