Mandalas and Meditation

This is a painted stone mandala. It’s a fun, satisfying craft that isn’t too hard once you figure out how to make the dots round. All it takes is acrylic paint, a rock, and pointy things like toothpicks and knitting needles to make the dots.

A mandala is a design that represents the universe. It can also represent the vibrations or sounds that make up everything in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a nice idea, and I enjoy looking at them. However, I wanted some design ideas, so I found a book of Buddhist mandala art at the library. It was rather creepy, with fiery devil guys and weird blue ladies. I think I’ll stick to mandalas made of geometric shapes.

There are a lot of aspects of Eastern philosophy and medicine that are very intriguing and useful. Meditation is one of them. There are many different types of meditation, but they all aim┬áto train your mind. It’s easy to see a picture of someone sitting in lotus, motionless, with their eyes closed, and think meditation is pretty weird. Really, it’s mind training. Just like you learn to read, walk, and talk, you had to learn to think. Just as people can develop poor posture while walking, it is also possible to develop poor posture in your thinking.

I understand that if your “thinking posture” is doing fine, meditation may seem like a waste of time to you. But if your posture is a little out of alignment, meditation can perceptibly “straighten out” your thinking. As with physical posture, I think many people don’t notice when their mental posture is a little slouchy, or even when it is totally out of alignment.

I have been meditating for about ten minutes in the morning and in the evening, and it has been very helpful to me. A little time goes a long way while meditating. All you need is a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, and a guided meditation soundtrack with earbuds is helpful (there are plenty on YouTube).

My favorite types of meditation are mindfulness meditation and loving kindness meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves becoming very aware of your own body and of your thoughts, while abstaining from any sort of judgement. Yoga incorporates some aspects of this technique. Although meditation, properly done, does not require any straining or effort, it is really difficult to continually be aware of your thoughts without judging them or getting caught away by them. This type is very good for overthinking, anxiety, and depression, because it helps you separate yourself from your thoughts, which in these disorders are too frequent and distressing.

Loving kindness meditation feels really nice and I’ve seen it translate into my daily life. There are so many problems in this world, so many injustices, which we really can’t control. But we can control our attitudes. In this meditation, you begin by choosing someone close to you that is easy to love, and imagine sending love toward them. After a while, you choose someone else, who you do not know as well, to send love toward. You progress outward, from close friends and family to your community, to your country, and to the world. When you are ready, you can direct the increased love in your heart to someone who has hurt you. Finally, you can direct the love to yourself. Now, this exercise may sound cheesy, but it is based in truth. Things that annoy and hurt are more noticeable than things that are good. Taking the time to consciously remind ourselves of the good in ourselves and others helps us see the world in a more balanced, true way. It also helps us solve what problems we can, by being more understanding, kind, and influenced by truth.

Like everything I post about, meditation is not for everyone. But ten minutes a day is not much of a risk to take to find out if it works for you.

 

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