By Brian King, CNS Wellness Committee
Corporate Network Services recently sponsored an” Introduction to Meditation” workshop as a Lunch and Learn session for company employees and customers at the CNS offices in Frederick, Maryland. More than a dozen people attended in person and via webcast. The Lunch and Learn was presented as part of the company’s wellness program called Your Wellness Counts. The wellness program has helped CNS win accolades as being one of the healthiest companies in the Washington DC market and a Best Place to Work.
Meditation is a practice of increasing our awareness in the present moment. It’s a way of untangling the distractions in our minds so we can experience what’s already present in our lives. The group heard about some of the many benefits of meditation including stress reduction, coping with illness or health issues, a stronger sense of peace and calmness, and increasing overall well being through harmony of mind, body and spirit.
There are misconceptions about meditation, such as the belief that there are right and wrong ways to meditate, when in fact any way is good, and that the goal of meditation is to empty your mind of thoughts when it’s better to simply have the intention to let go of thoughts and allow them to be as they are.
There are two main styles of meditation. Concentrative meditation is done by focusing attention on an object like the breath, a short word or phrase, or a sound or sight like a candle flame. The other style of meditation presented was mindfulness which is simply bringing awareness to your experience in the present moment and giving gentle attention to whatever arises whether it is a thought, emotion or sensation.
Regardless of which style you choose, there are a few things to consider when meditating. The first is choosing a physical position or posture. Sitting is the most often used method whether it’s on the floor, a chair or on the sand by the ocean. Walking meditation is also popular as it lends itself to time spent outdoors enjoying nature. Another consideration when meditating is choosing an anchor point or mental technique. Possibilities include noticing the breath, silently reciting a word or a short phrase, or focusing on a specific sensory experience like watching the flame of a candle or listening to the sound of running water in a fountain. Also available as a mental technique is simply sitting in stillness and noticing what thoughts, feelings or sensations arise.
The third and possibly most important consideration is the intention you bring to a meditation practice. While there are many benefits to meditation, most will be realized through a regular practice when you bring an earnest desire to explore your experience as opposed to making meditation simply another item on your to do list. Meditation is a gift we give to ourselves. It is time we take out of our busy lives to connect with the experience of who we are. It isn’t something that will be effective while multi-tasking other day to day tasks. Another important part of the intention we bring is to let go of expectations and the judgment that comes up from wondering if we are doing it right. We aim to cultivate a passive and open attitude toward meditation as there is no wrong experience.
After discussing the ins and outs of meditation, the group was led in a guided meditation to try out some of their new found knowledge. Attendees enjoyed the experience and expressed interest in learning more and striking out on to meditate their own. If you want to learn as well, here are some resources I recommend.