I have read about and been told repeatedly about the benefits of meditation. However, no matter how hard I, try I just have not been able to do it for more than a few seconds at a time.
The leader of the Unity Church I attend simply says, “Begin again.” But I end up getting frustrated with all the beginning again and I don’t feel I benefit from the meditation that way.
I think I have found my answer in a book of Taoist exercises. In Internal Exercises by Stephen Chang, he explains that people who think a lot – I am pretty sure I qualify – can have disastrous results if they force themselves to empty their brains for meditation. He warns that they will experience confusion, illusion and frustration. In worst cases it can lead to schizophrenia. But mostly it leads to a worsening of the stress and tension one is trying to overcome through meditation.
The solution he recommends is a balancing between the brain and solar plexus. He mentions that the symptoms of cerebral brain over use are headache, stiff neck, confusion, forgetfulness and spaciness. He offers a simple exercise to help balance the mind and body.
The Solar Plexus Exercise:
Begin by sitting or standing with both hands placed on your stomach. Face forward and inhale. Feel your stomach expand with you hands.
While exhaling, push in and up with your hands on you stomach. At the same time, turn your shoulders and head slowly to the left as far as possible without straining.
Face back to the front as you inhale releasing your stomach and feeling the air push your hands out.
This time turn to the right as you exhale.
Repeat up to 36 times or as often as the flexibility of your neck and shoulders will allow.
I have found that after only a few days of doing this exercise, my mental clarity has greatly improved. I have not yet tried to meditate. I will give it a few more days before I try again. I was able to complete a mental focus exercise last night that I have been having trouble with however.
For more information on the solar plexus exercise and many other wonderful Taoist exercises see Internal Exercises by Stephan Chang.