I thought I was meditating every time I planted myself by my backyard fountain to force a quiet moment in my head. I was actually just thinking…. of everything. I would seriously tell myself ‘I’m meditating” and then I would go through my to do list in my head. A few times I was tempted to get up and start making the calls or sending emails. If you are anything like me (Type A+, over achiever, perpetual multi-tasker, etc).. you may find it difficult to really sink into a meditation where your mind seeps into the “space between thoughts” During my Ayurvedic studies, my mentors always talked about that concept – “the space between thoughts”. How do you get there? Maybe right before you doze off? Well, that’s happened to me many times when I first started. It wasn’t until I took some advice and made a firm commitment to a meditation practice that I started to REALLY experience the benefits. However, your environment can affect your ability to reach that “space between thoughts”. If you can’t bring yourself to silence or turn off your cell phone, forget it! You won’t meditate. The Sacred Spot in Bali Now, you don’t need travel 10,000 miles and immerse yourself in a spiritual culture like I did to reach a meditation breakthrough. I just happened to have a profound experience during a meditation in Seririt, the northern area of Bali. I stayed three nights at the Zen Resort and the program included a 6:30am meditation class led by Dr. Vijay, the Ayurvedic physician on staff. The morning sessions were held on this beautiful three tiered stone platform, built on the edge of a very steep drop into a lush valley of green. The left platform houses the Sacred Spot or “Nirvanam Tree Tops Sanctuary” I was told by the staff that wondrous things happen to people meditating on that spot- a revelation, an epiphany, a sense of lasting relief or clarity. For some reason there is a vortex of spiritual energies that collide in that small 9 square foot space. Local monks apparently claim that spot for meditation periodically. However, I spent every morning session distracted by the beautiful views of lush greenery and the ocean in the distance (and of course swatting the black flies which like to stick to your skin). The first day, I had a personal conversation with myself while everyone else seemed to be in some blissful state. “Wow, I can’t believe I’m here! I’m so fortunate. I should’ve booked the seven day package. What was I thinking? That’s an interesting looking bird!” Maybe if I stayed there a full week I would’ve learned how to thwart those distractions. I still had a breakthrough, but not during the class. On my last day I skipped the evening meditation, grabbed some cushions and ventured out alone to the Sacred Spot as the sun was setting. I sat in silence for half hour. Thankfully the black flies had somewhere else to be. I followed Dr. Vijay’s advice: just listen to the sounds around you. That was it! By listening to my environment, my mind shifted away from that conversation in my head. It’s like listening to classical music and focusing on the sounds of each individual instrument. The profound experience lasted about 30 seconds: a strange but comforting sensation traveled through my body from head downwards and everything started to sound distant, like I was underwater. Then, tears spilled for no apparent reason. I assumed it was a release because when I broke out of it, I felt a little spacey, completely relaxed, happy and peaceful (similar to the feeling I had after the water blessing by the Maharishi few days prior. Click HERE to read about that experience). My shoulder pain subsided so I tested it and no pain nor restrictions as I moved it in all directions. This mental effect remained with me all the way back to America 2 days later. I couldn’t explain it. I’m not sure what it meant but since then I’ve been able to meditate more easily, even back here in America. Maybe I opened myself up to receiving whatever messages and signs were trying to reach me. And things became clearer, like the light bulb that goes off in your head! Since that moment, I’ve been more conscious and aware of everything around me.. more in tuned with other people’s feelings, especially my patients, which that to me is a blessing! Reaching that space between thoughts is not so impossible anymore. Remember, you don’t need to venture far away to find a Sacred Spot. It’s about finding a place that allows you to sit, breathe and relax so your mind can slowly relax. It may be a place in nature or simply a corner in your bedroom. I know someone who set up a meditation space in her walk in closet… her way of hiding from the family! The power of meditation is more profound than I ever imagined. Just listen and accept the sounds of your environment as your vehicle to a peaceful state…assuming you turn off the phone.