New tips for trying the ancient practice of meditation

Susan Armstrong spends quiet time in Unity's meditation garden.

Everyone knows meditation is good for you. In fact, everyone from Buddha to Dr. Oz recommends it for better physical, mental and spiritual health!

This is the most common thought concerning meditation: “I can’t meditate because my mind won’t be still.” Perhaps the truth is that your mind won’t be still because you won’t meditate. However, like nightly flossing or keeping your personal papers organized, meditation is something many people feel they should do, and know would be helpful, but day by day manage to postpone it. Often, just sitting down to try it seems to stir up the active mind even more!

Meditation, contemplation and learning to slow down enough to sit still without stimuli, are good practices for human beings in our hyperactive world. Reams of scientific data point to this fact. If you want to meditate but can’t, then simply change your thinking about the concept from “meditating” to Quiet Time. 

Quiet Time, intentionally chosen, and done on a daily basis, will begin the process that will eventually move you into a desire to learn to meditate. Choose to sit in the same place, at the same time each day if at all possible, with little sound or very light music, and exhale. Then inhale, and sit quietly for a few minutes breathing. In the beginning, the first minute or two can seem like an eternity. If it’s too hard, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and sit until the timer goes off. Then try it again. 

The mind may begin to race, but let it go, quietly observing it. If you can sit still for a few minutes, with no intention whatsoever to accomplish anything, but staying in the chair and observing your breathing, you are on your way to becoming a person who practices meditation. There are 1,440 minutes in a 24 hour period. If you set aside only 0.3% of your day (less than five minutes) for daily Quiet Time, consistently, you will begin to cherish that time. For many people it is the beginning of a spiritual practice that matures into meditation over time.

Meditation has been elemental to Unity since the movement began in the late 1800s. Unity Spiritual Center (USC) in Westlake offers opportunities for people to learn about meditation and to try it. There is no cost whatsoever.

Unity's 90-foot outdoor labyrinth is a walking meditation that is wonderful to experience this time of year. It is open to the public and located on the campus of USC at 23855 Detroit Rd.

Meditation is always part of Sunday services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. A special guided meditation offered by Reverend Barbara Smith is available every Wednesday, beginning at noon and lasting about 30 minutes. A small outdoor meditation garden and a meditation chapel are available to anyone who wants a quiet place to try it.

Unity's website has guidance on meditation. There is no downside to incorporating some quiet time into your life. The upside can be quite amazing in terms of the ability to focus, better health and overall enjoyment and awareness of life and its abundance.

Terri Zajac

I am the volunteer Marketing Director for Unity Spiritual Center in Westlake.

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Volume 3, Issue 21, Posted 5:14 PM, 10.18.2011