The 500 pound gorilla

George_Koury_print mediaAre you tired? Overwhelmed? Do you have so much to do that you can’t ever seem to get it all done? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you are probably too damn busy.

Virtually everyone I speak with these days, including clients, friends and strangers say some version of, “I’m so busy!” It seems in our modern culture we are all suffering from the disease of being spread too thin. There are a thousand and one distractions to pull us in as many directions. Cell phones and other mobile devices, television, work can all draw us away from ourselves.

In my informal survey of folks, I hear from more and more people that they are not sleeping enough, exhausted, distracted and feeling like they no longer own their own lives. Does this sound familiar?

Busyness has become a contemporary disease. It might be killing us, or at least, contributing to us leading unhappy lives.

Do not despair. There is help on the way. Here’s the catch: You’ll have to spare about 23 minutes a day. Can you do that? Are you willing to set aside 23 minutes a day to become really happy? Here’s the magic solution I’m offering: Meditation.

I’ve heard just about every objection you could imagine; “I can’t afford the time to meditate.” (Well, you might not be able to afford to not meditate.) “I don’t know how to meditate.” (It easy. The great metaphysical teacher and author, Eric Butterworth was fond of saying, “If you know how to worry, you can meditate!”

I have been meditating for many decades. I used to be a bundle of nerves and anxiety. Since meditating, I’ve become calmer, happier and more productive.

Statistics about the benefits of meditation are really impressive. Meditation has been successfully applied in the treatment of conditions like insomnia, anxiety, addiction, anger, attention deficit disorder, tinnitus, fibromyalgia and cancer. _1

Meditation has been shown to strengthen the immune system and also reduce health complications related to hypertension.

Meditators have shown to reduce symptoms related to negativity, unhappiness and depression. _2

Are you intrigued enough to give this a test run? There are many local meditation classes you can attend. There are also CDs available to teach you.

Here is one of many techniques. This one is simple. Find a place where you can sit comfortably with a straight spine. Be sure you are sitting at a place and time where you will not be disturbed. If you are able, sit with your arms and legs uncrossed. Most people sit with their hands in their lap, with palms either facing up or down. Some folks like to dim the lights and close any shades or bright windows as it becomes easier to focus inwardly, which is the goal.

Take a few leisurely breaths. Take your time. No rush, no hurry. This time is yours.
As you breathe in and out, allow yourself to gently observe your breathing. Do this without trying to change anything. If you notice any sounds in your environment that are distracting, do you best to let them go. You can pretend that each negative thought is a balloon. If you find yourself holding onto one, you easily let go of the string, and watch it drift away, leaving you free. Allow yourself to be in the present moment to the best of your ability. Let go of the past and present. Just continue to observe your breath as it moves in and out. You will eventually start to see that the distracting thoughts fade and you move into a space of great peace and quiet.

Sit for 20 – 23 minutes a day. You can certainly do more. Experienced meditators often do one sitting in the morning and one in the evening.

Do not be misled by the simplicity of this process. Yogis, saints and sages have been doing this for centuries. I’ve discovered that almost every area of my life has improved. I attribute this directly to my meditation practice. I’ve become healthier. My relationships with people are very harmonious. My mind is sharper and my intuition and creativity have become heightened.

If you are experiencing any of the negatives expressed at the beginning of this article, I encourage you to attempt meditation. And I sincerely hope that you will experience the fullness of benefits from its practice.

You might just find yourself getting happy for no apparent reason!

1_Details about the applications and research on meditation can be found at the website for the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University:

2_A Lutz, LL Greischar, NB Rawlings, M Ricard and RJ Davidson, Long-term Meditators Self-induce High-amplitude Gamma Synchrony During Mental Practice, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, November 16, 2004, volume 101, number 46.

The entire contents of this article, photos and column is copyright © 2015 by George Koury. Not part of this may be used without written permission from him.

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