Meditation is a wonderful way to bring mindfulness or what others refer to as present moment living into your life. It is a simple, powerful practice that gives you the space to ground yourself to the moment, look inward, and still the body, mind, and spirit. The problem with mindfulness meditation is finding a way to fit it into your busy life, and tailoring it to work for you.
When I first started meditating, it was a struggle. My mind was like a garden hose, writhing uncontrollably. My legs would go numb as I sat cross-legged in an uncomfortable lotus, and my mind unforgivably jumped from thought to thought to thought. I told myself it was the hum of the refrigerator, the itch on my nose, the noise in the distance that made it impossible. Others seemed so content in my meditation circle, why couldn’t I get it together? I was a sweaty, rocking mess trying to manhandle my mind to do what I wanted. Why couldn’t I sit still? How could something so simple be so hard? It was like I couldn’t be alone with my thoughts and myself. But I kept going back to it, and out of what was almost defeat, I finally started to let go.
It’s Not All Burning Incense and Full Lotus
When I learned to let go of the way I thought I should meditate I actually began meditating. Sure, when I have the time to sit down and meditate with my favorite incense, which by the way does not include a full lotus of any kind (I lean up against something and put my legs out in front of me) it is a treat. But it absolutely is not something I have time for every day right now. So instead, I meditate for a few moments in the shower, on my drive to work, or when I step outside of the office for a quick break. Its not how you meditate, but rather how often you meditate and the peace you feel.
Mindfulness Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime
Try this meditation in the shower to start the day with intention and clarity:
Close your eyes and breathe. Take a few exaggerated inhales and exhales. Let the steam fill your lungs. Notice how it feels. Let the water hit the back of your neck and notice the sensations. Become aware of the sounds and smells of your surroundings. This is called grounding yourself to the moment.
Be the watcher. Once you feel relaxed, become the “watcher” of your thoughts. Notice how your thoughts come and go, but try not to allow any judgments to creep in. Just be the thoughtful observer. This might be as far as you go for awhile as you get started with mindfulness meditation. Learning to separate yourself from your thoughts and not get lost in them is the start to a beautiful practice.
Thought bubbles. Bubbles seemed quite fitting for a shower meditation so let’s use this imagery! As you notice your mind drifting to the meeting you have in a few hours or the groceries you need to get, can you bubble those thoughts up and watch them gently float away? They float in and out, without your mind following them. There is no need to feel frustrated about how many times you become distracted or how you get lost in certain thoughts. We all start here, so accept this part of the journey.
No mind. Once you are able to lovingly send your thought bubbles away, you will experience moments of what Buddhists call “no mind.” This is when your mind is blissfully still and free of thought. Take notice of these glimpses of peace and how good they feel because overtime you will elongate these periods of no mind that will allow you to bring a deep sense of mindfulness into everything you do.
Even if your meditation lasts only a few minutes, see how it changes the course of your day. In these moments of stillness, you are free. Remember, choosing to not lose yourself in thought does not mean that you will be less prepared for life. In fact, mindfulness and being fully rooted in the present moment allows you to be more prepared and more in control than ever. My husband always uses the analogy of anxiety and an overthinking mind like rocking in a rocking chair. Incessant thinking does not get you anywhere, similar to a rocking chair…so what’s the point? Let go of your thoughts even if only for a few moments. Trust me, they will be there if you need them. 🙂