My dog Henry lunged at the dog food as it left the scoop and fell towards his bowl. I hate when he does this and immediately corrected him. “Sit, Henry, Sit.” He sat and I continued putting the food in his bowl. He waited for me to release him with an okay and then started eating.
Later I was thinking about this in context of my own meditation practice. I really just wanted to tell myself: Sit, Ann, Sit! I have not maintained any sort of continuity in my practice and even though I know it will benefit me, I still have not done anything when really all I need to do is just sit. Of course if it was that simple, we’d all be doing it.
A few weeks ago, I ran across Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project, which she started last year to help people learn meditation. Starting in June, in addition to the free, ongoing instruction she offers through the project, there will be a more in depth training for what I think is a very reasonable annual fee.
I have been following along since I signed up for the newsletter and have found her style both appealing and accessible. I’ve already turned a few friends on to it.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, since starting Civil Civil Servant I have had people ask me about meditation and while I have taught a couple of people some very basic techniques, I mostly encourage them to try a meditation class. You don’t have to go to a Buddhist organization to learn meditation. Some folks learn at a yoga class, or take a course through community education or learn in a stress reduction class. I think it’s nice to have an ongoing instructor because sometimes things come up in your practice and you have questions.
The instruction offered through the Open Heart Project is quite good and because it is something you learn online, you don’t even have to feel uncomfortable in front of other people. I have felt uncomfortable going to a new place to meditate; so, I know that feeling. This let’s you try it out in a safe, easy way.
So. Check it out. It might be the introduction to meditation you’ve been hoping to find.
And if you need a good reason. Maintaining a meditation practice in study after study has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve symptoms of depression, help control chronic pain, improve immune system function, lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Studies have connected meditation with improved ability to concentrate, improved sleep and reduction of memory loss as one ages. It can help you with substance abuse problems, depression and hyperactivity. And really, the research in this area is young. We are just starting to learn all the startling and significant benefits.