Virtual Programming: Guided Meditation Brings Focus and Calm

When CALS libraries had to close their doors to the public according to CDC guidelines, our staff sought ways to bring helpful library programming online.  And in a world where the ground seems to be constantly shifting underfoot with every daily newscast, many of us are seeking ways to maintain a positive and peaceful mindset.

Courtney Frazier Jones of the CALS Terry Library knew that her experience with meditation might help others find an oasis of centered calm in the day. She has now created a series of short, guided online meditations on the CALS YouTube channel.

Jones has been interested in meditation for over twenty years, but lately has become more dedicated to practicing it. “I’ve only in the last year or two gotten any good at it and really pursued it seriously and made it part of daily life,” she said.

Jones has found great personal benefit from her meditation, which she describes with candor and humor, confessing that as passionate creative person, she needs ways to chill out, be more reflective and at times, just get a better night’s sleep.

“I have a lot of creative energy,” she said. “I’ve always been very highly strung from a creative perspective and always have to have a project. And at some point, that just kinda becomes overwhelming.”

“My brain is going all the time and the older I got, the harder it became to concentrate on one thing at a time or to go to sleep at night. I’m a big gardener, and I get so excited in the spring!” Jones said with a chuckle.  “There would be nights in the spring when I would maybe not even fall asleep until 5 in the morning because I was thinking about projects.”

“I’m not a big believer in doing anything medicinally before you absolutely have to, so I always try to come up with the holistic solution before I go any other route. So, with the invention of all these meditation apps, it has just become so much easier to focus on meditation. And about a year ago I began studying at the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock.”

Jones has found that her new commitment to regular meditation has major personal rewards, both for productivity and relationships.

“It helps me in two main ways: it helps me so much to focus on the project that I have to complete at the time, whether it’s washing the dishes, or a project for work, or getting a kid ready for something.”

Jones continued as a smile spread across her face. “And the other thing is that I am from long line of quick-tempered people, and not just quick tempered, but emotionally tempered! We are passionate, highly strung people and that is not always easy to live with!”

“My poor husband is an only child and grew up in a family that was quiet and reserved, and I have had to learn to slow down and not fly off the handle, and not just say the first thing that comes to mind,” Jones said, still gently poking fun at herself.

“And meditation has given the ability to slow down and see from other people’s perspectives, and just listen to something in my own head before I put it out there in the world. It’s just been remarkably helpful. And I’m still not good at it all the time, but I’m so much better about it than I used to be.  I’m no less passionate, but I care less and less about my voice being part of the conversation.”

When the library re-opens for programming onsite, Jones plans to offer live, guided meditations at the Terry Library, having seen a need and a desire for it from library users who have appreciated the online versions.

“Meditation is just another way to both make yourself accountable and to do something really nice for yourself,” Jones said.  “Because people deserve it—people are good and we deserve something good in our day. We have to have stress relief and an outlet, and for me, this has been it.”

Jones wants to help spread the understanding that meditation, contrary to stereotypes, is not “weird” or necessarily attached to any particular religion or spiritual tradition.  Anyone from any religious background or a secular perspective can benefit from meditation.

Check out online meditation offerings from Courtney Frazier Jones at the CALS Virtual Programming Health and Wellness playlist.

For those who are interested in further reading, Jones recommends Dan Harris’s 10 Percent Happier as an introduction to meditation that is not based on a religious tradition.

Readers interested in a tradition of meditation with a stronger influence of Buddhist philosophy may appreciate Mindfulness and the Brain, a collaboration between well-known meditation proponent Jack Kornfield and neurobiologist Dr. Daniel Siegel.

For more meditation through CALS Virtual Programming, join Cory Jones of Compassion Works for All for meditation through Zoom at noon on Monday, May 18. Cory’s live meditations will take place on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month at noon.