We often see the image of a person in meditation sitting much like the Buddha, legs crossed, hands in mudra and a smile upon the face. It’s a great image: it looks so simple, so peaceful, so easy!!!! But for many of us it feels difficult to find stillness and silence in our chaotic lifestyles. The good news is you’re already practicing some type of meditation or mindfulness. It’s just a matter of broadening the skills you already have that will allow you to create your own meditation practice.
FOCUS: Maybe you have a yoga practice, or some serious gardening or baking skills. That’s your ability to focus and be in the moment. Uniting with an interest, and understanding the details and nuances of something until it becomes natural to you, is its own meditation. The mind becomes clear and the gardener is no longer just pulling weeds; the gardener becomes a part of the transformation of the garden, a co-creator. Just as a yogi transforms her body into a breathing sequence of movements, we become one with our work. Simply put, it’s focus.
MINDFULNESS: We have the ability to wake up everyday and acknowledge our state of wakefulness. Taste our tea and chew our food. Have you ever just sat in nature and basked in its beauty? How many birds can you hear? What’s that nagging feeling in your gut? Teaching ourselves to be in our bodies through our everyday actions helps us acknowledge the richness of our lives and also tap into the inner dialog. We can begin to recognize patterns in our life, and from there we can make conscious choices to continue or change these patterns. This type of mindfulness allows us to steer ourselves in the direction we would like go.
MEDITATION: If the interest is there, it’s possible. Each breath can be it’s own meditation, but if you want to expand on that, you’re going to have to sit. Yoga is helpful because it prepares our body to sit and even then we have to learn to sit in stillness, to sit comfortably and to close our eyes and breathe. We become mindful of our body, mind and spirit. We allow ourselves just to be in stillness. Stuff inevitably comes up, whether in our bodies or minds. We practice letting it go, adjusting our seat if we need to, but always coming back and relaxing into our breath. Meditation is the process of training the mind to be present.
HABIT: Like any practice, in time, through repetition we learn more about what we are doing. It becomes natural to us. Like a gardener who with time and effort better understands how to till the earth and sow the seeds, we are better able to work with our minds. Start with 5 minutes a day, in time you will work your way to 30. Don’t hurry; you’re tending your own garden now. Turn off your phone, get comfortable, and set a timer. If you like, start a journal and keep track of what you experience. When meditation becomes part of our daily life, we become more in tune with our self and our nature as well as the nature of life around us.
Posted by: Karen Gamble, 8 Limbs teacher, writer, dog lover
Join Karen today for her Beginner’s Mind Introduction to Meditation at 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge.