How about 5 minutes a day of rest ? 10 minutes of peace? 15 minutes of renewal? 20 minutes of rejuvenation? You can have it all. Meditation can change the way you work……and change your life in the process. It has for me and I have been meditating for over 28 years……which is one reason that I am a calm and happy soul. If you would like to be able to
find harmony in your life and tap into your inner source of strength and wisdom…..then read on…….what do you have to lose?
Meditation needn’t involve sitting like a Buddha in your living room burning incense and chanting OHM for an hour every morning—it can if you’d like, but let’s be realistic here. Start off small. Commit to five minutes out of your day. Sit quietly, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and just be present in your body, in the moment. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
I don’t care how busy you are…we can all spare 5 minutes for something that enhances our well being. I find the best time to practice meditation is first thing in the morning upon waking. Otherwise, life tends to get in the way. If you absolutely cannot fathom sitting still for 5 minutes, make it a moving meditation. Take your dog out for a walk and instead of running through your to do list in your mind, reliving an argument with your spouse, or composing your lesson plans, clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Thoughts will pop in…that’s normal. Just acknowledge them, release them, and re-focus on your breath and being present.
Once you have mastered the 5 minutes in the morning, add in another 5 minutes right before going to bed. It will help you to get a restful night’s sleep…something all of us multi-tasking, goal oriented, stretched-too-thin people are in direct need of.
Imagine a bucket filled with water. Now add some sand into it and stir it around. The water looks all cloudy and agitated. Allow the bucket to sit and be still for awhile and the sand settles to the bottom leaving you with clear water……Clarity.
This is a wonderful analogy for what meditation does for the mind. Its simplicity struck me.
The constant chatter going on in our minds causes us to miss out on what is going on in our present lives. We tend to either live in the past or in the future in our minds, constantly planning for events that have yet to occur or reliving events long gone by. When we make a habit of investing the time to quiet these thoughts and practice being present, we can think more clearly, be more productive throughout the day, and approach our tasks from a place of inner wisdom and mindfulness.
Living mindfully means living in harmony with yourself and the rest of the world—waking up and paying attention to the present moment. If we are not fully present, we risk watching our life slip on by unnoticed, failing to live up to our full potential. Mindfulness is basically the direct opposite of taking your life for granted. Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, explains “to cultivate mindfulness, you may have to remember over and over again to be awake and aware”.
How Do I Get Started?
Anyway you get started is good. Meditation is a deeply personal experience that needs to work for you. Experimentation is often the initial way people begin this process. Finding something right for you is important.
Don’t get caught up in having to follow a method or technique. As I have written before, it took me some time to find comfortable, doable ways to practice. Remember, one of the important things (besides meditating) that you are doing in the doing of meditation is creating new neural habits as you establish a routine.
To help you to explore some ways to begin, here are some tips and resources to consider.
- Establishing a time and place – This is very important. You want to maximize your success by finding a time frame and location conducive to your practice. While Jon Kabat-Zinn recommends starting with 15 minutes (long enough he says “to get really bored and antsy and learn to make room for unpleasant moments”) I suggest that even if you only begin with 5 minutes, it’s a good thing. You can always build to 15 as you progress and build those new neural habits. You don’t need an ashram or to be surrounded by candles. You just need quiet. Once you grow in your practice, you’ll be able to drop into five minutes of stillness in many different settings.
- What do I do with my body? Relax it – this is the key. It will take some time to learn to let go and the place to do much of this work is in your body. You begin with several deep slow breaths, ideally those that come from your belly. Closing your eyes is preferable. Uncross your legs with the soles of your feet touching ground (unless you are in a cross-legged posture). Rest your hands on your lap or at your sides. You don’t need to have your hands in any kind of “mudra” like position.
- What do I do with my thoughts? Nothing – that’s the point. With mindfulness meditation, you are simply noticing what you experience and not trying to feel anything differently. Too many people bail out because they don’t think they felt anything different or special. Mindfulness meditation is not about getting anywhere else except where you are. Thoughts will arise. “This is boring,” “Why am I doing this?” “This is a waste,” etc. Feelings will come and go – frustration, impatience, even annoyance. Your “task” in the moment of sitting is simply to allow, non-judgmentally, all the ways you distract yourself from being in the present moment.