***image1***Meditation. The word alone conjures up an image of a person sitting cross-legged in a lush, tranquil garden, eyes closed, outfitted in comfortable yet stylish clothing, wearing a peaceful look, soft and soothing music playing magically in the background. Reality — what little green space you have is filled with crab grass, your comfortable clothing isn’t remotely stylish, your to-do list is a mile long, the phone is ringing off the hook and the dog next door hasn’t stopped barking in years.
I suspect there are a lot of us who find the idea of meditation very appealing, but the act incredibly mysterious. It seems nearly impossible to be still long enough in this busy, hectic world to achieve any kind of tranquility. That seems to be accessible only to those who are already calm and relaxed.
Well, get ready. I’m here to tell you that you can meditate simply and easily — every day. No complicated positions, props or classes needed. All you need is a desire to find a little peace, a little serenity in your busy day. I am not an expert in meditation. On the contrary, I have struggled with trying to meditate regularly for years. I finally found a simple, accessible way to still myself. What it’s done for me is to help me gain balance and focus in my life.
A Quiet Space
First, find a quiet space where you will be uninterrupted for 15-20 minutes. This can be anywhere — inside or outside. I have a little corner outside my back door I go to when the weather’s nice; my bedroom works well for inclement weather. A house full of kids? Find a spot they’re unlikely to frequent — say, the laundry room — or the bathroom, attic or basement.
When you meditate is also important. For some it may be early in the morning, before the rest of the house is stirring. For others, it may be in the evening, or even later at night, when the house is quiet again. Meditating before bed may help you sleep better — maybe even bring helpful dreams. Experiment with different times until you find your ‘hour of power.’ Once you find the best time to relax, you are more apt to keep at it daily. Eventually, you may even develop the ability and desire to meditate twice a day (I’m still working on that).
Next, get comfortable. If sitting on the floor with your legs crossed is comfortable, then by all means use that method. For me, sitting in a straight-backed chair, feet flat on the floor, hands palms up resting on my thighs is the most comfortable position. I know others who lie down on a bed. The key is being at ease, so whatever position will help you to relax and be still for 15-20 minutes is correct for you.
Take a few deep breaths, exhaling forcefully, but comfortably, to release tension. Now, breathe in deeply but gently from your belly. You know you’re breathing correctly if your stomach pushes outward when inhaling. Then breathe out, again deeply but gently. Mantras, which are merely words or sounds you ‘say’ in your mind, may help. These give your conscious mind something to focus on. Sounds like ho when inhaling, hum when exhaling. One friend ‘says’ the word love when inhaling, peace when exhaling.
At first, you will probably experience many different thoughts racing through your mind. This is normal. Don’t try to ignore them or force them away — that will only distract and frustrate you. Allow them to come, acknowledge them, let go of them. All the while, breathe in…so/love…breathe out…hum/peace…
As you become relaxed, you may notice your arms, hands, legs or other parts of your body begin to twitch a little. That’s normal, too. Just keep breathing in and out. If you have to cough or sneeze or itch, go ahead. Be natural. Remember, the goal here is to relax and be still for a period of time, not become the next enlightened prophet.
As you relax and are at rest longer, you may notice other thoughts popping into your mind — other than the things-to-do kind of thoughts you experienced in the beginning. These may seem more like messages. Again, acknowledge them, set them aside. Keep breathing. In…out…in…out.
Open your eyes
After about 20 minutes or so, open your eyes. Be still for a moment longer. Look around. Think about how you feel. You may want to stretch before getting up. Do what feels natural.
Take a moment to write about your meditation experience in a journal or calendar. This doesn’t have to be anything lengthy — or profound. Just a few notes about whether it was easier or more difficult in a particular room or at a particular time of the day. Doing this will help you to keep track of your meditation journey and determine your ‘hour of power.’
On Your Way
With time, and practice, you will find that it becomes easier to relax during meditation — as well as at other times during the day. You will also find that you can go deeper into the meditative state, find a more profound sense of peace and serenity in all areas of your life, and become more focused.
After you’ve mastered the ability to meditate regularly — to just be still through focused breathing — you may want to do other types of meditation. There are meditations for just about anything — healing, opening chakras, connecting to Universal teachings and more. Remember those ‘messages’ you sometimes receive? These are communications from your higher self — your authentic self. You can develop another meditation time to pay attention to and reflect on them.
Don’t give up. Keep going. You really can do this — every day.
For more information on this or Donna Baker Church, visit www.awordchick.com