It's an honor to have Jeanie Marshall with us today. Jeanie is an Empowerment Consultant at Marshall House in Santa Monica, CA and recently produced six guided meditation CDs. I can see that this will be an interesting discussion. Welcome Jeanie.
.Irene: What inspired you to create six guided meditation CDs at one time?.Jeanie: Irene, that question is just too funny! It was an outrageous undertaking. And if anyone were to ask my advice, I'd say: produce one at a time! But back to the heart of your question.
The real inspiration was to create a series of CDs to give people choices. I've been creating guided meditations for many years, so I know what people who gravitate to my work want. I have many more left in me to create, all lengths, many subjects, many approaches.
Irene: You are called an Empowerment Consultant at Marshall House. What does that actually mean?.Jeanie: It means that I help people to find the power within themselves. Most of the people I work with are already quite empowered, at least in most parts of their lives. I help them to find greater empowerment and satisfaction with life.Irene: How do you do that?.
Jeanie: The processes I use vary from person to person, but the general approach is the same with all: help people to tap into their own inner wisdom to guide them to their hearts' desires. I know instantly whether or not people are tuned into their own inner guidance and whether they are moving toward or away from their hearts' desires. I suggest and use many different ways to help them to tap the power within, including meditation.
Irene: Exactly, what is meditating?.Jeanie: I define "meditation" rather broadly. I consider it's an opportunity to realize your higher consciousness (or to realize your oneness with your higher consciousness) and to resonate with pure consciousness (that is, to be without resistance). I find the best meditative practices provide the mind a place to rest the attention, a place that requires minimal mental effort.Given my broad definition, you can perhaps understand that I recognize the existence of hundreds of techniques and advocate a variety. Some techniques are more supportive than others; some are more conducive to continuing a long-term practice than others; some are easier to learn than others.
A technique is a means to assist you in reaching the deeper purpose of meditating.Many meditation teachers teach that the purpose of meditation is to achieve "no thought." I have a different perspective. Quite honestly, I have no desire to be without thought.
The mind is designed for thinking. Quieting the mind is the goal as I see it -- not stopping it. Stopping certain kinds of thinking like mind-chatter, contradictions, criticism, is an extremely worthy goal, but not stopping thought.Irene: When I first started meditating my teacher told me the goal was to achieve "no thought" and I struggled with the [that] for a long time until I found another teacher who advocated quieting the mind, like you do.
Please tell us an overview of how, as a stressed-out beginner even attempt to quiet the mind.Jeanie: I find the best way is to focus on the breath. The breath moves and can became a calming and engaging focal point. Any focal point will do, actually, but your breath is always with you, and you can focus on it with your eyes open or closed.
A steady focus can be maintained by counting the breaths, or breathing with a simple idea like "I breath in and I breathe out" in rhythm with the in-breath and the out-breath.A person who is really stressed out might need to give himself or herself permission to take two minutes or so for the mind chatter. For some people, it's helpful to have a place to image the thoughts can move. For example, imagine distracting thoughts moving to a shelf or a desk and then returning the attention to the breath. It's a powerful discipline to decide where to put the attention, and put it there.
If the attention moves again to a distracting thought, no problem (and no punishment!), just decide to put it back on the breath, and then put it there. It's a practice, so practicing is required.Irene: You are a proponent of meditating daily. Give us your views on the importance of taking the time to do so.
Jeanie: I think that meditation is something to be practiced regularly, like sleep and exercise and eating and resting and brushing your teeth. Meditation is a practice that has long-term positive benefits. While I'm certainly a proponent of daily meditation, I don't make up rules for others, nor do I try to make them feel guilty if they choose another path or if they set a goal to meditate daily and then do not. I encourage people to choose what feels good to them in their lifestyle.Irene: Are prayer and meditation the same thing?.
Jeanie: The power of language is that we can choose to define anything however we want. I personally do not consider that they are the same, and I've heard many ways that the two are differentiated. Usually, when people use the word "prayer" they mean they are asking for something. I defined meditation earlier, and so, clearly prayer and meditation are not the same for me. When I hear people use prayer and meditation interchangeably, I simply ask them what they mean by each so that I have a greater understanding of their perceptions.
Irene: You present guided meditations. What is the difference between guided meditations and meditating on your own?.Jeanie: First of all, I consider that guided meditation is one approach to meditation. I present guided meditations because I have the voice, the interest, and the ability to provide a container for powerful experiences for a wide range of individuals. Meditating on your own is also a powerful experience.
Some people find it difficult to maintain a focus when they meditate on their own, especially at the beginning. Even long-time meditators like to have variety in their meditation experience or want the focus of being guided by a voice. It's quite common for me to hear from clients that they achieve their deepest meditations with me.
