Since the age of 17 I have studied a large number of the spiritual philosophies from around the world. Ultimately, the unifying piece of all for me has been meditation, or commonly these days, it seems to be termed ‘mindfulness’. I have blogged many times about the healthful effects of mindfulness – a state of active, open attention to the present moment. The myriad chronic conditions that benefit from decreasing stress and allowing the moment to just “be” are notable – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, depression – and the list continues.
So what is it in our lives that keeps us from taking that small amount of time for ourselves to relax into our breath and go within? Many times the simple practices of mindfulness get lost, and often in the best of times, leaving us feeling empty when we thought we might be overflowing with happiness. The regular practice of going within offers far-reaching joyful benefits – and there’s a reason it’s called a practice.
I’ve noticed that through the years, my own personal “rules” for how things must be to contact that peace within have shifted spaces and formats.
These days there are free resources all over the internet to help us let go of anxiety and find peace within our seemingly chaotic days.
Recently I suffered an intense loss in my life and like many others in times of grief, my meditation practice has grown even more dear to me. What has shifted strongly through my own letting-go process is not only do I have a certain place where go to practice, I have recently placed objects there that have deep significance to me.
I am a vibrational person, as I believe we all are, and I use my toning bowl to create sounds I love. I may play some music. I may read for a while, perhaps light a candle, sometimes chant. There may be alligator tears, or giggles that surprise me. I’ve seen my willingness increase dramatically to confront the inevitable painful mental blocks and searing emotions that arise around those times of loss in our lives. I’m allowing the love and light that is present in all to heal me. And no matter when I arrive, I always walk away closer to the heart of beloved peace.
In the past, even 5 minutes would do. However now as I recognize my own need for healing, I’ve made a serious commitment to my daily practice. Without fail I spend a minimum of 20 minutes which may turn to an hour. Some days I have to get up at 5 a.m. to keep this commitment. And believe me, it’s worth it.
For you, it may be a place in the woods, a tiny spot in a garden, or even a chair in a library where you find yourself willing to breathe and be still. Others are able to meditate through physical movement like tai-chi. I’ve watched artists in meditation as they create their own form of beauty. It’s all good.
For now, I’d like to offer you 7 points that may be helpful if you’re considering a regular mindfulness practice.
- Whether you’re sitting on the floor, a chair, or wherever – be comfortable.
- I believe it’s most effective for you to make a sacred place where you return each day, at least in the beginning. There is something soothing about repetition.
- Be sure your legs are at ease. If you’re sitting in a chair, have your feet flat and spaced a few inches apart.
- From your head to your seat, it’s best to have your spine upright, not slouching.
- Allow your hands to be open with your palms resting on your thighs.
- My suggestion is to keep your eyes open and relaxed, gazing downward and directed 4-6 feet in front of you. This is not nap-time.
- Leave your mouth slightly open so your jaw is relaxed. That way air can move easily through your mouth and nose.
Remember, breath is your spirit. If you find your mind wandering and you’re thinking about situations, emotions or sensations, you can let them go by saying (even out loud) “I’m thinking” – and then focus your attention on an out-breath. Repeat as necessary. There is no wrong way. You are loved.
Ultimately it comes down to the question of how willing are we to commit our time, to loosen our grip on daily life, and be honest with ourselves.
My request for you today is that you take some breaths and moments just for you – and yes, do that each day. It will be my pleasure to meet you across time and space in the present moment of peace.
Happy mindful meditation to you.