Ways to Meditate for the Restless: Meditating in the Forest, Tai Chi Exercises

Ways to Meditate for the Restless

By Toria Betson

I had a wonderful surprise this week. My husband and I ran into a friend, who took us for a visit to the Zen center he attends. At this center, they meditate for hours facing a blank white wall. He told me that sometimes the wall becomes like a movie screen, with the thoughts in your head projected on it. I am in awe of the discipline and dedication it must take to follow the Zen path. I have always been a little intimidated by the focus on posture and breathing.

Many years ago, while in India, I accidentally stumbled into an ashram. I say accidentally, but in truth, I have no doubt the universe takes us exactly where we need to go, if we just let it. In some ways I suppose the meditation technique I learned there, was almost opposite that which was described for me at the Zen center.

Having failed for years at attempting to breathe correctly, the ashram’s technique was a huge relief. They told me not to worry about breathing. They said to sit so that I was comfortable. I was told to imagine a bright light that slowly gets bigger and bigger. They told me to feel that light inside of me, to feel it growing and becoming brighter as it fills me.

As I meditated, I felt myself became light as a feather. Time and place no longer existed. I felt transcended, transformed. This was the first time meditation ever truly worked for me. I suppose the incredible sitar and tabla music had something to do with it, and it probably didn’t hurt that I was facing a bunch of gurus, who I suspect were helping me in some way. I have been successful with this method for years, but admit I seldom make it a daily practice for longer than a couple weeks at a time.

I guess I’m too much the wild child for meditation methods that take much discipline. Fortunately I have a method that feels natural and effortless to me. Each and every morning, weather permitting, I meditate in the woods. I find a tree that feels right for this purpose, and ask its permission to meditate with it.

Ways to Meditate in the Forest

If I sense it is ok, I lean with my back against the tree, and close my eyes.

I then imagine my legs and feet, as though they were continuing down into the earth, as roots.

I imagine my head reaching upward toward the sunlight.

I let go of all thoughts, and become one with the tree.

I feel the earth’s energy entering my body, as the water and nutrients enter the tree through its roots.

The energy goes up through me, and out the top of my head.

At the same time I feel the energy of the sun and the heavens, entering my head and flowing down and out through my feet. Always the energy is flowing, in and through, never standing still to stagnate.

In time I feel transparent, and connected with all around me.

I give thanks to the tree, and when I open my eyes, I often see the undulating auras of the forest.

Benefits of Tai Chi

Many have told me they can’t meditate, because they just can’t sit still. To them I recommend Tai chi. Tai chi can be called a moving meditation. It’s very gentle, and the Tai Chi positions and movements themselves give you a focus. Tai Chi exercises help you center and feel grounded while building chi, or life force energy.

Maybe we each have different styles of meditation that work best for us? Any of these methods can help us clear our minds; they all can help us with focus, and they all can help us reach that place where we experience our oneness with all. I do know one thing. Meditation each morning makes the world of difference in how I face my day!

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