Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meditation? When? Where? Yeah right!

So, I was recently asked about meditation techniques and felt a little hypocritical giving them since it's been a super long time since I've actually meditated on a regular basis. Being home with a 2 year old who thinks I've turned into a jungle gym when I lay down on the floor to do some stretches makes any calming, meditative exercise a bit of a challenge. Actually, Anjali has really gotten into trying to do some of the yoga as well but she still loves to jump on her mama when I lie down...

Meditation - just the word can turn some people off, interest others or intimidate or sound extremely "boring." Well, I really like Thich Nhat Hanh's notion of mindfulness and the process of becoming mindful of our every action, thought and feeling. I also really believe that meditation in itself is very important but much more simple and attainable than many think. So, we can practice being mindful (or deeply aware) of our thoughts, feelings and actions when we sit to meditate and then little by little we will begin to carry that mindfulness and the mental calm and clarity with us through out our day to day.

Ok, ok, sounds great but how do I do it? Very simple but hard to find that jump-start motivation to just stop doing anything. We just want to do and do and do. Even now, I feel so excited to sit and do this post while Anjali is sleeping when I could be meditating... the right time will come.

When I am as out of practice as I am right now, I find it best to meditate in a quiet room with the symbols and objects that I connect to on a spiritual level. But there can be meditation without any spiritual connotations, if that isn't something you want or need. Even 5 minutes a day is a great practice of meditating. Make sure when you sit, you are comfortable. You can sit on the floor with a cushion designed for meditation, in a chair or up against a wall. Just be comfortable.

When you sit down, you may want to light a candle or some incense but this may also be distracting or if you have allergies could be bothersome. I will sometimes light a candle as most incense irritates my sinuses these days. Now, here comes the good news. Meditation is NOT about eliminating all thought from the mind. It is more about calming the mind and not getting swept away by all the hundreds of thoughts flowing around in our minds. I can't remember which book I read this from but think of your thoughts as a river current and that normally we are all just being swept away but this current of thoughts. Well, meditation is a process that allows us to swim to the side of the river and sit on the banks and watch the thoughts go by. We notice them, recognize them, deal with them appropriately and then let them float on by. Usually as I am meditating, I try to become aware of the random sounds I hear and tell myself what they are: "I hear a bird." "I hear the air turning on." To help me from being swept away by the "Oh, I've gotta get laundry detergent when I go to the store today, oh, I can't forget to put in on the list when I'm done meditating, and oh yeah, there's a load of laundry in the washer that I forgot to put in the dryer and I need to get some new sweaters because it'll be fall soon and......." The thoughts go on and on and on don't they? It's like a chain of events that are being played out in our minds. So, if that happens when I'm meditating, as soon as I become mindful of the fact that I've just been swept away by the thought current, I stop, swim to the side of the river and say, thanks thoughts for the ride, but I'm just going to sit here and breathe in and out and I'll attend to you when I'm done. So, we're not going to ignore the things we need to do but we don't want the thoughts of them to carry us away on a nervous current of "oh my I have so much to do."

Be patient with yourself but continue to push yourself to face challenges, whatever they may be.

Be mindful, breathe in, breathe out. Smile. :-)

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