#Todayismysomeday Series: Okay guys – Decide Your Life Inc. and #WIBN are teaming up to encourage YOU to make #todayyoursomeday. Today I re-discovered why I need to commit to mindfulness and meditation as a daily practice in my life. What is your “Today is my Someday?” – leave a comment, share a blog post, tweet up. Putting it in writing makes it real. Please share with us today!
There is really no better day in my opinion then today (#TodayismySomeDay) to commit to something. This morning I woke up exhausted after a busy weekend. My son turned 10 on Sunday and we had a family party. It was an emotional milestone for me. Feelings from his birth came back to me – good ones for the most part but also some memories that were not so good. It wasn’t long after he was born that I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression. Sleepless nights, panic attacks (starting the day I came home from the hospital) and anxiety. I lost the ability to make easy decisions. Every decision around my son Ronan seemed so crucial. How could I decide? Turns out when you are depressed means you are chemically get effected – your ability to go with gut instincts and make decisions are impaired – all your great senses for what to do in every day decisions – goes out the window! During this time was also when I took a course developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn called “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) through my local hospital. I learned how to reduce stress through meditation and mindfulness over a six week period that ended with a one day retreat in silence.
The journey of his birth was the start of huge changes in me. I feel after his birth I was on the way to becoming the person I wanted to be. The journey has made me reflective last few days. I realized after my walk this morning that mediation is what I currently need in my life to counter the crazy speed in which my life is going. I commit to it. This I announce to the world. Here is the story of how I got there:
As I walked back from dropping my youngest to school I could feel that my breath was out of whack. I was nervous and I wasn’t sure why. I decide to walk past my house and go around the block. Then I got to the turning back point and decide I had to go further. So I did. I walked to the creek near our house. It is a beautiful, hidden gem that is almost always abandoned.
I felt I needed to hear the sound of the creek and get in touch with my body. So I found an opening to the creek bed with a perfect rock to sit on where I took 4 breaths in and out repeatedly. At first I closed my eyes and waited for the thoughts to come up. I knew they would. But instead of judging them or getting wrapped up in the emotion of those thoughts I instead decided to just breath through them – with them.
After a while I opened my eyes. I saw a red cardinal in the tree across the creek. I was stuck by how beautiful it was against the last of the yellow leaves on the tree. Then I saw what I thought was a squirrel on closer examination I realized it was a baby beaver.
I kept on breathing 4 counts in and 4 counts out.
When I stopped I stood up I faced the opposite direction and did a standing mediation pose, drawing awareness to how each part of my body was currently feeling. It was very peaceful. Once I finished I started walking back through the park. I saw juniper leaves with water drops so vividly. I was completely in the moment of my surroundings. I had no phone, took no pictures – as this was completely for me. Not for Facebook or Instagram. I realized with a strong awareness that I had to bring meditation into my life everyday to deal with the demons and to get ahead with my business. It is my number one goal now to achieve to get to the next level.
Today is my some day to get started.
If you regularly have busy brain, feel unfocused, get angry easily, feel fearful or experience anxiety please consider the benefits of meditation.
The following is broken down for you into sections:
- What is meditation
- How to Meditate
- Considerations for embracing meditation as lifestyle practice
What is Meditation (Wikipedia definition):
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of the training.
Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state—such as anger, hatred, etc.—or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.” In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.
How to Meditate:
1. Choose a peaceful environment.
Meditation should be practiced somewhere calming and peaceful. This will enable you to focus exclusively on the task at hand and avoid bombarding your mind with outside stimuli. Try to find somewhere that you will not be interrupted for the duration of your meditation – whether it’s five minutes or half an hour. The space does not need to be very large – a walk-in closet or even your office can be used for meditation, as long as it’s somewhere private.
- For those new to meditation, it’s especially important to avoid any external distractions. Turn off TV sets, the phone or other noisy appliances. If you play music, choose calm, repetitive and gentle tunes, so as not to break your concentration. Another option is to turn on a small water fountain – the sound of running water can be extremely calming.
- Understand that the meditation space does not need to be completely silent, so there should be no need to reach for the earplugs. The sound of a lawnmower running or the dog barking next door shouldn’t prevent effective meditation. In fact, being aware of these noises but not letting them dominate your thoughts is an important component of successful meditation.
- Meditating outside works for many meditators. As long as you don’t sit near a busy roadway or another source of loud noise, you can find peace under a tree or sitting upon some lush grass in a favorite corner of the garden.
2. Wear comfortable clothes. One of the major goals of meditation is to calm the mind and block out external factors – however, this can be difficult if you feel physically uncomfortable due to tight or restrictive clothing. Try to wear loose clothing during meditation practice and make sure to remove your shoes.
