Intentional Meditation?

I‘m pretty hopeless at meditating. I just don’t seem to be able to slow down and focus my mind sufficiently to get the benefits from it.
I have, however, found that certain focused activities do get me into a state that is very relaxed, open and attentive:
  • My 5k runs, three times a week, in an oval in my back yard, free from traffic and distractions (other than curious wildlife).
  • Repetitive outdoor chores like power-washing the decks and mowing and trimming the grass.
  • At night, falling asleep and letting go of the concerns of the day.
These are all easy, effortless tasks that let my mind wander, so perhaps I do get close to a meditative state while I’m doing them.
What I like to do in this state is not meditation but rather intention. This entails thinking in detail, step by step, about how I am going to do something (something easy and certain and enjoyable), in the near future. I wrote about my mid-year intentions recently, and these are what I think about. These thoughts are not fantasies, wishful thinking or resolutions. They are realizations , thoughts about things I am in the process of doing, and that I am certain of completing. They are stories in process.
I generally start with short-term (next day or few days) intentions and then if time permits move to longer term (next few months) intentions — beyond that is too far for reasonable certainty, and premature for intention. One day at a time.
So my current meditative intentional thoughts are about:
  • the completion of my book on working naturally and Natural Enterprise (three weeks from now)
  • meeting new people and learning from them, listening to them, appreciating them, being open to them (every day)
  • my new position, as executive with a large, influential and trusted professional association, and the opportunities it will give me to help entrepreneurs succeed sustainably, responsibly, joyfully, on their own terms (starts next week)
  • showing people how their work, and their lives, can be easier, simpler, and happier (every day)
  • living a simpler, healthier life, trusting my intuition and my emotions and my senses, learning from nature and from just paying attention to what is happening, how things work, why things are the way they are, what it all means, and what I can do to adapt and evolve and help others adapt and evolve to cope with it and to influence things in small, positive ways (whenever the occasion arises)
  • imagining possibilities, both for their own sake (as a writer of imaginative fiction) and to see how those possibilities might make the world a better place, at least for those I love in my communities, and perhaps serve as models for others
These are delightful thoughts, full of joy, discovery, learning, creation, letting go and letting come, letting things emerge and make sense. If our life is a movie we each star in, I’m looking at tomorrow’s script, and learning and rehearsing my lines.

James Taylor said “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”. He’s exactly right, but it’s so very hard to learn to do it, and to get yourself into a situation, by simplifying your life, where you can do it. With my intentional thoughts, I get to enjoy these ‘passages’ twice — once as I intend them, and again when they occur.

I don’t know if this is anything like meditation. The word ‘meditation’ means to ‘turn over’, to take appropriate measures, to consider and do what needs to be done. The word ‘intend’ means to stretch towards. Perhaps my ‘intentional meditation’ is too decided, not sufficiently considered. While I’m thinking, I certainly can imagine possible obstacles to achieving my intention, but I imagine, at almost the same time as these obstacles occur to me, natural workarounds for them.

What do you think? Am I on to something, or too self-confident for my own good? And is this really meditation, or is it a poor substitute, forthose unable to slow down and consider fully and thoughtfully?

Category: Let-Self-Change
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9 Responses to Intentional Meditation?

  1. Siona says:

    I think what you’re doing is fine and wonderful and helpful and grand. I wouldn’t, though, characterize it as meditation.For me, meditation is a disidentification from my thoughts and my beliefs. It’s what helps me see my thoughts and beliefs and emotions and moods as mere passing amusements, no more or no less a part of who I really am than anything else in the world. It’s been meditation that’s contributed to me living a little more lightly in the world, less bound up by my judgments about how I think things should be, or how others should behave. It’s allowed me to be less afraid of feeling more deeply–it’s made my emotions far more sharp and poignant, and led to me experiencing both more pain and more joy–but helped me suffer less.For me focus is only a part of meditation. Focus was how I started. That initial need to focus on the present eventually led to my being able to maintain an attention to awareness, and to presence. The focus was mere practice for the latter. Again, for me, it’s not so much about slowing my mind, but about observing my thoughts, as I would observe nature, or clouds in the sky.That’s all.

