I have mentioned numerous times recently my daily practices that I have added back into my life to help keep me balanced and moving forward in my growth and recovery. They are; morning walks, yoga and meditation.
I try to do at least one of them everyday and sometimes I manage to combine all three into one activity by doing a walking meditation and stopping along the way for a brief sun salutation.
Of the three practices the one that is the most difficult for me is meditation. Either so many random thoughts and lists of “things” bombard my quieted mind that I am constantly trying to pull myself back to the practice.
In an effort to improve and grow in my meditation practice I recently went looking for resources and guidance. I asked friends if they used any podcasts or CDs for guided meditation, I Googled, I searched iTunes. I downloaded music that takes me to that place in my heart and mind where I feel at home and inspired. And I added a bunch of new podcasts to my subscription list.
One of my favorites for meditation have been the ones from Meditation Oasis. Mary’s voice is very serene and easy to listen to without being too airy. I love that in the meditation that I have listened to so far she says that if our mind wanders or a thought comes in it is okay and to just acknowledge it and let it go. So many times in the past I felt like a meditation failure because my mind kept wandering and thoughts would come in and I knew that was “wrong” and I was supposed to keep my mind quiet and focused on the breath, candle, inner light or whatever was the focus of the meditation. With her gentle okay that this will happen and to let it go I am able to move on in my meditation and stop beating myself up and moving further out of the state I am trying to achieve because I am chastising myself for doing it wrong. There shouldn’t be any shame in meditation right?
I have now discovered the associated website to Meditation Oasis and have found many valuable resources there as well. I really enjoyed reading the post about Walking Meditation as this is my favorite way to meditate. There is also a page on Nature Meditations that is helpful. I found that much of what I have always done is a form of both walking and nature meditation but with the information I’ve read here I have a new appreciation and awareness for my daily practice.
The Meditations in Action section is very interesting and I think I have done this unaware in the past but would like to make a conscious effort to try this form very soon. This is what I do when I go up to my sewing studio to play when I don’t have a specific project in mind. I will put on music and just let the day take me in whatever direction it needs to go. I may end up cleaning and organizing or working on an unfinished project that just needed the right motivation to get going again or be inspired to start something completely new and exciting.
I have also found that meditation has really helped me live in the moment and stop procrastinating. When I’m in my “zone” I will just get so much done because I just do whatever project or thing that presents itself to me. A simple, small example is the other day I was going upstairs to change over some laundry. Because I was open and aware of my surroundings I noticed a pile of stuff that had been put on the stairs to go up “sometime” but had just been walked past for a week or more. I simply picked it up, took it with me and put the few items away in the rooms, closets, drawers that they needed to go into. It took all of 5-10 minutes and very little effort at all. I continued on like this for the rest of the day and instead of feeling pressured to “get things done” I just did them with ease and mindfulness.
The next morning I started to get annoyed because the floors were noticeably dirty. In particular there were spots where something had been spilled and not wiped up in addition to some muddy paw prints by the door. Usually I think that “doing the floors” is an all morning, daunting task and I had to work in a few hours and just didn’t have the time to vacuum thoroughly, get out the floor cleaner, then scrub and wipe the corners and baseboards, etc. In other words I didn’t think I had the time to do it “right”. But I stopped, took a deep breath and took a good long look at the job in front of me. What was really bothering me right then was the sticky spill and the paw prints. So I quickly vacuumed up as much dog hair as I could and filled my mop bucket with warm water and vinegar. I didn’t roll up the area rugs, I just mopped up the things that were really bothering me. Then I noticed the area around the pet water dish was kind of gross so I mopped that too. I didn’t get down on my hands and knees with a scrub brush to get the stone and grout spotless, that was for another day, I just did the job that was in front of me. It took less than 15 minutes and I was able to go to work on time. When I got home that evening I wasn’t faced with a nasty floor and the next day on my day off I could concentrate on other things that I wanted or needed to do that day. I still haven’t had time to do the floors “right” but they are better than they were and I can live with that.
I think many times when we think about things like meditation we think about it in a deep spiritual way and look for it to do big things and deep things and are looking to become yogis or monks or deeply spiritual beings. We don’t look for it to help us be okay with a less than perfectly clean floor or making grocery shopping on a busy Friday afternoon less stressful or to deal with rush hour traffic without flipping people off and calling strangers names. But it does. It helps to ground us in an awareness of the present moment and to make the most of that moment. For me it also helps me focus on how I feel about a particular situation rather than worrying about what others think about me and what I’m doing. I’m learning to let go of the paralyzing pursuit of perfection and need for approval from others. I’m not completely there yet but I’m making progress.