Recently, I admitted to readers of my blog at www.tulsakids.com that the first time I ever meditated was while watching Deepak Chopra on an episode of The Dr. Oz Show.
Don’t laugh. Enlightenment comes to different people in different ways. Mine came via television set.
Benjamin was only a couple of weeks old. He was jaundiced and not eating well, which scared me and also stressed me out because it was causing my already low milk supply to drop even further.
Meanwhile, Isaac’s honeymoon period with his baby brother was quickly coming to an end, and the sweet little boy who once doted on his younger sibling was becoming increasingly aggressive, toward both Benjamin and me, in his fight for attention.
I was exhausted, frustrated and stressed. I was nursing Ben when Chopra began leading Oz’s audience in some deep-breathing and meditation exercises. I followed along and was surprised when, immediately after, I felt calmer and more at peace.
I was a convert to the ancient practice of meditation, and it was all thanks to a daytime talk show.
Before that moment, it had never occurred to me to meditate. Part of the reason is that I have a really hard time sitting still. Also, I had this notion that meditation was this complicated thing that had to be done a certain way, and I didn’t care to bother myself with learning how to do it.
In fact, there are countless ways to meditate and really no wrong way.
In his book “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You,” Chopra explains meditation by saying, “Meditation involves the search for a level of awareness that isn’t conditioned. It takes the mind in its restless, confused state and leads it to a higher state that is clear and steady.”
Chopra practices and teaches transcendental meditation — specifically, a program developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called TM-Sidhi. In transcendental meditation, one of the most widely practiced meditation techniques, one uses a mantra to achieve a state of restful alertness. By silently repeating the mantra, one may refresh both the body and mind.
There are various other techniques of meditation associated with each one of the world religions — Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity are all religions that practice and promote meditation as a means of achieving spiritual enlightenment — and there’s also secular meditation, which is used solely as a means of calming the mind and supporting health and wellness.
Chopra offers some easy techniques for meditation, derived from TM, in “Reinventing the Body.” The one that I’ve found to be most effective goes like this:
“Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Gently put your attention to the tip of your nose. Breathe in and out normally, and as you do, feel the air flowing through your nostrils. Envision your breath as a faint cloud of pale golden light going in and out of your nose. Feel the soft energy being carried by your breath. Let it relax you and still your mind, but easily, without forcing anything to happen. The process will take care of itself. To help keep your attention from wandering, you can add the sound ‘hoo’ as you exhale.”
An important point that Chopra makes is, when meditating, it’s not enough to sit in silence. It’s about actively silencing your mind and leaving your confused state (one I find myself in often) and transcending to one of peace and relaxation.
Meditation is one of those things that is specific to the individual; your technique will vary based on your goals. I do recommend the practice, though, for anyone who, like me, often finds herself stressed and frustrated.
(And if you’re curious about the Doctor Oz episode that changed my life, go to www.doctoroz.com and search “Deepak Chopra.”)