  2. Richard says:

    A rose by any other name?Sure there is a conventional way of meditating. But if your method feels right in that it nourishes your spirit with oxygen and light, to allow you to continue to feel in touch with yourself, giving you greater balance, then I would argue be grateful you have this unique system. If however, it does not completely satisfy you, then you might consider exploring this art further. Anything that feeds your inspiration and open-mindedness as a writer, especially in this important area that you focus on Dave, is a positive thing in my view.Call it meditation, call it prayer, call it a walk in the woods: the human experience in the area of spiritual nourishment (not religion) is something that deserves consideration. It may even have a role to play in our species achieving the freedom from compulsive actions and pursuing instead a higher mission for ourselves and the earth we are responsible for. And judging by the tone of your text, it is something that works for you.Cheers.

  3. Al Billings says:

    The thing about meditation is every one is bad at it. Lots of people try it and quit because they think they are no good at it. The thing is, no one is except a rare individual. Try it for six months in an organized manner following a specific technique. I guarantee by the end of it, you’ll have the basics down and won’t be “bad” at it.

  4. Dawn says:

    I do what you do, almost daily before I sleep. It is very similar to meditation, but not exactly the same, because it has a different “intention”. You are working on your goals, and envisioning them, and helping to see how to complete them. The goal of meditation is to clear your mind, as much as possible. The reason for this activity is to create a calm center for emerging (??? thoughts, feelings, outside influences AKA spiritual interactions of some kind.) So Meditation creates space, and your “intention” fills it.

  5. Ed Diril says:

    For me, meditation is not about the details, the knowing, the thinking or whatever else we associate with the left brain. Meditation is the other side of things: not knowing, no details or specific paths to follow, sometimes not even a sense of “being”. You can meditate on something specific (which is what “prayer” is for me) or just enjoy the bliss of shutting down active thought. (Keep in mind that “focus” is still active even though thinking is not).Meditation appears to be pointless for those who associate taking action only with thinking about and implementing details, but it has very distinct benefits which are hard to grasp for those who do not practice it. Quieting the chatterbox of the mind helps to connect you with the subtler aspects of your being, reveals what you cannot get to by thinking alone and also provides answers to your intentions for which you have no specific answers or paths to follow.Religion is all about getting you in touch with these aspects of your self. However, in time, its followers became nothing more than imitators and “recipe followers”. Very few people question and truly understand its teachings. Now, all we have is a pissing contest (my religion is better than yours) and it is not serving anyone. If you can lift the veil which the mindless followers pulled over it, religion has a lot to offer, but I admit it is very hard to do this at this point.

  6. Daniel says:

    I also find meditation difficult.The simplest way for me is to focus on respiration (abdominal) and try to do 10 controlled respirations.Like you, I like running it puts you in a state of flow. A guided gym class also works for me.It seems we have forgotten what can be the simplest form of meditation: singing. When you sing you control respiration, concentrate in the lyrics, follow the rithm, etc. I know several friends who joined a choir and like it very much and it works to release stress too.Just walking could work, anything that puts the control of your body out of your consciousness.

  7. Daniel says:

    Here is how to do the respiration:1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine as straight as possible, or lie on the floor or on your bed. Close your eyes and place your hands on your abdomen, just below your rib cage. 2. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, concentrating on filling the bottom of your lungs so that your stomach gently expands. Your hands should move outward along with your belly, and your chest will rise

  8. Alan Post says:

    i consider physical activity, particularly cardiovascular exercise, to be “active meditation.” you can fall into a trance and become quite present in that space.i think you’re experiencing meditation when you run.

  9. div says:

    This squidoo lens really rocks. You can find great articles on meditation ,which will open your eyes to your inner soul .One of my friends told me about this lens and its worth sharing here.

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