The soul is like a wild animal- tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may very well emerge and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek. -Parker J. Palmer, Let your Life Speak
Seven years ago when I first met my fiance’, he casually mentioned that he meditated. I thought, “Oh lord have mercy, what have I gotten myself into with this one.” I laughed as I pictured him sitting criss-cross applesauce with his hands resting on his knees, repeating, “Ommmm”, while incense burned in the background. I assume this is the image most people have as well.
For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from debilitating anxiety. When I was 8 years old, after my mom died, I developed trichotillomania which caused me, for years, to pull out my eyelashes. Although I no longer suffer from the impulse control, my anxiety has been a relentless beast that lurks in the shadows waiting to emerge at the first sign of weakness. Many people take medication for anxiety. I have no opinion when it comes to the choices a person makes with his or her own body. Believe me, I have considered it myself. However, I wanted to find a way to be in control, not have my mind control me. That’s when I decided to open my mind to meditation.
I’m not going to sit here and say meditation has zapped away my anxiety. I still suffer. But MOST, not ALL of the time, I am able to control it in certain situations. Now, at least when someone says to go to my “happy place”, I understand what they mean and I’m able to do just that.
We all have our of visions of what meditation is. I used to think it was this…
When in all reality, it’s more like this…..
Put your phone down. Go outside. Be alone…….with your thoughts.
Here are some step by step guidelines for getting you started
- Find a quiet place where you will NOT be interrupted. Away from t.v., tablets or screaming children. (I prefer early morning before anyone else wakes up.) This is also a great way to set your intention for the day. More on this in a later post.
- Find a comfortable spot in a chair, on a bed, a yoga mat…. again, whatever works best for you. (I prefer to lay down, in a bed or on the floor because I have back issues and I cannot fully relax sitting up. Also, light a candle or turn out the lights if that helps create a relaxing environment for you.
- Once you’re ready to begin, Take a long deep breath in, hold it for a second and breath it all out. Do this about 3 times. Imagine you’re breathing in an abundance of love and positivity and exhaling out the negative thoughts and feelings that you carry with you each day.
- Once you’ve done this, I want you to slowly scan your body for stress, headaches, muscle pain, even anxiety. Imagine a light of positive energy is scanning your body and healing any areas of concern. Once your body is fully scanned, I want you to breathe normally. Your body should be heavy because you have total trust that the earth is supporting you. You are safe. Focus on your breath. If any thoughts come to your mind, that’s okay, just set them aside and go back to your breath.
- Your soul will speak to you. Sometimes with images. Other times with emotions. Just be present and allow yourself to listen.
- When you are ready to end your practice, simply begin to come back by wiggling your fingers and toes. Your body will be heavy, just give it time to adjust. When you’re ready, open your eyes.
Namaste, “the divine in me honors the devine in you.”
Try to do this daily. Start with 5 minutes and increase as you feel comfortable. Five minutes may feel like an eternity when you first start. Try to keep in mind, it’s a practice. You will have days that you are unable to shut off your thoughts and then there will be days when the curtain has been lifted and you’ve been given a gift of indescribable events.
Let’s be clear about something. The mind is meant to think. That’s its job. The purpose of meditation is to learn to be mindful, present and to go beyond our mind and experience our true nature. Understand thoughts WILL come. It’s your job to be aware of these thoughts and patiently set them aside until it’s their turn. You may have negative thoughts or emotions that come up. Meditation teaches us balance as well as teaches us a great deal about ourselves.
There is a difference between thoughts (why am I sitting here when I should be doing laundry) set those aside, and your soul speaking to you through visions, stay with this.
Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. -Parker J. Palmer, Let your Life Speak.
A lot of people, including myself, prefer guided meditation. You can simply log onto YouTube and search ‘guided meditation’ and you’ll have millions of choices. The Honest Guys are pretty good and I use that often. There are also several apps you can download. I usually make my choice based on the amount of time I want to practice or if I’m in need of something specific, like releasing anxiety, for example
I use guided meditation routinely, however, if I’m in public and that relentless beast rears it’s ugly head, I like knowing that I am capable of getting myself back under control by focusing on my breathing. Guided meditation taught me this.
So, if you were at Dave & Buster’s in St. Louis and saw a crazy woman taking deep breaths in the corner, yeah, that was probably me. (I struggle with large crowds.)
To wrap this up:
-Meditation is a practice. Be patient.
-YOU are in control of your mind, not the other way around.
-Start with 5 minutes. Use a timer.
-Your body will speak to you. If you fall asleep, it’s okay. That is what you need.
Your mind WILL wander. Be patient. Set your thoughts aside and let them know you will return to them later.
-Start with a guided meditation
-Most importantly……be open. Meditation has the power to change your life if you let it.
Have you tried meditation? Tell me how it’s helped you?
As always, thanks for being with me! I truly appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to read my posts. We all have a story and our story can help others…we just have to be brave enough to speak it.
Be authentic. Be YOU.