20 Apr Find Stillness
My plan for the morning: wake up at 5 a.m. before anyone else is awake to complete my morning routine and if I’m lucky, get some work done.
What actually happens: Oversleep. Cat crawls all over me when I finally sit down at my laptop to work. Dog wakes up and starts whining from my daughter’s bedroom. I put down my computer and get up to let him outside.
No work completed.
But THEN! I look up to the sky, see such beauty in the trees above and the half-moon still visible in the early morning sky. Big breath in. Big breath out. Peace. Calm. Stillness. Beauty, splendor and oneness with the universe can be had in an instant by just stepping outside into my own backyard.
Research overwhelmingly tells us how good meditating is for us, providing physical benefits as well as reducing stress and anxiety. A comprehensive meta-analysis of 39 studies concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues. It also helps increase our focus, mental clarity and memory, which are particularly important in cases of age-related memory loss and dementia.
The list of benefits goes on and on. We know we should take a few minutes each day to find the stillness within our day, but it’s hard. Especially at first, meditation doesn’t feel natural. “Am I doing this right?” is the most common question I get from those who are new to it.
But there is no right or wrong way to meditate. What works for one doesn’t work for everyone, but there are many types of meditation and you can experiment to see what fits.
- Some find it helpful to choose a word that resonates that day and repeat this in a focused manner so the mind is less likely to wander. (It can be any word. Some of my favorites are joy, peace, love, health, clarity, and focus.) When I practice this way, I like to envision the word written out in my mind.
- Others prefer guided meditation where someone speaks to you, making imagery suggestions or reminding you to come back to the present space. There are also dozens of free or inexpensive mobile apps, such as 10% Happier, HeadSpace, Calm, Insight timer, that provide guided meditations.
- In India recently I practiced fire meditation where you concentrate on a flame and allow the heat and colors of the flame to wash over you. You could even do this in your home with a candle!
Sometimes we get lucky like I did this morning and IT finds US. At other times we are so inundated with life that we must take the concerted effort to find it for ourselves. Either way, a steady practice every day no matter where you are in the world is what matters.