by Loden Nyima
Many of us come to meditation to rejuvenate and recharge, to deepen and grow, or for relief from the stress, turmoil, and destabilization of modern life. While it’s not a panacea, our intuition is true that it can go a long way. It can also help inform and empower wise, kind, choices and actions that make positive change in our own lives and those of others.
The good news is, our minds are naturally free, peaceful, open, strong, and brimming with insight and love trying to come out. The bad news is, we’re living interdependently with conditions in our world which may not be so encouraging to experiencing that. This is where meditation and especially even short retreats may help.
We may be impacted by constant technological bombardment, toxic messaging, over-extended workplaces that rarely end at the office, a natural environment in crisis and that we spend less time in, economic and political woes, relational strains, global conflict and injustice, the pandemic, and more. These can leave us feeling exhausted, wounded, outraged, anxious, isolated, depressed, overwhelmed, numb, desperately longing to help, and more.
These are normal responses to unhealthy situations. While addressing any of these issues is complex and calls for action, purely on a personal level for the way our minds are affected, we have all the power. One thing that can help is taking time to slow down, unplug, and connect with nature and with ourselves. This is what we do on meditation retreat, and for that matter, in a little daily meditation practice at home or on the spot.
Meditation is a simple, natural, and healthy activity that absolutely anyone can do. We do not need to be interested in a religious path to meditate. It’s survived for thousands of years because it works, and we can do it too.
Meditation begins with sitting down and connecting with ourselves, each other, and our environment. We often use our breathing as a medium at the beginning, to allow the gentle embrace of our natural connectivity or “mindfulness” to return home to our present experience.
As it does, our minds can begin to rejuvenate and heal, process and release backlogged emotional material, and come home into a more natural, grounded, clear, and resilient state. It takes time, but it is that simple. The classic image is allowing stirred up muddy water to settle into natural clarity.
As our meditation expands, we can open to connectivity with each other and our environment, and experience life with a greater sense of wholeness, understanding, and love. We can cultivate insight or “awareness” into the dynamics of our minds and world, and ultimately, into freedom, and how we can help others within our spheres of influence.
Advanced, long-term meditation practitioners have even been able to draw upon it to transform their experience of truly horrific situations and become beacons of love, strength, and wisdom for others. It’s many of them we have to thank for meditation teachings surviving to this day.
If nothing else, for all of us, it can be part of reclaiming a healthy mind. That is totally within our control. We have that power, and we have that refuge in the storm. In my own opinion, even just a little meditation these days belongs in the same sentence with a wholesome diet, enough exercise, and quitting smoking. It can be a bit like a spiritual detox.
It’s no accident that meditation is becoming more popular, and is proof of our deeper wisdom, intuition, and health longing to come out. On a long enough timeline, that’s one thing that bodes well.
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About Gelong Loden Nyima
Gelong Loden Nyima is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. He lived at Gampo Abbey from 2009 – 2017 where he practiced intensively, completed Shedra studies, and served in various roles including as a Shastri (senior teacher). He now lives at Drala Mountain Center where he serves as Resident Teacher and a founding faculty member for the Mahayana Summer Seminar, the Path of Meditation, the Coming Home Youth Retreat, and other programs. He spends a portion of each year continuing his practice in retreat, travels to continue his education, and can often be seen at night jogging the land at DMC. Before ordaining as a monk, he taught music and performed professionally in his home town of San Antonio, TX.