The best gift I’ve ever requested, over 30 years ago now, was the ability to learn my lessons without trauma or drama. And that gift has kept on giving until the past year or so.
So how do I now handle the moments of things gone terribly wrong, crazy prevails, and trouble sometimes comes with a capital T?
In retrospect, I welcome them.
I do not know that it is possible to live a life without any problems or discomfort. Perhaps some great spiritual masters transcend the ordinary vicissitudes of life. I do not count myself among them. And, maybe, those challenges, met with courage, forgiveness, and compassion are the very lessons that strengthen and brighten the soul and spirit until it shines. It is how we gradually learn to handle adversity that makes us masters. For that I am grateful.
In my 20s I bought a rock tumbler. I added different densities of grit at different stages over a month as the rocks rubbed against each other day after day. It was a long and noisy process–much like life sometimes can be–but at the end, I had a handful of beautifully polished rocks. I’ve long ago forgotten the rocks, but not the process.
Apparently, there are some stubborn traits I still need polished out. Or maybe there has just been so much to deal with in the past year or two that I am weary and do not have sufficient energy to learn my lessons quickly, and therefore, they get louder and way more annoying and gritty than they have in a very long time. In any case, though I truly don’t enjoy going through them at the time, those experiences are valuable. Compared to the adversities of many, they are slight.
I have a dear friend who welcomes everything and everyone. I have watched another take advantage of him, treat him badly, and I have pointedly asked him why he allows this. He is perfectly aware that this is happening. And he responds that all of it is a gift, and that each person, whether they treat him well or not, or are easy to be with or not, connects him to a world of other people and opportunities.
I like that.
And, although, I’m still going to request a renewal of learning my lessons without the trauma and drama, I’m going to add that I welcome all into my life that connect me to the greater whole that I am and that we are.
Wishing you beautiful gifts this holiday season and for the New Year.
have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both
between traditions and within them.”
The list and
variations could go on and on, but this only complicates the issue.
We shall return to this in the HOW section.
WHERE? is also easy. Wherever you are. You could be sitting, standing, lying down. All you need is your presence. How to get to “presence” is where the “what” and “how” both come in. What meditation practice will you choose? How does one best meditate? Again, hold on… we’ll get to that.
Find someplace soothing, even if it’s only in your imagination.
WHEN? has a cute answer, which is, of course, NOW. The real answer is whenever you can. But practically speaking, it’s a good idea to build it into your schedule at a regular time—a time of day or even time of week —) if once a week is all you can manage) when you aren’t crazy busy, or when you aren’t most stressed. We each have natural rhythms. Find yours.
WHY? The health benefits of meditation and meditative techniques are evidence based and well documented. They include:
The list could go on and on to include productivity, creativity, prevention of disease, etc. etc. So, assuming you are already convinced that meditation is worthwhile, let’s get on with the HOW.
HOW? Here are some suggestions until you figure out what’s easiest and best for you. Lots of people, as discussed in last month’s blog, have a hard time turning off their thoughts. So what’s a person to do?
Make it up if you have to. That’s what I do. Don’t think there’s a “right way” to do it. Be easy on yourself. Practice self-kindness. Take it slowly—a few minutes a day; and if you can’t manage every day, that’s OK too. Just start. Take tiny baby steps. You can time yourself of not. This is your meditation. I usually do my “meditating” sitting down. I tell myself that the everyday, temporal me has done all the thinking necessary for one day.
Then I wait for the “bigger” me, the one that lives in my sub-conscious or super-conscious or perhaps permeates the cosmos, that connected-to-all-that-is-Self to take over. In other words, I “let go and let God.”
get really, really quiet and show up to whatever state that follows.
I push a mental button to switch off my everyday, taking-care-of-business thoughts
Sometimes I start by consciously breathing deeply, with long inhale, a short holding of the in-breath, long exhale, and then short holding of the out-breath. Sometimes I hum or tone. There is some evidence that toning is even more effective than meditating.
You can try a scanning technique. Close your eyes and look into your body. Find the tense places and imagine that you are soothing, massaging them. Imagine your body as filled with warm sand, or bright light, or beautiful waves of water. You may prefer to breathe naturally. An infant knows how to breathe without effort. Follow your breathing. Breathe in your favorite incense or diffuse essential oil. Listen to meditative music. Doodle if you are restless and must keep busy. The possibilities for relaxing are endless. You need to relax first so you can enter the meditative state.
Choose your favorite incense. Or gaze at a candle.
Use biofeedback equipment if you must.
Read books, watch videos, or listen to podcasts about different kinds of meditation and try out one that attracts you. This is not unlike trying on new shoes. If it’s comfortable continue. If not, try something else.
Use basic “mindfulness”. Take one step back from your thoughts and just watch them as if they are clouds floating by. If you get “caught” into a thought, as soon as you realize this, go back to a distance from it. IF you catch yourself completely drifting away, call yourself back to the present moment.
Walking meditation. With each step, breathe. You might want to think, “Here I am now.” Every now and then stand still for a moment. Open your senses to the colors, sounds, movement of the air, the clouds, aromas. Take another step. “Here I am now.”
Some people need a mantra. You don’t need someone to create one for you. Create your own. Make is simple. For years I have repeated to myself, “Thank you.” – or “Thank you God.” To keep myself awake, I sometimes count my mantra, “Thank you 1, thank you 2, thank you 3…..”
You could sit with palms open. Imagine that one hand is giving up to the cosmos all that you have experienced, much as a fragrant flower gives its aroma to its surroundings, without effort. With the other hand, receive all that the cosmos has to offer, just as the flower receives the air, the wind, the rain and the sun.
Be present – a present – to yourself. Enjoy the silence of being just you. If you find something new that works really well, please share that with my readers.