Meditation: Old vs. Young

Most of the blogs I write require some research into the subject I am writing about.  Even golf articles, I will research certain ideas, to see what other people’s opinions are.  This blog will be an exception, in that I will be writing and discussing strictly from experience. What does old vs. young mean.  It is the long standing belief, of the older generation that the youth of today, have it easy,  are lazy, and in fact are not very intelligent.  I grew up hearing this from my elders, and about 4 years ago I experienced the other end of the spectrum, when I heard some of my former classmates from high school, talk about today’s young people.  They particularly hit hard on the intelligence of the  younger generation.  One  was a former school teacher, so I guess she felt that she should know.    How did all this get started, where the older generation thinks that the younger generation, has it so much easier than they did.  Besides that, it seems that this type of thinking can pervade everyone’s thinking no matter what the age of the person. There is the old saying, the grass is always greener on the other side.  I think that should be changed to the grass is easier to take care of on the other side.  Let’s look at my experiences with this.

I grew up having the best father a child could have.  He taught me how to play baseball, golf, and bowling and he taught me well. He spent many hours with me and to this day was my main mentor in life. He taught me more about life than any person I have ever known, and I will always be grateful.  But even he fell into this analysis.  When he thought I was being a shiftless 10 year old, he told me that when he was 10, he and his brother laid a concrete sidewalk around and through his parents property.  He gave me other examples of how tough things were doing the depression, and how easy I had it. One can hear stories like this, even if the age difference between people is not that great.  When I was in the 5th grade, I would hear from my older friends how much harder the 8th grade was.  When I was in veterinary school, I heard how much harder it is out in the “real world” when I would be trying to work for a living.  But you know what I found out? It was not harder but just different.  As you grow older, and go through life, things are changing, you make adjustments and most of the time things will work out.  Life can give you some harsh blows, with the loss of love ones and health issues.  These things in life do not make you stupid or lazy or less than the older generation.   Of course, this goes in the other direction where young people think the older generation, is feeble, losing skills, out of touch, and is taking up space where younger people could do a better job.  As I moved into my 30’s and 40’s and had my own successful veterinary practice my father gave me more credit and respected my work ethic.  But he put that moniker on my daughter’s generation as the ones who were now the lazy group, and their life was now too easy.  He was saying the same thing about that generation, that he had said about my generation, but it looked like I had turned out pretty well.. I wonder if he thought he had a hand in that, because of him telling me how lazy I was as a youth.  I really don’t think he thought that way.

So why does the older generation think the younger generation is going to screw up the world with their bad attitudes, laziness, and lack of intelligence. Maybe because the older generation, has already screwed up the world, and it makes them feel better to think that the next generation, will do it worse. This  breaks the basic rule of meditation.  People do not look within, they look at outside of themselves, to make decisions, and evaluate the world.  We all have had crosses to bear.  Some have had it harder than others and some people have been able to overcome great odds to have successful careers and lives.  Some of their stories have inspired many people to create a better life.  But each of us has to look within, to see what we can do to make our life better and more enjoyable. At times, this is not an easy task, no matter who we are or where we come from.  One of the things that will not make our lives better, is to compare.  That is essentially what one is doing, when it decides a generation is lacking, or a part of society has had it easier. In some cases your feelings and thoughts  maybe close to the truth. The bottom line is, that  is still not helping you to make a better life for your self. Stop caring and evaluating what that other yard looks like.   Look within and figure out what your next move will be, no matter what your age or status.  The outside world does not need your judgement on the future.    Start meditating and young people will improve, without having to age.

Meditation: Management

This blog will follow a pattern of many future meditation articles. This article will not have any thing to do with the process of meditation.  As you know, despite all the benefits of meditation, it is not done by the majority of North Americans. What I hope to show, is some of the things that can  happen, because of a lack of meditation.  The world has a wide diversity of people, views, and attitudes.  There  seems to be very little common ground, for the world inhabitants.  But there is one thing that  almost everybody seems to do, and that is to consume.   We are called consumers.  There are magazines, Consumer Reports and Consumer Digest, which will make you a smarter consumer.  There are people and companies that provide these goods and services, that we consume. Naturally I am a consumer, just about everybody is.  I have also been a provider of goods and services for around 44 years.  I have owned and run a business for about 28 years, and I have worked for various companies and institutions for the other 16 years. So lets look at these two factions of people, and see how they compare. Remember, some people do both, and some are just consumers ,depending what their job may be.

