I often mention meditation here and that’s because I’m a big believer that meditation is a key to living life in the zone. It’s the way I check in on the core of myself, because in constantly trying to keep the brain occupied, we can fail to truly listen to our hearts. It’s also a pathway to give myself grace in simply being. I could wax rhapsodic about the benefits of meditation, but instead I want to share with you some different ways of giving yourself the gift of a little nothingness. Personally, I’ve found that it is critical to the well-being of my mind, body and soul to stop for a few moments each day, and not think.
Many of my clients insist that mediation would never work for them. They imagine the need for incense, Buddha statues and perfect yoga poses. They tell me that they are practical and meditation is all about mystical whoo hoo stuff. They tell me that their lives are too busy to spend any part of their day doing nothing. The truth is: when you first try to meditate, all those assumptions may feel valid. Often, the fear of what your Lizard Brain or Inner Critic has to say to you may keep you from trying mediation. They will also insist that meditation is a waste of your time.
I understand all of these fears, because I’ve felt them too, but I know that you can do it. Grab a little bit of courage and give it a try!
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You aren’t committing oodles of time to a mediation practice. You are going to begin with three minutes a day. It is a practice of learning a new skill. It isn’t perfect. It takes time to build some stamina. Grab a timer and set it for three minutes. I have faith that you can do anything for three minutes! And as you begin to fine tune the technique (or techniques) that work for you, you gradually add a little time.
I don’t recommend guided meditations for the beginner for this reason: most meditations you download will be for 10 to 30 minutes. Move slowly into your practice so that you build stamina instead of burning out.
One of my favorite ways to mediation is in quiet. Sit on the floor or in a chair and be physically still. Slowly breathe in and out and focus on your breathing. As thoughts come, allow them to float by you. Some thoughts will be brought to the surface by your Lizard Brain. Some thoughts will be brought to the surface by your Inner Critic. Thoughts are not who you are.
If you become distracted with your thoughts, try one of these visualizations:
- Bees – each of your thoughts is a bee and their hive is in the center of your stomach, right behind your belly button. As a thought surfaces, remind yourself it’s just a bee, gently grab its wings and place it back in the hive. Continue to repeat this process. Some thoughts are persistent and continue to escape the hive, don’t handle these so long that they will sting you, simply continue to be gentle with yourself as each little bee gets placed back in the hive
- Rock in a Stream – you are a rock placed in the middle of a fast moving stream. Your thoughts are the stream. Simply allow them to flow around you.
- Ticker Tape – imagine your thoughts being written down as the scrawl of stock quotes on a financial news show. You don’t attach to any of the thoughts, you just allow them to go across the screen. You may find comfort in identifying the thoughts with a single feeling – like fear, pain, worry, etc. Allow them to flow by without attaching any meaning to them.
I personally find a special energy in churches. When I travel, one of my favorite activities is to explore historic churches. Now, I’m not suggesting that you join a convent or need to begin attending a religious service on a regular basis. I am suggesting that you visit a beautiful church. I’m not talking about the attendance of a religious service, but physically placing yourself in a church before or after a service. You don’t have to be Catholic to visit a beautiful Cathedral. Allow the sacred space and energy feed you. Kneel in prayer and allow your thoughts to flow to God.
Sometimes, I cannot still both my mind and my body. Go for a level of activity that allows you to move rhythmically without struggle. Go for a walk or a run. The rhythmic actions of your feet hitting the pavement will allow your thoughts to flow out. I’m also a huge fan of retreating to the kitchen where fresh vegetables and a sharp knife provide me a cocoon of meditation. There is a kind of magic in the repetitive motion of chopping and slicing, and the soothing scents of the fresh food. Getting out into nature also works well for active mediation, for you feed your need to move with the smells and feels of the world around you.
The more regularly you bring mediation into your world, the more you will find that a few moments of doing “nothing” will accomplish more than you could imagine. I know of no better way to listen to the voice of your heart than by learning to embrace nothingness. I have complete faith that you can do it. I’d love to hear your favorite techniques for mediation or the results of your experiments in mediation.
(Image is: At Your Service by Gil Elvgren)