Do what you’re doing while you’re doing it. This is what we tell our meditation students. Regardless of what it is you find yourself doing, like Nike says, Just do it. In other words, be present.
Meditation is one letter away from mediation perhaps not coincidentally. In mediation we bring two sides together and hold them in a place of objectivity where if successful, the two sides can find their common ground and resolve whatever dispute(s) they may have.
Very often people come to meditation because life has become too full; or at least feels like it is bursting them wide open. The rub is that meditation shows us that we first must deal with the accumulated ‘stuff’ before we can get rid of it. You dredge up and experience fully what you have avoided and pressed deep down inside you. We may come to meditation because we feel conflicted or otherwise divided. The life we are living may feel as though it is running counter to our core beliefs.
This is the same thing that we encounter when physically transforming our lives; we have taken on too much ‘stuff’. We get bogged down. We feel that the things we have are not in line with the life we want. They serve no purpose for us. Liberation comes rather instantly when we eliminate some of what we have brought into our lives; yet first we have to bring it all out into the open and physically go through it. As my co-minimalist pal reminds me ask yourself ; does this object serve a purpose, if even to bring me joy?
I currently do much of my work at a desk in front of a computer, right now, for example. Because I work at a faster pace than the people I work with and even the software my computer uses; I have learned to play with the social media that is available. Alternatively, I take mini-breaks to stretch, do eye exercises or walk in the sunlight.
I think although popular social media allows us to connect with others it does it on certain queen-of-the-mountain terms. I can toot my horn, I can say my piece and that is that. If I like, it can be one-sided. If I choose, I can listen to your views and opinions but I am the monarch in this domain baby. All powerful and full of me!
I edit my contacts lists frequently and I don’t always follow back. I can here you deleting, unfriending, unfollowing me now. Gasp. It is a type of spring cleaning of my virtual closets. I highly recommend this practice and that of scheduling a media fast.
One main cause of stress in our culture is that with all the marvelous ways we are interconnected and instantly aware of so many things in so many places, we also attached a sense of immediacy to things that are truly not urgent or even vital to our lives. Our oldest brain functions kick in and we are in fight or flight mode so much of the time it feels like fight and fight mode. Physically, this increases blood pressure, cortisol and myriad other physical effects that keep us agitated until they wear us out and shred us emotionally.
PANIC, PANIC ALL AROUND
When my babes were in elementary school, we walked to and from school together each day. While they were in school I ran my yoga & mediation school. Once at my job, I checked email and returned phone inquiries and then for class, our phones were off. In the spaces between classes, I followed same routine of email, phone, et cetera.
One particular day between classes, I listened to frantic messages from the elementary school. This was in 1997 and I was a cell phone hold out. I responded as soon as I retrieved the messages, and mind you, the kids had been in school approximately 2.5 hours so far that day and I worked a mere 4 blocks away from the school. I ascertained that there was no actual crisis except their reaction to having to wait.
My parenting methods were questioned because I had the audacity to not be available each and every moment. I indicated, plagiarizing from the emergency alert system; If this had been an actual emergency… the police could have come to inform me. I shifted the attention back to the staff (who btw I adored ) and indicated that I entrusted my most precious babes to them 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. That in an actual emergency, they should call 911 because I was unskilled at reattaching limbs, heads whatever, in the event of an actual emergency. We agreed to disagree.
I knew that due to the super connected times we live in, theirs was a rather common reaction. These reactions, however, maintain the stress levels we experience.
SCHEDULE A MEDIA FAST
Want to sleep more peacefully? Don’t finish your day with the news. We all know that it is designed to keep us agitated, excited. This is why we stay tuned and why we buy products. Do yourself a favor and end your day with something sweeter, nice music, love-making, practice deep slow breathing or meditation. Better yet, a whole day with no phones, computers. (Yes, you can).
People will say “I’ve tried to meditate but I can’t”. I understand that they tried a technique and got frustrated. You have a brain, you have senses, emotions, thoughts and an ego. If you are alive and not in a coma, these will come into play. You might see all the input as distractions or impediments to meditation. As a marvelous sage Ram Dass puts it, it’s all Grist for the mill.
I tell people to think of the way a child tugs at your skirt hem or shirt to get your attention. It is not the child’s ‘fault’ it is the child’s nature to insert themselves into your moments, perhaps to reassure themselves. When you are in good adult mode, you softly turn your attention to the child, even if to explain “not now”. When you are NOT in good adult mode (because you’re trippin’) you may react in anger to their longing.
So in meditation, we attempt, while not always succeeding, to be the good parent. The tugging child is the thought, the siren you hear outside, the pain in your back or whatever is pulling you from the focus of your mediation.
CREATE A SPACE BETWEEN YOUR THOUGHTS AND LEARN TO EXPAND THAT SPACE.
In meditation we have a base or focal point that we return to each time. That is how we meditate. If we are distracted 700,000 times, we return to base 700,001 times. We may notice what comes in and out and we learn to minimize our reactions and simply return to base.
Base might be our breath Breathing In-Peace Fill Me and Breathing Out-Pure Peace
If we are more visual, base can be an image Wide Open Sky and everything else just Clouds Moving Across we return to Wide Open Sky
When we are pulled in many directions, we miss our moments. If we are sitting to share a meal with others but distracted by our phone or by thoughts of work and finances, we lose touch. Base is Enjoying the food before us, the smiles of the person next to us and the dog asleep at our feet.
Even in the busiest times of your day, find ways to touch base, frequently. You will feel more at ease and create better health. Perhaps before opening each email Breathing In-Peace Fill Me and Breathing Out-Pure Peace or shuffling kids around in your car all day, before opening the doors Breathing In-Peace Fill Me and Breathing Out-Pure Peace
WHAT YOU NURTURE IS WHAT YOU WILL GROW
Isla Mujeres 2014
Originally posted 8/27/14