The consumer wants to get quality goods, and quality service at a good price.  Most consumers will do research to get that result.  They may make dozens of phone calls, and solicit many opinions from friends and relatives, before making a decision.  Obviously, some consumer decisions are bigger and more important than others.  I am not going to consider purchasing a home because that can be a life decision with many factors involved.  The next biggest consumer decision is purchasing a car.  We all want to get a good deal, because this will be our most costly decision, except for buying a house.  Next, will be furnishing and maintenance of your house and car.  Then, there are the more every day consumer decisions, of where and what to eat, movie to go see, sporting event to go to, clothes to wear, etc. etc.  In all of these situations the consumer just wants to be treated fairly and with respect. Some may want more than that, but most people know that every body has to make a living, and there is going to be a cost involved in any purchase or endeavor.  They want the provider to be a least polite, respectful, and listen to their questions and concerns.  They want the provider to be knowledgeable and have their best interest in mind, beside trying to make a profit.

Now we come to the provider.  Remember all providers are consumers, but not all consumers are providers, and that could be the first problem, but I don’t think so. What is  the big problem with providers?  Once they become the provider, they seem to forget what it’s like to be a consumer, even when they just stopped to get coffee on the way to work.  Watching other management teams work I see two major flaws.  One, they make no efforts to cut costs.  I mean absolutely none.  I guess they try to make up for this by paying low wages, another major flaw.  I was in a business that provided both goods and services.  I made sure that the goods I acquired to sell were at the best price I could get them. This took time and effort.   I have never seen another management team do that. It was a top priority in the business I owned, to keep costs down.   I paid my employees well, and they in returned provided good service.  Other companies I worked, paid low wages and had very high turnover rates, and  basically poor service.  It still boils down to the provider forgetting, that once he closes his doors he will become a consumer, again.  It is that inability to put oneself in the other persons shoes just for a little while, that seems to be at the heart of the problem.  I know that seems to an overly simple view of the subject, but sometimes the solution to a problem can be that simple.  If we can get in the consumer mode, when we are providing a good or service, then the interaction should be much more satisfying for both parties.  Just imagine that we are buying this service from our selves.  Could it be that easy?  My answer is a resounding yes.  Could meditation help us  to see what the other person is going through, and experiencing.  Another resounding yes. Can the same thing be said in reverse.  Yes, maybe, sort of.  As a consumer you can try and put yourself in the provider shoes and realize that the person does have to make a living, but if you are unhappy in the least with the goods or services, then just move away and move on.  In every situation, there are more choices to made in consumerville.  Don’t be lazy, go make them. Don’t be that over demanding consumer, who wants something for nothing. It is a two way street. Try  meditation, and see if it doesn’t make you a better provider, and a better consumer.

Meditation

Even though there are hundreds of books and apps on Meditation, many of them do not go into the breathing method to use when meditating. There are two kinds of breathing.  The first type is chest or tension breathing.  This seems like the “normal” way to breath.   When you inhale your chest expands and on the exhale your chest contracts.  If you pay attention to this, you will see that this breathing does create tension.  The second kind of breathing is abdominal or relaxation breathing.  When you inhale, your belly does the expanding and when you exhale the belly contracts.  Pay attention to this type of breathing, and you will see it is more relaxing.

The best way to experience relaxation breathing is to lay flat on your back on a hard surface, like the floor, and place your hands over your belly button.   Just try to relax a little bit, and then start to breath.  You will see that in this position, it is almost impossible to breath, except to allow your abdomen to expand on the inhale, and then it will naturally contract on the exhale.  You will also find that your breathing is deeper and fuller.  Even though you are laying on a hard surface,  as you continue to breath this way, your body will become more relaxed.  Just continue to take nice deep belly breaths, and you will begin to experience true relaxation of the various parts of your body.  Then start to concentrate on each section of your body. It does not make any difference whether you start at your feet, and work your way up to the top of your head, or the other way around.  I like to start at the feet.  Relax your feet, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs.  Then once you feel like your lower extremities are totally relaxed, then start with your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and upper arms. Once the upper extremities are totally relaxed, then work on the trunk beginning with the lower back and upper buttocks.  Work your way up the mid back and the upper back and shoulders.  Once that is relaxed, then relax the neck, lower jaw, cheeks, the eyes, forehead, and finally, the top of the head.  Once you have the entire body in a relaxed state, try and maintain that for 5 minutes. This will get  you about half way through a good meditation.    Then it’s time to explore your inner self.

