Make Meditation Part of Your Day in 2 Simple Ways
Make Meditation Part of Your Day
Despite the fact that evidence now abounds for the benefits of meditation, many people who are aware of these benefits may find themselves feeling daunted about beginning a meditation practice.
Perhaps they have tried to meditate and found it unbearable to sit still and be silent.
Perhaps they simply cannot relate to the idea of being without sound and movement even if only for a few minutes each day.
Well, there is good news!
There are no hard and fast rules or regulations in the world that say there is only one way to meditate.
The number of ways of being mindful and entering into a state of tranquility abound. Simply take your pick of all the positive options!
By finding spaces for stillness and silence throughout the day, we can reap quite a few benefits of meditation.
We can reduce our stress levels, reduce our anxiety, build our immunity, enhance our focus, improve the quality of our relationships, as well as brighten our lives in many other ways- simply by slowing down and being mindful throughout the day.
Mindfulness is at the heart of meditation.
Mindfulness requires that we cultivate within us an attitude of acceptance and openness to the present moment.
At any given moment, we observe our thoughts and emotions, but we do so without judgement.
Well, actually, it’s easier said than done, hence the reason so many people might shy away from even trying.
Here are two examples of how to enter into a state of mindfulness, without feeling the pressure to sit in one place and be perfectly silent or still.
I have included easy mindfulness exercises at the end of each example, for those who want to give them a try.
You can create your own activities as well.
But above all, have fun and keep it simple.
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1) Embrace Sound Instead of Silence
If the idea of being silent terrifies you, if you feel it’s impossible to shut off whatever mental chatter might be going on in your mind, if you feel you simply have a life that involves noise and that noise cannot be avoided, make peace with the sounds that surround you.
Parents of young children know that it’s impossible to be without some noise.
People with jobs in busy offices know that they cannot ask their colleagues to be silent or stop the phones from ringing.
People with neighbors cannot always rely on their neighbors to be quiet.
We live in a world of noise.
Unless you live outside the city, in a rural area, or live in isolation on an island, noise will always be a part of daily life.
Even on an island, there will be some noise!
I live next to a busy street. There is always something happening. Not just the traffic.
There might be road repairs. There might be construction. There might be sirens. Where I live, there are people constantly coming and going. There is always something happening.
Occasionally, in the stillness of the night, a mild earthquake might rattle the walls. The noises go on and on, some more unsettling and unidentifiable than others.
I’ve made peace with all the noise as best I can.
In brokering some peace with all the unexpected and alarming sounds that might surround me, it is easier for me to let go of the idea that I will ever find perfect silence in my current urban environment.
Instead of seeking silence, I embrace new sounds that help me stay focused.
I listen to calming music, perhaps some piano music or an acoustic album by a musician I like.
I also have a little water fountain that creates the beautiful sound of water trickling in a gentle stream.
These sweet sounds help to mask the more unpleasant sounds that surround me.
If I am working on an art project, my water fountain helps me stay calm and centered.
If I want to rest after work but find myself distracted by many thoughts, I simply tune into my favorite singer and listen to my favorite songs.
The quieter the music, the better. No loud, banging songs. Just a sweet voice and some soothing instrumentals, and I feel content.
Mindfulness Exercise: If you would like to, go ahead and pick a soothing sound to listen to. Perhaps the sound of trickling water or ocean waves or light rainfall.
Bring your awareness to that sound. Keep you focus and attention there.
Imagine moving into that sound, or being enveloped in it.
Observe yourself, your thoughts, your feelings.
If your attention wanders, simply bring it back to the sound.
How do you feel?
Do you experience your thoughts and emotions moving toward stillness as you focus on your chosen sound?
2) Find Movement Instead of Stillness
I am naturally drawn to being still, to staying in one place for a long time, especially when I am working on an art or literary project.
I can sit for hours. I can even feel so calm and content that I forget the passage of time, and before I know it, the day is done.
However, once I am done with my work, I have to move. I feel a strong need for physical activity.
Putting my own reality aside, I also know people who cannot sit still for very long. They need to move. They want to move.
I would not dream of asking them to sit still and meditate that way.
These individuals are happiest when they are engaged in an activity that allows them to move their bodies.
And in truth, we all need some form of movement. It’s a basic necessity for good health. The more sedentary our lifestyles, the more health problems we will face, especially as we age.
We must move, as often as we can, and strive to stay active every day to maintain optimum health and energy levels as we age.
The image or ideal of a person sitting very still with eyes closed is not a model that works for everybody.
For those with high physical energy and a desire to be involved in some kind of movement, meditation or stillness should not be something unattainable.
Instead, movement should be something we can find great stillness within. Movement itself can be so powerfully meditative.
This is why many meditation-based traditions and practices celebrate forms of mindfulness through movement. A walk in the woods or a hike along the shore of a lake or an ocean can be a wonderful meditation, in an of itself.
Yoga, through its honoring of physical postures or poses (asana), brings us toward a meditative state by getting our bodies to move–and by challenging us to move in new and diverse and healing ways.
Martial arts practices like Tai Chi and Qigong are highly meditative practices, aligning movement of the body with breathing and mindfulness. These practices, very much like yoga, enhance the individual’s ability to cultivate of a state of mental calm and awareness, while also moving the body fluidly, with gracefulness and heightened consciousness.
Any physical activity can be meditative, if we approach it with the intention of being aware of what we are doing, being present to the various facets of the activity and to how we feel, without being judgmental.
Swimming, biking, running, wall climbing, mountain climbing, skiing, dancing, skateboarding, and any sport that we might feel enthusiastic or passionate about can be meditative.
Watch a basketball game closely and you might see some of the players move so fluidly and with such an awareness of their environment and an openness to the task at hand that we cannot but assume they are in a state of great mindfulness.
The way they play the game becomes a form of meditation.
We can be mindful in our other daily activities, even our non-fitness activities.
We can sweep the floor mindfully, wash the dishes mindfully, cook a meal mindfully, read a book mindfully, garden mindfully, play with children mindfully, drive our cars mindfully, and interact with others mindfully.
Mindfulness Exercise: Select an activity you do each day. Perhaps folding laundry, or going for a walk, or talking with a friend, or playing with your child. As you engage in that activity, bring your awareness to your body as you move within that activity. What are your hands doing? What are your feet doing? Are your arms folded or not? Are you frowning or smiling?
How is your posture as you sit or stand? View each movement you make as deliberate and be mindful of the way you position your body.
Observe how the task or activity goes. Observe how you feel and how others you might be interacting with are also moving or responding to you.
Do you experience of contentment, peace, joy, deep connection to others, or gratitude, as you engage in the activity with a sense of openness and awareness?
In Summary, Love Your Life and Live It Mindfully
There need not be an arbitrary separation between the activities we engage in and our awareness.
We can find stillness, peace, contentment, deep connection to ourselves and others in so many of the things we do in our daily lives.
This realization encourages us to know that meditation is not something we have to sit in one place or position for.
Meditation is not something we need to run away from in an attempt to escape all the surrounding noise.
Within the sounds of our lives, we can find solace in new sounds, because ultimately we can choose what we listen to and what we pay attention to.
Within the physical activities we feel passionate about, or even the activities must perform for our daily lives, we can find mindfulness as we move.
We can bring the light of our consciousness to wherever we find ourselves and to whatever we are doing.
In doing so, we might see the brightness and the beauty of the light in each one of us and the radiance of that light filtering into the world each day.
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