What’s It Like To Meditate In A Wheelchair?
As a meditation teacher I often use guided meditations as a means to help center and quiet the mind.
It has been my experience that the most popular guided meditations are “walking on the beach” at day break and the “mountain” meditation. Both of these meditations require the ability to walk. That may sound normal, but what if you are physically disabled and your only means of getting around is through a wheelchair? The sand and/or climbing a mountain just might be an activity that they just can’t do.
It is easy to take for granted the ability to move around freely without needing someone to push you from place to place. Using these types of guided meditations during the course I teach on Calm Mind Meditation, it never even occurred to me that not everyone in the class is capable of imagining what walking in the sand feels like or climbing that mountain, feeling the earth below your feet until I met Andy.
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Lessons from Andy
Andy is a student of meditation. He is extremely bright, funny and kind. He has cerebral palsy and because of that, he is confined to a wheelchair. I have gotten to know him pretty well over the years and do not even see him as disabled, just a grown man who genuinely believes in the practice and all of the benefits meditation delivers.
We got to talking recently and he finally shared with me his thoughts on the guided meditations that involve imaging yourself walking or climbing and how he can’t relate. That was a real eye opener for me and it got me thinking how I can be a better meditation guide/teacher.
Andy was kind enough to let me interview him, to get a disabled person’s perspective. I asked him some questions and I’d like to share the interview with the readers of this blog.
1. Why did you start meditating?
To combat anxiety and depression.
2. How long have you been practicing?
3. How often do you meditate?
Daily – Sometimes twice a day for 20 minutes. If the weather is good outside or in my bedroom.
4. What has changed for you since you have been meditating?
I’ve had less anxiety and my depression episodes have been less frequent.
5. Has meditation affected your relationships with others?
I think that meditation has made me more caring. I do lot of random acts of kindness for friends of mine. (I’m one of those lucky ones)
6. Being in a wheelchair, has that had a bearing on your practice?
Yes, it’s one of the few things I can do independently. It also helps me relate to able-bodied people….both things I like.
7. Would you recommend meditation to other physically disabled people? Why?
Certainly. It can be done without assistance from others and it doesn’t need to be adapted in any way if an individual has spastic cerebral palsy like myself. It would help to relax him or her.
8. What are the benefits you have gained from meditating?
I’ve been less frustrated and calmer. Meditation puts me in a better state of mind.
Andy is accompanied to the class by his father who also takes the course with him, a remarkable bond I have the privilege to witness. I am a better teacher because of these two fine men.
So, in conclusion, no matter what type of physical being you process, meditation is universal. Pass it along.
With loving-kindness I write these words to share with all.
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