Practicing simple meditation eases pain—physical, mental and spiritual pain.
Meditating means sitting in silence. I learn how to let my mind go quiet. Meditation helps me hear when God whispers.
Letting my mind go silent? Hah! Nobody’s mind obeys like that. My mind thinks, worries and plans all the time. Sometimes I lie awake because I can’t stop thinking.
When I hurt, when I’m afraid, I clench into a frightened ball. I’m so worried that the only chatter in my head is “Please make it stop.”
Meditating eases pain. But it’s exactly like playing the violin. It’s a skill you have to learn.
When I started playing violin as a girl, I sounded horrible. Everyone does in the beginning. But I kept practicing. After a while I sounded better. Later I sounded beautiful.
Meditation can be simple and easy, but you have to practice it.
First, just get comfortable. It’s not true that you have to sit on some cushion on the floor. There are people who do, but you don’t have to. Lying in a bed or relaxing in an easy chair is just fine.
Second, aim your heart at something good. This is your desire, your yearning. This intention will pull you to joy, if you let it. But you have to relax enough to allow it.
You’re setting off on a path. You’re turning towards the Good. You’re choosing relief. You’re opening to something new—but you don’t know what that might be because you’re not inventing it. You are allowing it.
Third, close your eyes and take slow, easy breaths. While your eyes are closed, your mind will keep thinking and that’s okay.
This is where practicing matters. Right here.
I hand you a violin. You have no idea how to play it. It feels so awkward. “It sounds like a dying cat!” someone says, and everybody laughs.
No one knows how to play at first. Meditation, letting the mind go silent, is exactly like that.
It takes practice. A young violinist starts with scales. One finger, then the next, then the next. Fumbling and klutziness.
The kid practices day after day. It is a skill. There is no choice but to practice.
Letting the mind go silent so that you can hear God is exactly the same.
It takes practice. After many practice sessions, the young violinist starts sounding pretty good.
After many practice sessions, my mind quiets down. This is the payoff. In the silence, something changes.
Don’t expect trumpets or an angel, although anything can happen. Often what I might sense is subtle and very new.
Maybe in that silence I sense magnificence, healing or comfort.
Maybe in the meditation itself I just relax, and nothing more happens. Later, when I see my drunk sister in law, this time I judge her less and love her more.
Maybe when I look at the light on a flower, joy blinds me.
Maybe when my pain starts again, I feel less alone as I struggle with each breath. Practicing meditation eases pain—doctors and nurses know this.
Maybe even death starts to feel okay.
Meditation changes lives. When I meditate, the unbearable becomes bearable.
This is the violin starting to sing. The only way it can happen is when I practice.
Sitting in silence gets me through terrible stuff. It opens me to God’s love. It surprises me.
So I practice every day. I’ve practiced viola for 50 years and meditation for 36 years. When I’m done, I say thank you.
Thank You for grace.
Thank You for help.
–by Jean Gendreau
copyright © 2016 by Jean E Gendreau
Marina Petro. is the artist. Click on her name to see more of her spiritual paintings.