Ever feel that your mind is so cluttered and your day so busy that you’d like to activate a trap door to drop away from it all?

It might not need to be that drastic.

Life may be busier than it has ever been, but the centuries-old practice of meditation still has the ability to slow it down.


Ever feel that your mind is so cluttered and your day so busy that you’d like to activate a trap door to drop away from it all?
It might not need to be that drastic.
Life may be busier than it has ever been, but the centuries-old practice of meditation still has the ability to slow it down. A weekly meditation class being offered in Shawnee is teaching participants how to quiet the mind and “drop underneath” the noise of the world.
“We don’t question the need to go to the gym to work with our bodies or to eat the right food. Meditation is exercise we do with our minds, and it is just as important,” said Jeff Green, who is leading the class. “Meditation makes the brain much more pliable, and a meditative brain is less tight and impenetrable.”
The Peaceful Abiding Meditation Group began a few weeks ago after discussion between Green and Shawnee resident Sandra Merchant, who are involved in interfaith work in Oklahoma City. The class is designed for both beginners and longtime meditators, and people can drop in at any session. It is held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Saturday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, corner of Broadway and Highland, and there is no cost to attend. Although the group is jointly sponsored by Emmanuel Episcopal and Peace Congregation (Unitarian Universalist), the meditation is not tied to any particular religion or faith. Green, a Buddhist who has trained extensively in meditation instruction, said the practice will accent anyone’s spiritual path.
Green said the group is using three main types of meditation: Peaceful Abiding, the foundational type; Loving Kindness Meditation; and Walking Meditation.
In Peaceful Abiding Meditation, people use their breath as the object of the meditation, training the mind to return again and again to the breath. All other meditations spring from this one, Green said.
“Sitting quietly with the breath has the effect of calming the mind, relaxing the body and creating a spaciousness,” he said. “It’s an emotional and psychological spaciousness that allows us to be more flexible with what comes at us in life.”
That flexibility plays out in real-life scenarios, Green said. Before his meditative life, if Green was cut off in traffic, his reaction was predictably negative, he said. Today, with meditation, he meets a traffic fracas with a different set of emotions. Often, he can realize that the person who cut him off may have been in a hurry, feeling stress or perhaps not even aware of what happened.
“It’s almost miraculous to think that has happened, but meditation gives us that space,” he said.
Loving Kindness Meditation is a guided meditation that asks people to invite themselves, a loved one, a neutral person, a difficult person, the community and the world into the space around the heart, then look at them with gentleness and compassion. The meditation must start with ourselves because we cannot love others before we love ourselves, Green said. However, the meditation must involve compassion for others because it would otherwise become an exercise in narcissism, he said.
People sometimes go through life in “neutral gear” — seeing other people but not recognizing them as moms and dads, people with talents, worries and gifts, Green said. Loving Kindness Meditation helps people expand their awareness of others in the world.
Walking Meditation brings awareness to the movement of the body. Green said our bodies are often doing one thing while the mind is doing something else. Walking Meditation uses a slow pace, putting one foot in front of the other, as all the senses become more aware and mindful.
Green said he intends to do all three types of meditation in each session. From time to time, he will introduce other meditations that focus on forgiveness, cultivating compassion, generosity and healing. Half-day meditation retreats also may be offered later in the summer.
Green said it’s important to remember that meditation is a practice, which means people won’t be perfect at it in the beginning. The brain learning to meditate is like a baby beginning to walk: sometimes it will wander away. If it does, simply bring it back to the task at hand, without judgment, he said.
“First-time meditators will say, ‘I didn’t realize my mind is so noisy.’ We take the clutter in our minds for granted,” Green said. “We call it ‘monkey mind’ — our minds jump from one thing to another all the time, which creates stress and disconnectedness. Meditation allows us to drop underneath that.”
As people advance in meditation, they begin allowing their feelings to simply be, Green said. When anger arises, people can observe it — Where is it in the body? Is it hot or cold? What changes is it creating? — then watch the emotion pass away like a cloud in the sky. The result? Anger is no longer in control.
“A central teaching of meditation is, ‘Don’t avoid what feels bad and don’t cling to what feels good,’” Green said. “Meditation takes us out of the ‘doing’ mode and into the ‘being’ mode.”