Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember How Nice It Felt When Your Kids Were Young, But No Longer Nappers, And You Had Them Spend A Little 'Quiet Time' In Their Room? The Feeling You Had When That Quiet Started Is The Same One You Get Meditating. Start Now.

The word 'meditation' conjures up images of gongs, incense, and sitars for some, but don't get hung up on the cliches surrounding this activity.  Meditation is about just getting quiet.  And still.  Two things that are hard to achieve these days without some concerted effort.  And two things we must have in our lives if we're going to thrive and be our best each and every day.

I've been attempting to meditate regularly over the last couple years and I do feel better, happier and more present as a result.  I still get crabby and mopey from time to time, but I think those emotional stretches have become less frequent and less intense overall.  I truly recommend giving meditation a try and by starting it now, as the holidays kick off, it'll help you feel your most festive and centered through the entire holiday season.

While I'm certainly no expert, I've noticed there are a few keys to my personal practice - maybe these will be useful to you too.  First of all, go to a quiet place and shut the door.  It doesn't matter if you use your bedroom, your car, or the bathroom - you just need some solitude.

Sit up.  Don't think you can meditate laying down or lounging back on bed pillows.  I've tried and you end up falling asleep.  Sit somewhere and use the best posture you can muster up at the time.  I sit on a yoga brick on the floor - it's nice to elevate yourself a little if your doing a floor sit so use a yoga brick or a pillow or blanket to raise yourself up.  Or, sit on the edge of a chair with your feet on the floor.

Do something with your hands.  I like to lay my hands on my knees with the palms up (I heard somewhere that makes you more receptive), but I also like to touch my index finger and thumb together.  If I'm not feeling super calm I've found holding a warm cup of tea or coffee in both hands gives me something to focus on.  Putting your hands in a prayer position can also feel good.  Or put them on your heart.  Just don't let them just hang there.  It feels weird.

Focus your brain.  Your mind will turn into a three-year-old child when you first start out.  Just try to ignore its constant commenting and work on getting quiet.  Counting to a particular number on your inhalations and exhalations can give you something to do at this point.  Sometimes it's nice to use a mantra.  Or say a single word (in your head, not with your mouth) when you exhale - I like 'peace', 'love' or 'thank you', but you could say 'cheeseburger' if it meant something to you and get the same result.  Or try just listening to the natural sounds around you.

After doing this for a while, you may feel for a moment this sense of nothing and everything all at the same time.  That's what we're looking for.  Sometimes it lasts for just a bit and sometimes it can go on for a while, but that's the sweet spot.  Enjoy it for however long you can get it to last.  And when you feel like you're done, then be done.  Then do it again tomorrow.  And the next day and the day after that.

At the end I like to smile (just turning the corners of my mouth up, not like the Cheshire Cat) and say 'thank you.'  It just sends me off on a good note.

So there you are.  Give it just a little try over this holiday season.  You'll feel like you have more time to get things done, you'll be more present for all the festivities, and you'll be merrier in general.  Enjoy.

I'm wearing this today.

It feels like spring, so I'm going sleeveless.   A cardigan will be tossed on should the weather suddenly remember it's November.

gratitude:  fabric swatches, pencils, pasta, staying up too late chatting as a family

thanks and love.

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