“Time is money.” This American motto has been influencing our way of living ever since the invention of the “production line” and “piece work.” The faster we go, the higher the profits. We have evolved into a civilization of speed and hectic living: working to produce more quickly; eating on the run; driving fast to keep up with traffic; instant satellite communications and extraordinarily fast computers. Even the movies and cartoons depict our conditioned, hectic paradigm of thinking. People want fast action or they are bored.
We have been forced to learn to cope with this hectic modern way of living by the use of psychology, drugs, television, entertainment, religious beliefs, etc. Recently, meditation has been used and recommended by physicians and psychologists as a way to relax and regain our energies.
While meditation is an ancient spiritual practice, it is one of the more powerful forms of relaxation we have today. Health improves beyond expectations when we learn to let go of our tensions by sitting quietly on a daily basis. It also provides an opportunity for awareness, direct self knowledge and peace of mind. We may come to experience directly our own true nature, our spirituality if you will, with or without religious beliefs. Even our relationships are greatly improved as we begin to be aware of the way our minds work and how we create unnecessary stress.
It is recommended that we sit in meditation twice a day, beginning with ten minutes at each sitting and working up to forty or forty-five minutes. Perhaps you may be thinking , Oh, but that takes too much time! True, it takes time, but everything we do is within the confinements of time. For instance, taking time off from work to recuperate from stress-related illness takes more time; besides, when we return there is all that work waiting for us. When we are so stressed by our hectic schedule or our relationships that we must see a psychotherapist, that takes time. Of course, the easy way out is to take a drug. There are enormous drug industries supporting our hectic way of living: these in turn must produce fast and sell fast to maintain the profits. It is a merry-go-round!
Meditation does not have to be just another way to cope. It can be used to learn how to relax our body/minds, as well as to gain insight. This is accomplished by simply sitting straight on a chair, or on a pillow on the floor, allowing muscles to relax, letting all thoughts go by (as on a TV ticker tape); being aware of the stories the mind weaves and the preoccupation it holds; then letting go of all of them. Some people use a technique of following their breath, counting from one to ten over and over again.
Silent retreats are another form of relaxation. These may consist of periods of relaxation (I always tell participants to sleep all they want) contemplation in nature (take time to smell the flowers) and cooperative work in silence. There is a concealed power within silence, and silent activities that awaken and rejuvenate. People who give themselves the time to retreat several times a year and/or practice the ancient/new way of meditation daily, begin to experience a healthier way of living, where the hectic pace no longer predominates.