VAIL — Articles provoke curiosity and assumptions. The initial glimpse of large-print words and eye-catching images send readers’ minds into a swirl of cognitive associations.
Notice, in this moment, why you perhaps moved your eyes from the headline, to the photos and to this very introduction. Your mind is leading the way with a purpose of growth and understanding — the intellect that is a part of your brain’s mechanism for survival.
“The mind was given to you to do one thing: survive,” explained Felix Lopez on Friday evening at the Vail Symposium Living at Your Peak event titled Healing Through Meditation. “I call it your ‘primate mind’ — it’s like a chimpanzee … surviving.”
Lopez, a spiritual leader and former Buddhist monk, went on to discuss how meditation is practiced in order to quiet the mind; it’s a tool for tapping into a more intuitive, fully conscious — not just “survival” conscious — space.
“Meditation is you, sitting in silence, training that chimpanzee how to behave,” shared Lopez as he sat facing the audience, white-robed and barefoot.
So, the mind that desires the knowledge, (to scan and digest the words on this page, for instance), can actually smother internal communication amidst its instinctual plan to survive.
It’s like feedback from an electronic speaker or static on a screen — distracting from an authentic experience of the present moment. Felix called this the “noise” of the mind.
Joey Klein, an international speaker and founder of the Institute of Transformational Studies, said throughout his childhood, adolescence and early 20s, the “noise” became too loud to be ignored.
“I kept asking myself three questions: ‘Why am I here? Who am I? And what is my purpose?’” Klein shared during Friday’s Symposium event. “It was like, ‘What in the world am I here for and what I am supposed to do?”
Klein said he asked the questions over and over, but the answers did not seem available.
“I was determined to figure it out,” Klein explained. “I knew fulfillment was possible, I knew peace was possible, and I knew joy for no reason was possible, but I didn’t know how to access it.”
Klein’s queries were a personal dialogue, just like Lopez described with his “primate mind” analogy — an internal, “survival-based” conversation with the chimpanzee.
In Klein’s early work with his spiritual teachers, he said he realized that the “gut feeling” he had been trying to communicate with for so long was being overridden with his microphone-volumed mind. His intuition was quiet and couldn’t be fully heard.
“I knew one thing: I was in a state of extreme suffering, and I wanted to get out of that suffering — that was my primary motivation,” Klein shared. “That’s what led me to where I am today. I wanted to find a way to find peace and fulfillment in my life, and that’s eventually where my intuition brought me.”
Klein said meditation is one of the most powerful avenues for connecting to an inner essence.
“The peace, the fulfillment, the joy that most people seek is already inside them, they just haven’t learned to access it,” he said. “And that’s what meditation gives us access to; it’s how we can enter that space.”
The power of intention
Mike Christenberry owns Body & Mindworx, a meditation studio in Edwards, and is the founder of the Attention Project, a local program that offers mindfulness practices for students.
Christenberry said he uses meditation to work with clients on reintroducing choice.
“I have clients that come see me from the Shaw Cancer Center,” shared Christenberry, a 32-year cancer survivor. “If the mind is still stuck in the diagnoses, there’s nothing a doctor or anybody else can do.”
He said ideally, meditation becomes a regular practice of quieting the mind and resetting our experience to the present moment; it’s creating clarity so that our next choices are made with intention and confidence.
“With practice and guidance, meditation can bring you to a point where you can distill your thoughts,” Christenberry explained. “And leave you with the simple lessons that bring you to whatever is next.”
In Klein’s experience, he said that once he was able to come from a more intuitive space, he was able to access and step into the path of his potential.
“All of a sudden, this whole life emerged from an intentionality that I had of living another way, trusting and knowing that it was possible and simply showing up for that,” he said. “And that’s what intuition gives us access to.”
More than the physical
Lopez said meditation is a practice of being present to your thoughts and feeling your emotions, not stopping them.
“Never, ever sit and think that you are going to sit and stop your mind, because it’s a waste from the beginning; your mind will only stop when you are dead,” he said. “But it’s acknowledging; it’s creating love and compassion for the whole mechanism, the whole machine.”
Laina Eskin, licensed physical therapist and owner of Align Vail in Edwards, expressed thoughts on her own work with the “whole machine,” and said that healing comes from both the body and the mind.
“What I have seen over the years is that if we are only addressing the physical with therapy, it’s only a small part of healing,” Eskin said. “There’s the nutritional component and then meditation addresses the emotional aspect — our minds and our emotional selves have a huge impact on our ability to help or hinder healing.”
Align Vail offers a rotating four-part meditation series, each program lasting six weeks, as well as free open meditations once a month.
“Not only has meditation added a helpful component of healing for my clients, it has also changed my life,” Eskin said. “It’s changed my vision and my business, helped me create connection with the community and it’s changed my relationship with my husband; it’s really been incredible.”
Klein said most people know something more is possible, and he said if you have an intention of something you want to create that you have not yet known, you are going to have to do what you have not yet done before.
“If you want to create something that doesn’t exist for you right now, you have to become someone different than who you are right now inside,” he said. “You have to shift your conscious vibration, so that it aligns with that vision.”
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