Irene: And why would that be?.Jeanie: Because I am with them. The quality of "being with" someone in consciousness is extremely supportive. When I am with a person in a meditative experience, I am fully present. I know how deep the person is in the meditation and I know how to maintain the space for the proper depth of the experience. I know when to pause, how to pace the experience, and where to spend more time.
They feel safe, and interestingly, even if they are sitting in their office at work, which is usually the case.Irene: Many people who meditate claim they get insights, have experiences, or are taken to another level of consciousness. What does all that mean?.Jeanie: Truly, each meditation is its own unique experience.
As I've said, I do think that one of the primary purposes of meditation is to realize higher consciousness. I prefer to think of meditation as a regular practice, and not just something to do when a person needs an answer or is under stress. When the meditation practice is regular, insights tend to flow both during meditation and in an ordinary state of consciousness.Sometimes people "meditate on a topic" specifically to get insights. I wouldn't argue with someone talking about "meditation" this way, but I personally would call that "contemplation.
" If the whole time in a meditative pose is spent thinking, it's not really a meditation in the way I prefer to define it. I certainly would not discourage this activity, because thinking while in a quiet state can be very powerful. I just prefer to use a word like "contemplation" for greater clarity.Irene: Is there a difference between meditating by oneself or meditating with a group of people? Why?.
Jeanie: I've led many groups in meditation. It can certainly be very rich and rewarding when everyone present is focused similarly. I particularly like to meditate with other regular meditators because the connection with others in that deep space of silence can be quite profound and intimate. As with all approaches, it's a matter of personal preference. I think people find their preferred methods best by being open to and trying a variety of techniques.
Irene: What I'm hearing you say is that meditation is very personal and basically, what works for one person may not work for another. Do you have any comments?.Jeanie: You're absolutely right.
I think it's extraordinary to share experiences, but it can be detrimental to assume that because something works for one person it will work for everyone. My approach is to meet people where they are and suggest the next step on the path they want to take.Irene: There is a belief that if people, or groups of people, would meditate at the same time there would be a change of consciousness in the world. Would you explain how that works.Jeanie: We are all connected. That's how it works.
To move into meditation with the intention of connecting in consciousness with those who are meditating with the intention of connecting -- that is powerful intention! I do think this changes the world consciousness, but if only those who personally participate in such group practices benefit, that's really all that matters. It's difficult enough to measure changes in individual consciousness, trying to measure world consciousness is complicated.Irene: Many of our readers may not feel they have the time to meditate because of their busy lives. Would you please give them suggestions of how they could make the time to meditate.
Jeanie: My best suggestion is: the first step is to decide that you want to meditate. If it's important enough, the time will open up. Claiming to be too busy is an all too convenient excuse -- who can dispute that? We are all busy. And most of us are too busy.
I think my next best suggestion following the personal choice to meditate is to start at manageable frequency, for example, once a week. Gradually increasing the frequency, as desired, is more likely to establish the practice.Here's the real key to understanding the relationship of meditation and time: regular meditators sleep less and better, have more energy, and think more clearly. When people experience their lives going more smoothly because of meditation, it's self evident that it saves time rather than spends time.
Irene: For a beginner, what CD would you suggest and why?.Jeanie: I think my most favorite answer to this question is: the one the beginner resonates with most strongly. Among any of my six CDs that are currently available, no beginner would be lost because the concepts are clear. When I created "Balance the Energies," I certainly had in mind that is the most appropriate beginning guided meditation for someone new to my work or new to meditation.Irene: For the seasoned person, which CD do you feel would be the most important one?.Jeanie: Ditto -- it's the one the seasoned meditator most strongly resonates with.
Among any of my six that are currently available, no experienced meditator would find any to be too "elementary" or inappropriate. Each guided meditation meets the person where he or she is. That's quite intentional on my part. I've discovered that many whom I know to be experienced meditators usually select "Finding the Balance in your Breath" first. All the guided meditations build on each other, regardless of the sequence.Many people who have all six CDs simply reach for the one that fits for them in the moment.
I've also found that people can listen for many years and still find something new in the experience. While these CDs are new, I've been leading people in guided meditations for over twenty years.Irene: Thanks Jeanie for all your wise insights. Is there anything else you would like the reading audience to know about you or your CDs?.Jeanie: Irene, it's been wonderful talking with you. I'd love for your readers to visit my web site, Voice of Jeanie Marshall at http://www.
jmvoice.com At the site, you can listen free to some brief guided meditations on MP3 and purchase the CDs we've mentioned, which are also available on MP3. In addition, I have many articles available for free reading or download at that site, the Marshall House site, my blogs, and three monthly Ezines, all of which are an easy click from Voice of Jeanie Marshall. Thanks, Irene, it's been a pleasure..Irene Watson is the Managing Editor for Reader Views http://www.readerviews.
By: Irene Watson