No right or wrong way to meditate

September 16, 2008

Meditation is about your own self-discovery. Learning to meditate is about discovering your own natural ability to shift into a way of being that is natural and effortless. It’s about finding what already exists in your own awareness. My goal with my guided meditations is to create a platform from which you can make your own discoveries, so there is no right or wrong way to do them. Meditation is a happening, not something that you do. However it happens for you is just right.

Yesterday I answered an email question making this point, and today I received a reply back which was so beautiful. It’s all about this very point, in this case as it applies to someone experiencing anxiety. I’m sharing part of the email exchange here because I think it might be meaningful for many of you.

Question:
“I have always had an interest in meditation and have known for some time that it would help me get over my anxiety and panic attacks but only in the last 3 months have I made it a part of my daily life and the results have been dramatic. Just knowing that the peace that meditation brings is available to me whenever I need it has made a huge difference to my day to day life and your podcasts have been instrumental in this. I really can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your life to do this for others.

However, the anxiety I feel often manifests itself physically as a tight chest and shallow breathing. During meditations I have found that focusing on my breathing when it is already laboured sometimes makes this worse as I become more conscious of the unpleasant sensation and this feeds the anxiety. My breathing does eventually become effortless but generally only when I take my mind off my breathing.

I imagine that this may be the case for others who suffer from heightened anxiety and would love to hear your views and opinions on the matter.

Thanks again for making the podcast and the website. It really has been a huge help for me to make meditation part of my daily life.”

Answer:
“Thank you so much for your open sharing of your journey with anxiety.  It’s wonderful …that you’ve made meditation part of your life. You are very welcome for the podcast — it’s so inspiring to hear from people with stories like yours!

These meditations are really meant as a springboard for the discovery of your ability to relax and enter a meditative state. Although we do have a Breath Awareness Meditation among the podcasts, and some other meditations refer to breathing, there are many that don’t involve awareness of the breath. Perhaps you’ll find that certain meditations are more useful than others at different times.  For example, when you are particularly anxious, the breath meditation may not be the best one for you. You can trust your intuition on this! 

And when you are doing a meditation you don’t need to follow the instructions precisely.  There’s no right or wrong experience or way to do them. They are there for your own exploration and discovery. You discovered that at certain times taking your mind off your breathing works best. You can trust yourself and do just that!”

Questioner’s Reply:
“Thank you so much for your reply. The fact that you said that there is no right and wrong experience and that the meditations are there for our own discovery really has helped me see the breathing issue in a different light. Even if my breath isn’t effortless then that’s ok because this is my experience and whatever happens during my meditation is right for me. I’d get frustrated in the past thinking that because my breathing was difficult then I was doing it wrong somehow. Of course you mention these things in your podcasts but sometimes you have to be told something many times before you take actually take it on board don’t you?

As I have realised many times since I started meditating, the relaxation and peace I’m looking for only comes when I stop frantically trying to find it. The first time I ever felt the complete peace that meditation can bring I felt so stupid! I’d been looking everywhere for this feeling during my anxiety and there it was all the time, quietly waiting for me to stop looking. Just that knowledge made all the difference.”



Inner Child Guided Meditation

September 6, 2008

I’ve had more requests for an inner child meditation than anything else. I haven’t done inner child work in any formal way as part of my path, and can’t be sure exactly what people were asking for when they made these requests. Nevertheless, the concept of the inner child speaks to me and I really enjoyed exploring it as I created this latest podcast.

The term “inner child” has different meanings to different people. Not everyone relates to this concept, but for those who do it can be a very useful concept for growth and healing. If you’re interested in the history of this term and how it’s been used in the past, check out Wikipedia. When I use the term, it relates purely to how it resonates with me and my experience.

As I’ve said before, when I record a guided meditation I am meditating with you. I go into a meditative space and a meditation happens which is just as much for me as for you. In creating the inner child meditation, I discovered a bit about what the inner child means to me.

As I meditated with you, I experienced some feelings which are very familiar, but most of the time are lingering under the surface. My adult becomes very busy with her life and often ignores these feelings which are inconvenient. To pay attention to what may seem like childish needs and hurts, and even the wish to express the unbridled joy which is also there under the surface, would take time away from all the things which seem so important in my day. And yet what is more important than attending to our deepest needs and feelings or allowing ourselves to cry those unshed tears that have been waiting for expression for years? What is more important than expressing childlike exuberance? I love to pretend I have on my tapping shoes and dance around just for fun. We don’t just find our unmet needs and past hurts when we connect with the inner child, we also find the source of our joy.

I have done lots of inner work, through meditation, therapy, and various healing modalities, yet the ethic of productivity and achievement have a strong momentum. I am not always as attentive as I’d like to be to my needs. Our culture prods us on to do, but doesn’t honor our need to be. Our culture doesn’t place a priority on nourishing the inner life. I’m thankful to all of you who requested this meditation. It caused me to take time to connect with some of the longings of my deeper self.

Whether you are already working with the inner child as part of recovery or healing or simply want to explore your inner life, I hope this meditation supports you. I would love to hear about your experiences with this meditation or any other work you’ve done with the inner child. What does the inner child mean to you? What experiences have you had with him or her?

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NOTE: We’re so sorry — we originally uploaded our Inner Child Meditation with outtakes.  If you are among the 12,000 people who have downloaded the first version, please check back for the correct version which is now available here and on iTunes.

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