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By Luis Hernández


The healing powers of meditation

I remember, years ago, when I registered for a four-day meditation course with a friend. It was called “The Practice of Meditation” and it was going to be given by an Indian monk. My friend and I were very excited and for weeks, we spoke about how our lives would change by the end of those four days. We would enter into deep states of meditation at ease and would even float in the air; our minds would stop thinking and ALL problems in our lives would be over.

Big mistake! How disappointed I was! My body remained on the floor like never before, and my mind went nuts. I never imagined how hard it would be to be seated, just doing nothing. If you read again what I have written so far, you will notice that the first five lines are full of misconceptions that prevented me from enjoying meditation and life, in general:

  • The course was called “The Practice of Meditation.” As its name says, meditation is practice, practice, practice…just like any exercise or anything else in life. You cannot expect to learn French or Medicine in four days, so why would meditation be different?
  • Meditation is not about stopping your mind. The nature of your heart is to beat; the nature of your eyes is to see; and the nature of your ears is to hear. Likewise, the nature of your mind is to think. You cannot ask your heart to stop beating; and in the same way, you cannot ask your mind to cease thinking. What you learn in meditation is how to let your thoughts go by without judging them and just let them be.

You cannot prevent your mind from thinking, but you can change the way you relate to your thoughts. It is said in India that if you try to fight against your mind, your mind will ALWAYS win. So, one of the things I learned the hard way was that I had to listen to the needs of my mind and soul instead of torturing myself. Each person is different, and we have to honor and love ourselves exactly how we are. There are people who can sit for a long time to meditate from the very beginning. I just couldn’t. I started with 5 minutes a day, then 10 minutes a day, and increased the time naturally. I just followed my mind’s lead.

This is key: Go with the flow. Just for five minutes, I would allow a “good” thought to be there without paying attention to it. Just for 5 minutes, I would allow a “bad” thought to pop up without judging it. In meditation, you don’t stop thinking. That is simply impossible. You let your thoughts pass by without suppressing or encouraging them. During those five minutes, I would just sit there, enjoying my company, without judging me.

That is when my life changed. I began to notice that whatever happened in those 5 minutes would transpire my entire life. I learned to befriend and treat my mind, the world, and myself with respect. No, I have not figured out a way to float in the air; but I embrace life the way it is and flow with circumstances. I have not acquired magical powers; but I have developed the clarity to know when to act to change something I do not like and when to refrain from action.

My problems are the same and did not change after those four days of the meditation course. They haven’t changed during all these years of practice. But I have changed the way I relate to them. You can learn to flow with the circumstances of your life the same way you flow with your thoughts during those golden 5, 10, or however many minutes. Life is beautiful just the way it is, and that’s what meditation has taught me.