There are many ways of doing this.  You can just try and go inside yourself.   You can create an inner sanctuary or a relaxation  place.  This could be a lake, the ocean, or a mountain and river scene. But think of a place that will enhance  this relaxed state that you are in.  A place where you have felt relaxed in the past.   Getting to your inner self can be quite rewarding but also scary, as you may finds things that you may not like about yourself.  This is a very personal journey, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.  It may take many meditations and months to begin to get inside yourself, and see what makes you really tic.  It will still be up to you, to go in a different direction or continue along the same path you have always gone.   There is no right or wrong here, either.  You just become aware of the things that have enabled you to be where you are now, and you then decide if you should change, or continue down the same path.  The biggest thing you become aware of is, you are exactly where you want to be, right now, even though it may not seem like this is what you want.  You are totally in charge of your life, if you really want to be.  Sometimes, and I have experienced this,  you really don’t want to be in charge.  Simply, it is  much easier to look outward and blame, rather than looking inward and accepting responsibility.  Good luck.

Meditation

Now that it has been established how important meditation is in life, how do you get started. Before we get to that, I thought it would be a good idea to get a solid definition of meditation. After looking up the definition of meditation, I am not too sure now, that it was such a good idea. It seems meditation is hard to define. Who would have thunk it? Wikipedia states scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions, and within them. Let’s look at five sources and see what they said. The Merriam-Webster dictionary states it is a discourse intended to express its author’s reflections or to guide others in contemplation. The Medical Dictionary has a definition. A practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth. Dictionary.com states meditation is continued or extended thought; reflection, contemplation, devout religious contemplation, or spiritual introspection. It comes from the Latin word thinking over. Cambridge English dictionary says it is the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as way of becoming calm and relaxed. Finally good old Webster defines meditation as a practice in which an individual trains the mind, or induces a mode of consciousness either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.

What is my take on all these definitions? It means that you can do pretty much what you want when you meditate. I do not see anything religious in meditation. It should be a personal endeavor and religion should have nothing to with it. If you want to put a more religious aspect to your meditative practice, then that is fine, but don’t feel that it is a necessity. Meditation has been associated with various philosophies and historical individuals. Again, something that is not necessary to incorporate, to meditate. If you want to follow someone’s meditative practices or guidance, that is good, if this is what gets you started or keeps you going in meditation. There should not be any goals in meditation except to relax and look inward. The benefits listed for meditation will just happen and in some respects can be overly optimistic, just to try and get you to meditate. Most of the definitions make meditation feel like a thinking process which in my view it is not. Yes if you are going to look inward and see your true self some thought is going to have to be involved. One of the purposes of meditation is to calm the brain and stop the thinking on the outside world. Now that we have , let’s say a working definition of meditation, how do we get started.

Although fear is the biggest reason people do not meditate, the other big excuses are time and I just can’t sit still for 20 minutes and think of nothing. Most likely these people are right. But I bet they can not run a marathon, do 100 push ups, or play golf in the 70’s if they have never golfed. Meditation is like any endeavor, you must start small and work your way up to big. When I started to meditate, I began meditating for one minute. That was it. I could do that, and I could do it every day. You can start even shorter than that if you want. Thirty seconds, 5 seconds even, it does not matter. What matters is you do it, and then slowly but surely increase the time every 4 to 7 days. How fast you go, is up to you. When I started, I increased my time by one minute every 5 days, and then when I got out to 8 minutes, I increase by increments to 2 minutes, until I reached 20 minutes. This took about 10 weeks to do. Even though there are many how to books and apps on meditation, I am going to give a few basics to get started. First, getting into that comfortable position. Your meditation position can be anything you want. You do not have to get into to that semi-lotus cross legged position to meditate. You can sit in a chair, or couch, and even lying down is a perfectly good position to meditate. The only danger in lying down to meditate is falling asleep. If you are starting from scratch, and follow the above advice of only meditating for one minute, that is highly unlikely. The best way to start is to count your breaths and I believe in always counting the full cycle breath. One count for every inhale and exhale. Next up we will discuss breathing in a relaxed way, and getting to know your inner self, get started please.

