Monday, February 11, 2013

Michael Sieverts is a brain cancer survivor since 2000. He is the instructor for Cancer Support Community’s qigong classes in the parks. Roxbury Park classes meet every Tuesday & Thursday from 10:30a.m. to 12 noon and at Clover Park every Monday and Friday from 9:30 to 11:00a.m. Free to all those affected by cancer. Call 310-314-2555.

There are many forms of meditation, and choosing one over the other is a matter of personal preference. I happen to like mindfulness-based meditation, as promulgated by Jon Kabat-Zinn—the tone of his advice is just right for me and many others, but it might not be for you.  You might prefer a meditation technique that utilizes a mantra, like Transcendental Meditation, or any of the other forms. No matter—you can use any one of them to deeply explore your consciousness.

The key thing to remember is that learning to be in the present, in the now, is both utterly simple and very challenging. It can take a lifetime to learn. Even the Dalai Lama says that he’s still learning.

There’s a reason they call it a practice:

When we are giving ourselves the experience of being relaxed, calm, alert and objective, we are practicing and perfecting mindfulness. When we are being tense or angry or anxious, we are practicing and perfecting being those states as well—BUT, if we are observing that we are going to those places while we’re doing it, we have the opportunity to take ourselves back to the relaxed place. It’s ultimately about cultivating an inner strength.

I’ve heard the distinction made between prayer and mediation is that when you pray you’re talking, you’re asking for something—and when you meditate you’re just listening. Some people call it “falling awake.”

There’s a huge body of literature, and courses offered everywhere, many for free.

You can study in classes, and go on retreats, which are great, but ultimately the idea is to be able to live your whole life with a mindful aspect. As my teacher says, “lead an ordinary life and make changes from within that life.”

Don’t let your environment throw you off, cultivate inner strength and the ability to not let your mind wander.

Reading List and Web Resources:

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Library) by Pema Chodron

The Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center offers several different meditation options for its members.  All classes are at no cost to participants.  1)'Meditation' every Thursday from 6 - 6:45pm with Malcolm Schultz, LMFT; 2) 'Mindfulness' from 11:30a.m. to 1:00p.m. once a month on Monday (date varies check calendar) with Lisa LaCorte-Kring, LCSW; 3) Relaxation/Visualization every Wednesday from 6:00 to 6:45pm with Christal Trink; and 4) 'Mindfulness Series' with Lisa LaCorte-Kring offered throughout the year, check calendar or call 310-314-2555 for information.

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