If you want to meditate more often, don’t wait until you’re in a quiet spot sitting with your legs crossed for 20 minutes. Start today, in two-minute intervals, at least twice a day. Get back into your senses, via an auditory, visual or somatic reminder. Meditation is about re-awakening, finding any moment wherever you are, uniting with your truest Self and perhaps something greater. Waking up, being present right here, right now. Pausing the chatter in your mind, the busy-ness of your life.
Create moments of stillness by trying these practices. Your days and life will begin to change by being present in a few more moments each day, soon translating into more moments, then into greater creativity, sensuality, groundedness and happiness. In each of these practices, focus upon your breath, breathing in then out, simply observing, without judgment. Smile a little bit, elongate the spine, and allow two minutes. Do what works for you.
1) Shake it! — When walking to your car, into your home or a building, shake the set of keys you carry, to gently bring you back to the now. Or carry a little bell and ring it. Then breathe mindfully for a couple of minutes. Notice what is around you, paying attention, without judgment. Breathe in and out, with awareness. Shake your keys or bell again, reminding yourself to stay present.
2) The Water Trick — Look at a glass of water, a clear vase or a pitcher of water. Soften your gaze, focusing on the water while still being aware of the periphery. Notice your breath, mindfully coming into your body through it. Why water? We associate pleasant feelings with oceans, streams, lakes and running water, so your brain will quickly access peaceful emotions as you breathe and gaze at H2O.
3) Light the Flame — Light a candle. Look at it for fifteen seconds, softening your gaze. Close your eyes. See the candle in your mind’s eye, alit. Keep the flame going for another minute. In future meditations, you may see a candle in your mind’s eye and it will either already be burning, or you can spark it without the assistance of an actual one.
4) Stop, Look and Listen — Pause; select one focal point, then observe with your eyes and ears while breathing from the Self. Imagine your deepest Self, the Seer within you, who watches your thoughts, notices your emotions, feels your physical body. That Seer is who you really are. Breathe in and out, from that Center place, without any “story” about what could or should be, or what “ought” to be or have been.
This is similar to Shamita Vipassana (insight meditation).
5) Rocky Mountain High — John Denver wrote that song about Colorado. Tune in, close. Watch a sunrise “raining fire in the sky,” observe “the silver clouds,” see “the shadow from the starlight,” “touch the sun.” Listen to nearby crickets, and the train at a distance. Watch poppies move in the breeze. Meditate upon what is in front of you, breathing in and out as you see the colors, and hear the sounds.
6) Sing —Sing a slow, repetitive song or sacred word with focus. Chant OM, or sing Amen, repeatedly, any way you like, mindfully. Try a yogic chant like: Om Shanti Shanti Shanti (invocation of peace). Even Kumbaya. The point is to lovingly, mindfully breathe in and out while singing a tune that brings you into self-love and inner calm. The rhythm is like the breath. Be with the rhythm.
7) Open The Door — Any time you walk through a door, pause, reminding yourself that this is a second when you can re-awaken. Here is a doorway into this moment! Then, walk through and into this moment, purposefully. Then, into the next one. Take three mindful breaths, and continue on, more aware throughout your day.
8) Pranayama & Savasana — Develop a two minute pranayama practice before doing asana, and add two minutes of Savasana afterwards. Iyengar believed that asana makes our bodies fit for pranayama, which makes our minds ready for meditation. The Eight Limbs of Yoga teach that we must practice and experience Dhyana, true meditation, to reach Samadhi (union of the Self with the universal soul).
What will motivate you to use these practices? A commitment to self-love and self-discipline helps. Scheduling two minutes twice a day into your phone, with a gentle alarm may help. If you don’t commit, your practice will be inconsistent. The more you meditate, the more often you will want to.
What do we remember in life? Moments. Connections. Meditating is partly about learning to string moments together so that we can be awake in life, and to develop maître, or lovingkindness, toward ourselves and others. First, re-connect to and commit to loving your Self via the breath. Then you can begin to help and love others, changing the world around you. It starts here, now. Can you begin, this moment?
Meditating is partly about learning to string moments together so that we can be awake in life, and to develop maître, or lovingkindness, toward ourselves and others.
The breath is the path into meditation, and meditation is the window through which we mindfully become aware. What you want is on the other side of meditating. You get there by meditating now.
Article Acknowledgements: Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hahn, Mary NurrieSterns. Michael Singer. References: The Eight Limbs of Yoga; The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
Photo Credit: Holly Mandarich