Monday, August 01, 2011

Getting my OM on

According to the Mandukya Upanishad, "Om, or Aum is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it".

It is a Hindu sacred sound that is considered the greatest of all mantras. The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds a-u-m (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u combine to become o) and the symbol's threefold nature is central to its meaning. It represent several important triads:

•the three worlds - earth, atmosphere, and heaven
•the three major Hindu gods - Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva
•the three sacred Vedic scriptures - Rg, Yajur, and Sama
Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe

When I lived in Michigan I started having bad issues with insomnia. I'd lay in bed and no matter how hard I tried I just could not turn my brain off. I'd read, count sheep, listen to soothing music, exercise - anything I could think of to calm my mind or wear me out enough so that once I got into bed I would actually sleep.

When none of those things worked I decided to give sleep aids a try. Lunesta, Ambian, Rozerem, Melatonin... none of it worked. Some in fact had the opposite effect and made me jittery and agitated all night.

After weeks of not being able to sleep fatigue started having adverse effects on my ability to function and I was at my wits end.

Having tried every thing medical and physical I could think of and having them all fail, I decided to take a different approach and looked into meditation. After all, meditation is supposed to calm or still the mind and it was my racing noggin that was keeping me up so I figured what the heck.

I did a lot of research and reading on types of meditations, mantras to say or think while you're meditating, posture and hand positions that achieved different results during meditation. You name it I looked it up. After finally settling on the simplest technique I could find I decided I was ready to give it a go.

I will be totally honest - at first it was HARD. Sitting thinking about nothing isn't as easy as it sounds. Even in the quietest room in the most comfortable position thoughts bombard your mind. Did I put gas in the car? What am I wearing to work tomorrow? How soon do I need to go grocery shopping? How annoying was that jerk who cut me off in traffic today! If anything trying to quiet my mind made it want to get that much louder.

But I persevered and after a while I got the hang of it. The key is - not to try and not have thoughts, but rather to let the thoughts flow freely without focusing on them. Instead of zoning in on a thought and pondering on it or trying to force it away - you just acknowledge that the thoughts are there and let them flow past. After a while the thoughts get less and less frantic and eventually you'll notice that they've completely gone and you are left with a glorious peaceful quiet.

Anxiety, stress, sadness, sleeplessness! Pretty much any thing in your life that is having an undesirable effect on your emotions or attitude can be resolved with meditation.

It also helped me feel closer to God and creation. There are amazing things to be found in the stillness of a quiet mind.

I'd love to say I stuck with it and have reached a place of ultimate zen but unfortunately life gets in the way and no matter how good our intentions the things that are best for us often fall by the wayside.

Thankfully my husband is very serious and disciplined in his meditations, mantras and spiritual practices, and seeing his dedication is helping to motivate me to get back in to the ways of all things peaceful and calm.

My DailyOM is one of the tools I'm using to help me get my zen on. I stumbled across it on Facebook and so far really like what I've read. I'm a big fan of affirmations and positive reinforcement and this site has both - as well as educational information, meditations, classes and more. I'll be posting stuff from their site from time to time and hope you get as much from it as I do.

I'll wrap this up with a funny memory involving meditation and my little brother.

He'd been having a really hard time and was partaking in some less than healthy substances to help him get through those times. During a phone conversation one night I suggested that he try meditation to try and help him feel more calm and peaceful. Either I didn't speak clearly or he wasn't hearing clearly but the reply I got back was "Mollie - I'm trying to get away from drugs - not take more!"

Obviously he thought I'd said mediCation instead of mediTation. It was a funny moment during some not so funny times.

See - even if you're not practicing meditation it can bring you laughter.


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