Meditation is not necessarilywhat you might think.
Yes, it may include Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, martial arts, or Zhan Zhang (the Chinese art of standing like a post).
It also may include sitting meditation with breath, mantra, chanting, visualizations, guiding and movement exercises like in Kundalini (a yoga all to itself).
But, and here is the big BUT, it also is how you live your life. How the thoughts move around inside your head and are expressed in your emotions and actions.
It is where you find peace, quiet and a sense of balance.
That may be while walking, eating, playing with your children, your dog or cat, riding a horse, sitting in a park, being by a body of water, reading a book or perhaps just sitting alone in silence.
It’s how you deal with external stimuli, irritants, confrontation and disruptions.
Meditation is the BIG and the small picture.
It is at the height of an argument with your parent, sibling, partner, spouse, colleague or boss and how you deal with it. It is when you are just passing time or zoning out.
That has been MY meditation for the last week on dealing with an interminably difficult family member. Someone I can’t just walk away from. Someone who won’t change and has always suffered from a personality disorder.
My conclusion? Teacher teach thyself.
Meditation is available in innumerable forms all the time, you just need to access it.
Taking three deep breaths (yes, you have heard about this a zillion
times AND it works), staring out a window at the trees and the birds in a park, sipping a cup of tea while savoring the fragrance, the warmth and the subtle notes in taste.
You say you don’t have time?
Bull! Everyone has time for these quick and easy moments. And that is exactly what they are — moments. Many of them simply things we do in daily life, we just need to be conscious of them.
Daily life CAN be a meditation if you choose to make it so.
I’m not a broken record recommending that you sit quietly in a room, for 15 to 60 minutes, with your eyes closed, while focusing on your breathing, no thoughts and listening to some Zen-like music.
Although that REALLY works when and if you carve out the time to do it.
I’m talking about (here comes a slightly overused phrase these days) life hacks. Make meditation an integral part of your day. A mind set almost as easy and effortless as breathing.
It IS a mindset just like the mind sets of “I don’t have enough time. I’m too frazzled. I just can’t focus. I’m overextended, overwhelmed, overburdened.”
Here are three simple exercises you can do, in addition to what I mentioned above.
When you take a break from your work to have your breakfast, lunch, or dinner commit to being quiet. Say nothing or as little as possible for that half an hour or hour. Just observe, listen, and hear. It can be a challenge, especially if you have a very active mind.
If you listen and observe that helps quell the internal monologue. It also can be a huge relief to spend time not speaking. I love to sit quietly and watch water reflect on a surface. The shapes are fascinating.
If you are already a quiet person who doesn’t speak very much use this time to heighten your senses.
Can you be aware of sight and smell at the same time? What about sight, smell and touch? Try sight, smell, touch and taste. Finally focus on sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.
This is a powerful exercise and not as easy as it sounds. Try one sense at a time and then when you have that mastered add another sense and so on.
I referred to Zhan Zhang earlier. What is that and how do you do it?
In Chinese philosophy, Qigong and Tai Chi, it’s typically referred to as standing like a post. It is exactly what it says it is.
You can do it while staring out of a window, standing in an elevator, standing in the park, in your yard, in your bedroom, living room, and so many other places.
I have done it while standing waiting in line, AND when I really needed to center myself, in an airplane bathroom (but not for very long, because, well, you know - airplane bathroom!).
Here is how you do the first position called Wuji (state of emptiness):
Standing with your feet hips width distance apart, knees slightly bent, hips tucked under slightly (you don’t want to push your hips back or have a sway back), your arms are hanging at your sides and slightly away from your sides.
I imagine there is air flowing between my body and underarms and arms. Look straight ahead and gently focus on a place on the wall, or whatever is in front of you. Let your eyes have a relaxed focus. You can also close your eyes for a deeper experience but do that ONLY after you know you have your balance. Breath naturally, gently, easily, effortlessly in and out of your nose.
AND THAT’S IT.
Do it for as long as you can.
You may feel some aches here and there, you may get restless, or your brain may protest, but stick with it.
Breathe into it. Adjust your limbs slightly to increase your comfort.
You can also sway slightly side to side or make tiny circles with your body to relieve any body tension.
Start with 5 minutes and work up from there.
You will be very surprised that this seemingly simple exercise can be very powerful physically, mentally and emotionally.
Try these many ways to meditate as part of your daily life.
Let me know how it goes.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next time.