on meditation: set the intention to be present

It’s been two weeks since I flipped over the handle bars of my Norge Moto Guzi 1200 and the black Mercedes S550 that gunned in front of me on PCH. I maneuver into the room to see my dear friend and chiropractor, Dr. V.

We’ve decided to begin a profound healing regimen. One tool we are using is immersing myself into an hyperbaric chamber three times a week to increase my cellular oxygen levels for more rapid healing.

Today, I crawl into the submarine-like chamber to absorb the goodness for an hour and discover that it is the perfect place to meditate. For the next hour, I sit in a deep state first adjusting to find comfort, then into reflection with thoughts rushing in and fading out, and eventually I’m in unison with my breath.

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Soon, the discomforts of my body and the thoughts that typically crowd in begin to recede into oblivion. After twenty minutes, I’m absorbed in “The Energy” in a gentle state of bliss. Thoughts still rush in beckoning attention, yet from this place the chatter gently passes without pulling me far from the moment.


The chamber slowly reduces its pressure. I use this as my opportunity to gently return to a state of awareness where we can bring the meditative state into the outer world. From this place, I gently leave the pale blue oxygen tube and hobble to my crutches.

Deborah, the assistant, is there to greet me and notices that I am in a bit of an altered state.

Deborah jubilantly asks, “Have you been misbehaving in there or meditating?”

I smiled without a need to answer.

Deborah continued, “I can’t meditate. Every time I try, I get nowhere. So, I’ve given up.”

I asked, “Do you have some idea of what is “supposed” to happen while you’re meditating?”

Deborah, “Well… I know my mind and body are supposed to be quiet and I am to sit up and keep my spine straight. The problem is that I ache after about five minutes of sitting and my spine slouches almost immediately.”

I inquired, “And your mind?”

Deborah, “Oh it’s a disaster! It jumps from thought to thought neverending. I try to stop the thoughts that run through. My head is quiet for maybe a second. It is so disappointing. So, I quit.”

I’ll share with you what I shared with Deborah that day: There are unlimited teachings out there on meditation. Some of the guidance may be supportive and some seems to take us further away from our intention. 

The easiest way through this is to keep it simple. First, drop all of the “shoulds”. I should sit up straight, I should not have any thoughts, I should be able to sit here for an hour, I should be happy, I should be present, etc.” These “shoulds” keep us from what is happening in the moment and take us into an idea that is a guideline, yet far from an absolute.

Simply, let go of any pre-conceived idea of what meditation is “supposed” to look like and set the intention to be present. Make this time committed to meditation and offering to the Self within you your highest potential. Once there, find something to focus on in the moment… this could be focusing on a candle, a flower, your breath or anything that will assist you in being present.

Next, just breathe naturally. Know there is nothing to get or give in this moment. All you need to do is be with the object of focus. Know that thoughts will inevitably come in… probably rather quickly.

Here’s the key: when the thoughts come in, you have the opportunity to catch them. When you catch them, there’s no need to push them out like unwanted garbage. What you do is, you see the thought and you choose to let it float through rather than engage it.

Similarly, if a chocolate addict was on a diet, but was given a small piece of chocolate every hour she would likely begin to eat it partly out of desire and partly out of habit. Yet, each hour the chocolate is doled out, we have the opportunity to choose to not eat this piece and not feed into the story around eating it or not eating it. We gently drop what pulls our focus from the diet or meditation and retrain into our intention of being present with the “NOW”.

The next thought will come and maybe this time you loose your focus completely and it takes five minutes before you catch it. So be it! Eventually, you catch it, let go of the story that came with the thought and you return to the moment with your breath and with the object you are focusing on.

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Notice if you want the meditation to be perfect and you are trying to make something happen. Can you be wherever you are without anything having to happen? Can you be fully accepting of the moment and what is and is not there? And, when you can’t, then can you accept that?

At some point, we catch the spinning of thoughts and then we begin from there. We’re not here to be perfect in meditation. We meditate to experience the truth and beauty of what is.

Whether we are just beginning or we have been steeped in meditation for decades, this premise remains the same.

Set the intention to be present,

Come present,

Notice your thoughts,

Eventually catch when you’ve trailed off,

Return to the moment and accept whatever unfolds.

Do this every day. – This is it!

Ring the bells that still can ring 

Forget your perfect offering 

There is a crack, a crack in everything 

That’s how the light gets in. 

That’s how the light gets in. 

That’s how the light gets in.

~ Leonard Cohen, “The Anthem”