IGNITE YOUR LIFE: “Meditate Each Morning” by Sarah Gish
I was a kid when my parents took poet and counterculture guru Allen Ginsberg to NASA at his request. Dad was a German professor at the University of Houston and had invited Ginsberg to speak to the UH students following the success of his book Howl. I wasn’t invited to tag along on the car trip but years later, my dad recounted that Ginsberg sat lotus-style and chanted “Om” the entire way to and from Clear Lake – his way of elevating the energy surrounding the space program, something he looked upon as wasted government dollars. The mighty powers of meditation burned off Ginsberg’s anger before it even had a chance to lift off.
“Meditate each morning.” is the third way to ignite your life in my “IGNITE YOUR LIFE!” art project and community campaign (www.IgniteYourOwnLife.com) and the word associated with this concept is “MEDITATE.” Meditation is powerful indeed: research has shown that meditating at least 12 minutes a day improves your memory and concentration and a consistent practice can cure a host of ills while improving brain activity, physical health, and spiritual connection.
I specify morning meditation because for many of us, if we don’t get our meditation in first thing, it gets lost in the chaos of the day. Deepak Chopra encourages an “RPM” meditation practice: “Rise. Pee. Meditate.” I find that meditating first thing in the morning sets the tone for the day and gives me a calm base to which I can return throughout the day.
So how do you start this practice? If you wish, return to the wisdom of Allen Ginsberg. He’s got a hilarious video called “Do the Meditation Rock” -- “The first thing you do when you meditate is keep your spine, your backbone straight. Sit yourself down on a pillow on the ground or sit on a chair if the ground isn’t there. Follow your breath, right out of your nose, follow it out as far as it goes.” In my daily routine, I start out by ringing a bowl, finding my breath, and focusing on one word for 15. I then think of at least one person to pray for, one thing to be thankful for, one thing to let go of, and one person to forgive. I throw in a little journaling or an inspirational reading and then I’m done.
Well-known Houston yogi Jennifer Buergermeister first fell in love with meditation when doing a silent retreat at which the Vipassanā method was taught – a method which focuses on the breath in a deep way. She learned it at the Dhamma Sirī Southwest Vipassanā Meditation Center (www.siri.dhamma.org), a place which offers free pay-it-forward retreats.
If meditating in community (silent or not) is your thing, there are plenty of places to practice meditation in Houston. Tibetan Buddhist Center Dawn Mountain (www.dawnmountain.org) has a full calendar of offerings including “Yoga for Meditators” and a group meditation on Sunday mornings and “Kind Mind, Happy Life” for kids 4-8 years old. The Health Museum (www.thehealthmuseum.org) offers mindfulness meditation classes for adults and kids 6-12 years old as a perfect way to connect the body’s physical, mental, and spiritual health. Micki Fine (www.livingmindfully.org) is our city’s mindfulness guru and she offers a regular schedule of classes and workshops and groups as well as free intro meditation sessions. And if you’d like to enjoy a silent retreat that’s perfect for intensive meditation, look into free overnight personal retreats at the Cenacle Retreat House (www.cenaclesisters.org) and the Ruah Spirituality Center at Villa de Matel (https://sistersofcharity.org/ruah-spirituality-center/).
“Meditate each morning.” Is one of my twelve ways to ignite your life daily – ways that, if followed, will stave off depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. Being ignited for your life does that.
Sarah Gish is the founder of IGNITE YOUR LIFE. Igniteyourownlife.com and the publisher of GISH PICKS: Culture for Kids & Adults. Gishpicks.com.