Meditation

Meditation, a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  I have been meditating for 26 years.  I can say that it changed my life.  I believe that it is something that every one should do, and is essential to living the best life that you can.  I did not say that it would solve all your problems, and let you live a perfect life. I think that most of the benefits you read about are overly optimistic.  Meditation, according to many sources is booming right now, with almost double the amount of people meditating, compared to 2012. There are meditation apps and thousands of books on the subject.   The estimate is about 14% of the people in the U. S. meditate.   What if I told you that 14% of the population drinks enough water to survive.  That 86% of the population dies of thirst.  Water is essential to life.  Your first thought would be what is wrong with those people.  Everyone knows that you have to take fluid in to survive.   In my view meditation is the same.  Obviously if you don’t meditate, you are not going to physically die, but your life will not be as full, and your soul will whither away.  I know that may sound strong but it is what I believe. So, why don’t more people meditate? The most common reasons you read about are not enough time, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work, it’s an eastern thing, and I just can’t do it.   I believe that there are only two real benefits to meditating and one of those is the reason that people do not meditate.

The first benefit of meditating is, it allows your body to totally relax for the 20 minutes that you are doing it.  I feel 20 minutes is the minimal time that you should meditate.  There are a lot of apps and articles now about how 10 minutes a day may benefit or have the same benefits, but I am not in agreement.  It is just an excuse to try to get people to meditate who say they don’t have the time.  What is amazing, is that just allowing the muscles of the body to relax for 20 minutes is all the time the body needs. It will help you have more energy and you will feel more refreshed if you meditate daily for 20 minutes.  People seem to confuse relaxation with sleeping.  They think that when I sleep my body is completely relaxed.  When you sleep you toss and turn and dream.  Your mind is still active and this can keep the muscles stiff and tense.  Dreaming can cause more issues than real life. Besides relaxing the physical body, meditating can relax the mind.  The mind can relax doing meditation, but it also can serve another purpose during meditation, which becomes the second benefit of meditating.

The second benefit, is that it makes you look at your inner self.   It makes you look inward to what makes you tic, and why you are where you are, in whatever stage of life you are in. The vast majority look at the outer world to evaluate their lives.  We have bad relationships, our job is no good,  the economy is bad,  our luck is bad, and just about anything else that someone is doing or not doing that we perceive is keeping us from reaching are goals and having a full life. This give us comfort, and blocks us from taking responsibility for where we are at the present moment.  Meditating can make you look at your inner self and it can be very scary.  It takes real guts to take a good look at how you function and why you are in the circumstances that you are in.  That is the number one reason why people do not meditate.  When you look inside and see the person you are, it can be quite disconcerting.   All those perceived benefits from meditating,  relieving stress, helping manage anxiety, helping with depression, increasing your immunity, better sleep, relieving IBS symptoms ( I had to throw that one in there), and improving your over well being, is still not enough to over come the fear of finding out your true self.  There is one site that lists 76 benefits of meditation.  Wow!   It’s always tough finding out things that you may not like about yourself, although that is the only way you are going to improve your life.

Even though I have been meditating for 26 years, I have had my ups and downs with meditating. I started in 1993 and was consistent for about 18 years. Then around 2011 I began to feel that I did not need meditation as much anymore, and began to skip days. I felt this way because so much good was going on in my life, that meditation was not as important. I was wrong. Over any life you make a lot of mistakes and do things you wish you had not done and maybe if I would have been more diligent meditating I would have made some better decisions over the last 6 years. Over the last 6 months I have gotten back on track and do feel much better. Meditation is something that is essential to living and every person that is breathing should do. On the next meditation blog, I will give some tips on how to get started. This is not really a how to blog. There is tons of apps and books on the subject, but I will go through what I think is good and what is just salesmanship on the creator . In future blogs I will discuss situations not really related directly to meditating but come about because we live in a non meditating world.