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Are You a Crisis Meditator?

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Are You a Crisis Meditator?

How to surrender to the stillness within.
Oct 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Each week, I begin my meditation class by asking my students two questions: 1) Do you meditate? and 2) What are you seeking in a meditation practice?

The answer to the first question has consistently been the same: 10% have never meditated; 10% have a daily practice; and the vast majority (80%), say they are “on again/off again” meditators who reach for a meditation when they are in need of calm or comfort - what I refer to as crisis meditators.

The answers to my second question, “What are you seeking?” have fluctuated over the years but the top ten “goals” of a new meditator have also been pretty consistent:

  1. Peace of mind
  2. Less stress/anxiety
  3. Deeper connection to Self/Source
  4. Lower blood pressure
  5. Stop the relentless thoughts
  6. More restful sleep
  7. Greater clarity
  8. Release of pain
  9. Awaken inner healing
  10. Lessen anger

And, recently I even heard, “To shut my spouse up.”

Whatever your reason is, if you don’t take the time each day in some sort of ritualized way, you are a crisis meditator. You reach for meditation like reaching for a pill. You are using meditation as a cure to a symptom. This may be exactly where you want to be. But I have found that, with a little attention and the desire to be your best version of yourself, gently awakening a meditative practice into your life will lead to deeper fulfillment.

Most ex-meditators had an expectation that closing one’s eyes for a few minutes will lead to enlightenment, wash away all the turmoil, and bring peace of mind and body. But when transcendence doesn’t happen within a few days, they feel they’ve done it wrong or it doesn’t work.

That’s why people stop meditating. The results are too subtle!! But those who have a daily ritual of surrendering to the stillness and silence that rests within, have a strong track record of not finding themselves in crisis and not experiencing the levels of stress that crisis meditators experience.

So how do you stop letting external forces and outside events swirl your inner world into chaos? It requires both an intellectual and a deeper internal shift in awareness.

The intellectual key rests in understanding the difference between object referral and self referral. In object referral, we are dependent on the outside world to deliver our fulfillment. And it must keep on delivering...materially, emotionally, financially, physically, relationship-wise…delivering…and delivering…and delivering. When “it” fails to deliver, we find ourselves in crisis.

Self-referral is love guided by inner wisdom and is not dependent on results outside of ourselves. It’s not fear-driven or based upon holding on to a title, a point of view, a possession, money, a person, or an external activity. Self-referral trusts that you are a divine expression of the universe and that your words, thoughts, and deeds reflect the divine.  By spending time in stillness and silence, you plant divine seeds which can manifest in fertile, divine soil.

By spending time in daily meditation, the stillness inside becomes proactive rather than reactive; our thoughts before we act become reflective rather than reflexive; our behaviors become creative and intuitive rather than old and robotic; our choices become more conscious; we experience a lightness of being; and what was once seen as a crisis becomes an opportunity. And that starts with a ritual.

Daily rituals help us to make a behavior more comfortable until it becomes the very fiber of your existence. So how do we get started? The Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi wrote: “What nine months does for the embryo, forty early mornings will do for your growing awareness.” So the first step in your transformational ritual can start right now. 

Close your eyes halfway so you can still read and begin slowly breathing in and slowly breathing out through your nostrils. Bring your awareness to your breath. How it curls in at the edge of your nose and moves into your throat. The fullness of the inhale; the way your chest rises up; the completeness of your exhale; the feeling of your belly emptying. Do this a few times and then notice that space between your inhales and exhales. It’s just a sliver of stillness between your breaths – neither in nor out. Maybe it lasts a millisecond. This is stillness between activity. In that moment you are neither in the past nor in the future. Your mind isn’t being bombarded with thoughts. You are fully present.

Now keep breathing and witnessing the process with your eyes closed. I’ll wait. 

I’m guessing you’re back. This sweet moment of present moment awareness is a gift you just gave yourself. Spending just a few moments each day with yourself in this gap-like stillness can be the start of your shift from crisis meditator to daily meditator. Try it for a week for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes…whatever feels comfortable. If you like what you see in yourself, come back next month on for more tips, techniques, and tools to help you bring more grace and ease into your life.

In the meantime, send me an email with any questions, comments, challenges, or triumphs to

You can also join my  Live Online Event, Discover the Secrets of Meditation Lesson 1  on October 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm PDT


 See you in the gap!!


About Author
davidji is an internationally recognized stress-management expert, corporate trainer, meditation teacher, and author of the critically acclaimed: destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of M Continue reading