October 30, 2014

Transforming Distractions with an Open Heart.


Cultivating a meditation practice is one of the most important things we can do for our brain.

Neuroscientists at Harvard have been studying the benefits of meditation since the 1970s. Some benefits include; decreased stress, increased happiness, higher quality of life, lower blood pressure and better memory.

Still the actual practice of meditation can be uncomfortable, anxiety provoking and chaotic.

My husband has taken up a daily sitting practice and he mentioned that lately it has been much more challenging, and that he would like a Ganesh for the alter.

Ganesh has roots in the Hindu religion and his image is found throughout India as the bestower of good fortune and new beginnings. He is also known around yoga circles as the remover of obstacles both material and spiritual.

I have always looked at Ganesh as a reminder to welcome obstacles rather than resist them, reminding me that obstacles can be teachings and they will eventually pass.

My daughter has a mini Ganesh. The kids love the playful looking elephant from India but when she heard that her dad wanted a Ganesh, we made a plan for her to give it to him the next day for his morning sit.

She placed the small gold figurine in his hand and then, not wanting to leave her murthi, she proceeded to scramble around the dark room preparing a space for herself.

Over the next several minutes she collected blankets, bolsters and meditation shawls for her bed. As she settled into her yoga-propped nest she suckled her thumb, let out a moan.

When the meditation timer dinged it signaled us that our 20 minutes were up.

My plan to create a peaceful meditation for my husband failed, but while it was failing I had such profound love for the welcome distraction, of my daughter, that was scurrying around the room.

I wept with joy because I realized it is not the distractions in the world that are our problems, it is how we receive them.

It is through our own expectations that we close our hearts—with the expectation of what a mediation practice should look like.

If we welcome the distractions with an open heart we transform them.

Through all-the noise, the sorrow, the anger, the sunrise, the happiness. As St Francis of Assisi said, “What you are looking for is what is looking.”

The most important benefit science is showing regarding meditation is an increase in gray matter in the brain, causing us to be less “self-centered” and more compassionate.

We are the ones that close the door or let it fly open to greet the world.

It is all God when you look with an open heart.

Meditation has many amazing benefits for the mind but the most important reason to practice is so yoke the mind to the heart.


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Author: Dani McGuire

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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