One of the biggest changes for me in the past few years is that I’ve taken up a daily meditation practice.
It has downright changed my life!
It has changed things so wholeheartedly and profoundly for me, that I want to share it with you.
In case you’re curious about meditation. Or have dabbled, but haven’t found the discipline to maintain a daily practice yet.
It started in the fall of 2012. I’d meditated before but had never committed to a daily practice.
I’d attended a couple of 10-day and weekend Vipassana retreats and did the occasional sit on my own, but that was about it!
I just couldn’t grasp how to carve out 30 minutes a day when there were SO MANY OTHER THINGS to do. Oh yeah, and we had a two-year old!
I have Leo to thank (my husband). He was in the midst of changing jobs and decided he wanted to get more grounded spiritually so he could make wise decisions and NOT come from a place of fear (ever the wise person he is!).
He came upon a course being offered as an introduction called “Passage Meditation”. Once he finished it he announced that he was going to start getting up 30 minutes earlier every morning to meditate. I admit, I laughed in his face! No way was he going to do that with our toddler chaos.
Well, I ate my words. He did do it and not only that, but I couldn’t believe the change in him over the next couple months. He was so much more calm and clear and able to approach situations thoughtfully… I had to get on that train!
I don’t know if I could have jumped into a daily practice so quickly if I hadn’t had someone in the house already doing it. Seeing all the benefits modelled for you is a powerful motivator. If this is something you want to start, I highly recommend finding a mentor or cheerleader until your own practice is established. It’s a game-changer!
We continue to practice Passage Meditation because it is simple, highly customizable, and perfect for modern day times.
Here’s the premise - you choose some passages, or texts, that inspire you and you recite them in your mind. That’s it!
The idea is that although it’s illuminating to focus on your breath, that our mental noise is just too strong of a distraction. If we give the mind something simple to hang on (like a passage), we’ll have a lot more success in training our focus.
This practice is ancient, and was revived by Eknath Easwaran who wrote a book called “Passage Meditation”. It contains all the instructions necessary to get started. He recommends starting with sacred texts because they’ve stood the test of time, any tradition is fine.
But really anything inspiring or motivational will do. It’s important that it resonates with you!
I love this because it’s like music in that you can create your own collection of passages to learn. It’s like your repertoire. I keep mine in a special journal.
Here’s where it changes your life.
As you recite the passages in your mind, they gradually sink into your consciousness. You find as you go about your day, when you run into snags throughout life, the words start to rise up and support you through your difficult moments. They become like guiding principles in your life.
Research proves that meditation can change your brain.
Passage meditation is an effective way to do that because you are literally reprogramming your brain with the passages you memorize. You can even address specific issues based on the passages you choose.
Let’s not forget the Divine.
There is so much more to meditation than focus. Cultivating a relationship with a deeper omnipresent force has been the real benefit of my practice. That’s something I’ll dive into in another post.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to get started with Passage Meditation.
1 - Use a timer! The one on your phone will do fine. It frees up your mind to truly focus on the meditation and forget about how long it’s taking. Some days it will fly by and some days it will drag on eternally. Oddly enough, it’s always the same duration. 🙂
2 - Be (somewhat) flexible with yourself. If you are really hustling to get out the door one morning, allow yourself to sit for 20 minutes instead of 30. Or even 15. But most days, try to do 30. You will come to cherish that time. Any minutes are better than no minutes when life goes sideways.
3 - Be inspired. Allow the vast repertoire of spiritual traditions to inspire your passages. I have a special journal I use for keeping mine and add to it regularly. It includes Christian prayers, Buddhist sayings, Bhagavad Gita passages, Rumi poems. I don’t consider myself a member of any of these religions, yet I learn from them all.
4 - Keep a journal. Things will come up no doubt along the way. Document these things for further inquiry. Be open to breakthroughs around old patterns, habits, or mindsets.
5 - Easwaran recommends deepening your practice by doing spiritual reading before you go to sleep. At first I thought this was overkill, but after trying it out I see the value. If you are meditating in the morning, doing spiritual reading at night brings you back to that grounded place before drifting off to sleep. It reinforces positive messages which can have a good impact on the quality of your sleep.