- Wear a sweater or cardigan if you plan on meditating someplace cool. If you don’t, the sensation of being cold will consume your thoughts and you will be tempted to cut your practice short.
- If you are in the office, or somewhere that you can’t easily change your clothes, do your best to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Take off your shoes and jacket, open the collar of your shirt or blouse and remove your belt.
- You should also try to meditate at the same time each day – whether it’s 15 minutes first thing in the morning, or five minutes on your lunch hour. Whatever time you choose, try to make meditation an unshakable part of your daily routine.
- Once you have decided on a time frame, try to stick to it. Don’t just give up because you feel like it isn’t working – it will take time and practice to achieve successful meditation – right now, the most important thing is to keep trying.
- Although you will want to keep track of your meditation time, it is not beneficial to be constantly checking your watch. Think about setting a gentle alarm to alert you when your practice is up, or time your practice to end with a certain event – such as your partner getting out of bed, or the sun hitting a certain spot on the wall.
4. Stretch out (Time Permitting) . Meditation involves sitting in one spot for a certain period of time, so it is important to minimize any tension or tightness before you begin. Doing a couple of minutes of light stretching can really help to loosen you up and prepare both your body and mind for meditation. It will also prevent you from focusing on any sore spots instead of relaxing your mind.
- Remember to stretch your neck and shoulders, especially if you’ve been sitting in front of a computer, and don’t forget your lower back. Stretching out your legs, particularly those on the inner thigh, can be helpful when meditating in the lotus position.
- More information on specific stretching techniques can be found here.
5. Sit in a comfortable position. As stated above, it is very important that you are comfortable while you meditate, which is why finding the best position for you is essential. Traditionally, meditation is practiced by sitting on a cushion on the ground, in a lotus, or half-lotus position. Unless your legs, hips, and low back are very flexible, lotus postures tend to bow your low back and prevent you from balancing your torso around your spine. Choose a posture that allows you to be balanced tall and straight.
6. Follow your breathing. The most basic and universal of all meditation techniques, breathing meditation is a great place to start your practice. Pick a spot above your navel and focus on that spot with your mind. Become aware of the rising and falling of your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Don’t make a conscious effort to change your breathing patterns, just breathe normally. Don’t worry if your mind starts to wander – you are a beginner and, like anything, becoming good at meditation takes practice. Just make an effort to refocus your mind on your breathing and try to think of nothing else. Drown out the chatter and attempt to clear your mind.
Considerations for embracing meditation as lifestyle practice
- Use mantras to get through difficult tasks and in your meditation practice
- Use visualization to help you focus
- Concentrate on a single object
- Try walking meditations (or Labrinth paths)
- Do a body scan before and after meditating
- Try heart chakra meditation. The heart chakra is one of seven chakras, or energy centers, located within the body. The heart chakra is located in the center of the chest and is associated with love, compassion, peace and acceptance. Heart chakra meditation involves getting in touch with these feelings and sending them out into the world
- Practice mindfulness in your everyday life. Meditation doesn’t have to be limited to strictly defined practice sessions, you can also practice mindfulness throughout your day to day life.
- For example, in moments of stress, try to take a few seconds to focus solely on your breathing and empty your mind of any negative thoughts or emotions.
- You can also practice mindfulness while you eat, becoming aware of the food and of the sensations you experience as you eat.
- No matter what actions you perform in your day to day life, whether it’s sitting at a computer or sweeping the floor, try to become more aware of your body’s movements and how you feel in the present moment. This is living mindfully
Follow a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle can contribute to more effective and beneficial meditation, so try to eat healthily, exercise and get enough sleep. You should also avoid watching too much television, or drinking or smoking before meditation, as these activities can numb the mind and prevent you from achieving the level of concentration necessary for successful meditation
Read spiritual books. Though not for everyone, some people find that reading spiritual books and sacred writings can help them to further understand meditation and inspire them to strive for inner peace and spiritual understanding.
- Some good books to start with include A Profound Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life by the Dalai Lama, The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts, A new earth by Eckhart tolle and One-Minute Mindfulness by Donald Altman.
- If you wish, you can pick out any nuggets of wisdom that resonate with you from any spiritual or sacred texts and reflect on them during your next meditation session.
- I am a huge fan of Danielle LaPorte’s the Desire Map that focuses on “How you want to feel” = she is an awesome spiritual guide. Women in Biz Network offers Desire Map Workshops – so please join us by consulting our events calendar.
Content sources: http://www.wikihow.com/Meditate and Wikipedia