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I used to view meditation as the equivalent of letting go of all thoughts. And I held on to mine with clenched fists. Losing control of my thoughts was too familiar and I wasn't about to willingly release them. I have epilepsy and the feeling I have before a seizure is like a panic in that moment you realize you're about to be robbed. Only I'm robbed of my thoughts, robbed of physical control and clear thinking.

In my meditation practice, instead of letting my mind flit from one thought to the next, I try to focus on my breathing. I resolve to ignore all the tasks of the day.

I envision a taproot connecting my body to the floor. I have a strong sense of where I was in place and time.

I envision a point the size of a pin prick on the horizon of my mind. This isn't a black hole, void of all thoughts, but a point to focus on, like the eye of a storm where thoughts and worries swirl around it. In the center is a nucleus large enough to hold peace, and freedom from the chaos that often fills my day.

In our society, we seem to be in competition for who can claim to have the most frantic life. It's like an adrenaline rush that we get accustomed to and can't live without. A crowded calendar has become a status symbol. When was the last time you told someone you've had a very relaxing week? Some weeks I have. But I don't want to admit to the rest of world that I'm less busy and therefore less important.
Inhale. My body is grounded. Exhale. My mind is focused.

I am more than body and mind. I am also spirit. Spirit is at the heart of meditation. To have a richer spiritual life, I must have an open spirit.

My body is grounded. My mind is focused. My spirit is open.

To be open is to be receptive, but receptive to what? An open spirit is a willingness to listen and be receptive to God, the universe or whatever you choose to call your Higher Power. An open spirit allows us to explore life's possibilities. It can help clarify life's purpose. A clutter-free mind allows room for new thoughts, new ideas, a message we might not hear in our otherwise busy lives.

Meditation can remind us of the gifts we've been given and our need to share them.

Yes, 20 minutes is a long time for anyone to be quiet. But after months of practice, I'm able to not only sit still, but to meditate in a meaningful and intentional way.

My body is grounded.

My mind is focused.

My spirit is open to receiving God's love and sharing it with others.

Tracy Gulliver lives in Chisago City, Minn., and blogs at tracygulliver.blogspot.com. This essay is from her upcoming book, "Seized."

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