For me, meditation is like clean eating -- I feel great when I do it but I'm not always very good at staying disciplined (I'm getting better with both though). Over the years I've explored my meditation options. I've tried different techniques and although I've found one that I prefer above all others, I'm always open to new techniques. I suppose that's why my curiosity was peaked when I learned of two new items promising zen-like meditative states. The funny thing is -- neither involve meditating!
My Beating Heart is a heart-shaped pillow with a twist -- it has a micro chip inside that transmits the pulsing and sound of a heart beat. According to the Web site, this cuddly pillow is "designed to help you relax, daydream, meditate, and take delicious naps." I was a bit intrigued by the delicious naps promise so I got myself one of the fuzzy style pillows. The Web site offers a lot of information about the technology inside of the pillow and promises that the heart of whoever hugs this pillow will adapt to and beat in tune with the pillow's heartbeat, which models the heartbeat of one in a deeply meditative state. I've heard of stuffed animals emitting human heartbeat sounds in order to soothe babies, but I've long since grown out of my pampers.
Perhaps it was this little reminder of being in the womb that inspired me, but I figured that trying out the pillow would be fun. After all, if it turned out to be a dud, I could use it as a throw pillow. I admit that at first I was a bit freaked out by the beating. I also found it a bit difficult to position the pillow correctly -- the heart shape makes it tricky and the tag that contains the switch is stiff and scratchy. I loved the fleecy softness of the pillow though(this is coming from someone who didn't have a "blankey" as a child, so that says a lot) and after a while I started to like the feeling of the heartbeat (I actually found it to be soothing). Perhaps it's my imagination, but the pillow seems to heat up a bit as it beats.
I don't feel like a Zen monk just yet, but I will say that the times I go to sleep with the My Beating Heart pillow (it shuts off after 20 minutes so you don't have to worry about draining the battery after a long night's sleep) I sleep veeeeery deeply. Once I went to bed when I was a bit upset about something and the pillow lulled me into a peaceful slumber. This little goody brings out the child in me and I've actually gotten attached to the thing. No, I'm not quite like a child with a "blankey" but it's a staple by my bedside. The price can be a bit steep once you add on tax (because I live in NY) and shipping, but I have to say that it was worth it. My Beating Heart does deliver on the delicious nap promise.
The second item is also something that brought me back to childhood. Ah, those days that I actually owned a transistor radio -- they were good ones. The FM3 Buddha Machine looks like a colorful little transistor radio, but it has a bit of a twist. It's actually a mini soundbox that plays 9 different loops of ambient sound that promises to lull you into a state of bliss. I am actually listening to one of those loops now and I'm feeling preeety darned happy. This little machine (which comes in a variety of cool colors and is shipped out randomly so you get a little surprise when you receive it) is about half the price of the heart pillow, it comes with it's own battery, and it has a headphone jack so you can take it on the road. No folks, this isn't an iPod -- it's a cheap little plastic soundbox that plays delightful music.
I love mine. It offers great background music for whatever I'm doing. And because it's so inexpensive, it's no wonder that it's become a bit of a sensation. You can purchase it from Forced Exposure (that's where I got mine and they shipped it out immediately) or from Gaiam. At this point, folks have caught onto this little Buddha Machine wonder so it's a bit tough to get. Last I checked, Gaiam was sold out. I don't think it's reached Cabbage Patch Doll status in terms of supply /demand issues but it's quite popular. I can definitely see why. I love my mean, green (that's the color I got) Buddha Machine.
OMG, the My Beating Heart pillow sounds adorable. In terms of feeling meditative without meditating, I find that being in the presence of a small child or a pet is very helpful, because they are so darn open and in the moment. It's hard not to have that magic rub off on yo a bit.
That beating heart pillow sounds fantastic! I think I'm going to try one out because I really like the idea of getting in tune with something external to soothe you into a meditative state. I think it might help make the transition easier because that's what I most often have trouble with. As you mentioned, the discipline factor can be an issue for me too so I think it's a great idea.
Another one I use is to ritualise a simple task - like making a cup of tea. If I slow it right down, and make each element an experience, a moment of meditation in motion then I find I can more easily slip into a meditative frame of mind and then sit down and really focus. That one helps a lot because even when other people and distractions are around I find I can manage it.
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