The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that meditation is the one tool that makes the biggest difference in my daily life. To live in a constant healthy flow, I meditate daily and not because I have to, like with exercise. To clarify, I exercise every day, mostly without pouting, but every once in a while I just have to give myself a strict talking to.
With meditation, it’s something I look forward to. The earlier in the day the better. The reason for this is that the whole day flows in such an exciting way. Synchronicities fire right and left. I feel like I’m in a boat flowing down stream through a gorgeous canyon and people I love are hopping in my boat (as the ones that annoy me hop out.) If a crisis arises as inevitably they do, I can handle it and stay calm like the t-shirts tell me to do. Everything just works.
On the flip side, if I get really frazzled or am out of town and on a different routine and miss my meditation, I notice a difference. My boat feels like it’s caught in a whirlpool. I draw people to me that I didn’t mean to and it’s not always pretty. I’m not appreciating my interactions with others as much as I’d like to. It just feels sloggy.
To me, it’s a very personal practice and very forgiving. There’s not a right and wrong way. To setting, I don’t really have time to go to a mountaintop in Tibet and sit for a day (though that’s on my Bucket List). Sometimes, I’m lucky if nobody pounds on the door while I’m on the pot. We’re all busy, with deadlines, and kid schedules and lots of needs that demand to be filled before we sit on a pillow in the lotus position. I get it.
So here’s what I do. I’ve devised many different ways (that are not perhaps the traditional ways) to do my meditation. I embrace the idea that all settings are fair game. My favorite happens to be sitting in the hot tub under the rain, but granted this requires special tools. I also love the shower. Or even getting to school a few minutes early to get the kids and finding a spot where nobody will bug me…or staying in bed a few minutes longer (which may require waking up earlier)…or going to bed a few minutes earlier. The sky’s the limit.
Just like setting is anywhere, so is time. I’m not rigid with myself. Some days allow more, some less. Just practicing deep breathing, taking 10 deep breaths in and out will shift a person’s body chemistry. Guided meditations are great for monkey-minds. When I’m particularly distracted, I’ll listen to one while walking the dog, or on the Stairmaster, or on the treadmill at the gym. It does not escape me that this Zen-multitasking concept is a paradox, but somehow the combination of both works for me and I embrace it.
Stacks and stacks of research on meditation tell us the benefits and you’ve seen it all. In this tech-ridden, multitasking, world where the days–I can’t prove it yet, but I know it’s true–get shorter and shorter, our brains are waving a red flag for some down time.
I’ve recently become interested in studying meditation both in a live class and an online course. My sense is that the collective conscious is growing stronger and my suspicion is that results from more people discovering this practice and putting it to use. When we take a practice like meditation and look at it cognitively, we can get judgy. Think there’s a right and a wrong way or balk at its hippie connotations.
I refuse to go there. Any time, any place, naked, dressed, upside right, upside down. You decide. Having said that, I’ve recently become interested in the principles of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Picture your mind like an ocean with waves active on the surface. In TM, you drop down to the stillness below while silently repeating a mantra 20 mins. each day. There is a recipe, then, but the recipe claims to be natural and effortless. I’m going to do an experiment and try this for a month or so. I’ll let you know.
Whatever method, the research shows that meditation drops cortisol (the stress making hormone), raises Serotonin and Prolactin (the happy neurostransmitters), and gets the brain humming like a fine-tuned machine, all for free. Who doesn’t want that?
Just try and take a few minutes to let your breathing become deep and your mind become still. Then watch your life blossom with possibility.