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Although meditation has been described as a reflective mode of thought, a more accurate definition might be a mode of "no thought," not unlike that of an employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Our daily worries and chattering minds recede into the background and the pure energy of our own being comes through, letting us experience complete delight in living.
Yes, it does share many similarities with an alcoholic stupor, but without the morning-after breath.
Even major corporations have integrated stress-reduction programs into their agendas and have found that by introducing meditation-based techniques, production improves, people function more efficiently and Stanley from Accounting swipes 30% fewer office supplies.
A friend recently shared that there are times when she finds herself sitting at home sulking, wallowing in negative thoughts. She noticed that when she got locked into negative thoughts, she experienced a dark, heavy feeling in the stomach area, not unlike that created by the ingestion of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese.
When she chose happy thoughts instead, however, a lightness began to arise in the heart region. She realized that she always has the choice of what thoughts she wants to keep in her mind. She immediately set about banishing the negative thoughts and welcoming the happy thoughts. This worked perfectly, except for Wayne Newton's song "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast," which she was inexplicably unable to banish.
The power of meditation is perhaps best illustrated through the following Zen puzzle: Close your eyes, and in your mind picture a duck inside a narrow-necked bottle. Now, without breaking the bottle, get the duck out. (For those of you who saw the last "Swami Muktananda Variety Special" on ABC, please don't give away the answer.)
OK, time's up. Now did you give up and feel frustrated or depressed because you always give up, you loser? Or did you feel elated because you got the answer and think you're better than the rest of us? The answer is: The duck is out. Just like that. You put him inside the bottle in your mind, you can take him out the same way. Just one precaution: Do not rely on this technique to pay your bills.
We struggle to get the duck out of the bottle when, in fact, there's no duck and no bottle. It's all a play of the mind. Granted, you could conceivably try this same exercise with a real duck and a real bottle, but this would not only have little to do with meditation, it would also spoil the duck's day.
Mark Miller has written on numerous sitcom staffs, performed stand-up comedy in nightclubs and on TV, and been a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. But he'd trade all his accomplishments away for a satisfying romantic relationship with someone other than himself.