Breaking Free From American Meditation

Although meditation has been around for centuries, only recently (in comparison) has it become mainstream in the United States. That said, like with all good customs and traditions that have set foot in our great country, it’s not too long before that particular “import” gets a healthy does of Americanization.  Arguably, the American influence tends to enrich and bring new perspective to those things foreign. Not so with meditation. As per the cliche, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, the practice of meditation was perfect even before the first American learned to chant Om.

Susan Reimer, in her recent Baltimore Sun post, speaks to the difficulty most beginning meditators face when starting a practice. According to Reimer, in traditional American culture, meditation doesn’t have much of a place. There is no right way to practice and certainly nothing to be achieved (except for maybe being).

Meditation requires only a seat in a quiet spot, but there is lots of meditation help out there. There is guided meditation in which the voice on the CD or on your iPod talks you through. Concentrating on the instruction helps to shut down at least part of your mind.

And there is music that is perfect for meditation. It not only sets the mood, it helps you concentrate if you try to follow the notes or the voice. And there are sounds to help you meditate: the ocean, rainfall, a brook, birds. Saying prayers or the rosary can be a form of meditation. You can simply follow your breath, in and out.

Meditation has another side effect — besides a healthy resting heart rate or a lower blood pressure. It teaches something called mindfulness — the ability to be in the moment wherever we are, whatever we are doing. A kind of zone in which we are only aware of the person or the task in front of us.

Read more meditation tips and insight from Reimer here.

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