“Meditation applies the brakes to the mind.”
Image from Unsplash by Jan Kopřiva
Over the past several years I have become increasingly fascinated by my meditation practice and other mindfulness activities.
In my experience, meditation has never stomped on the brakes to bring my mind to a complete stop.
It does, however, help me tap the brakes to slow things down, so that I may take in my inner and outer worlds at a calmer and more peaceful pace.
Where might meditation and other alternative mindfulness practices help you slow down your mind to more fully experience your days at a more optimal pace?
“To descend into ourselves, we must first lift ourselves up.”
—Joseph Joubert, 18th Century French moralist and essayist
Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant
Toward the end of October, I was knocked out of my usual activities by a bad cold and an extra heavy dose of seasonal pollen to activate my allergies. I even took a Covid test before I went to my doctor, who told me it was most likely viral and to keep up my palliative care efforts of chicken soup, tea, and rest.
About the only activities that remained consistent were my meditation practice and some reading. Looking through the lens of my illness with modest energy at best, I found my descent into my thoughts and feelings revealing. A big takeaway that I thought I always knew is that the ultimate wealth is health.
How do you perceive the ups and downs of your life?
How do you lift yourself up so that you can more fully descend into yourself to live a richer more fulfilling life?
We can practice yoga by simply sitting in stillness. This is your inner posture.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Tadeusz Lakota
In my early forties, I attended yoga classes at my local fitness center every Friday and Sunday morning.
I had heard the praises of this practice and yet I always felt I was missing the full value it claimed to offer. I found a good number of poses very challenging and I was clearly not a Gumby when asked to bend and fold by the instructor.
I even had difficulty on most occasions focusing on my breath without my mind racing off in a multitude of directions which often included an unhealthy dose of inner critic.
In more recent years, through my meditation efforts and other forms of eastern movement, I have discovered my inner yoga posture simply by sitting in stillness.
How could bringing more stillness into your life offer you many of yoga’s benefits without getting bent out of shape?
Notice the presence of absence.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Tim Chow
In the practice of meditation, we train ourselves to notice our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
The intention is that these efforts will carry forward, so we can pursue our daily activities with greater awareness and ease.
Being more present to our inner and outer worlds offers us a deeper and fuller experience of living.
For most of us, our constant inner dialogues and emotional ups and downs keep us occupied, both on and off the cushion.
What if we could easily and regularly have these thoughts and sensations dissolve and dissipate as if they were water evaporating from the sidewalk on a warm sunny day?
What levels of freedom, peace, and tranquility might be left without all the chatter?
What else could be present in the absence?
Create a space in your home where you remove as many distractions as possible. Do your best to eliminate all sensory inputs and sit for at least ten minutes with only your breath and heartbeat for company.
“We have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize we only have one.”
—Attributed to Confucius
Image from Medium.com
Groundhog Day with Bill Murray is one of my favorite movies. Beyond its humor is the central message of waking up to our lives anew each day.
Take a close look at your life. Examine each day of the past week, month, or even the past year or so. Can you see each moment with clarity, or do things look more like a train speeding by?
I’ve practiced a daily meditation over the past five years. I’ve found this simple — yet often not easy — daily discipline has slowed me down considerably. I have become more mindful and aware of how I navigate my days.
How and in what ways can you apply the wisdom of today’s quote to realize and not miss any possibilities in your precious life?
“God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.”
—James M. Barrie, 19th Century Scottish author of Peter Pan
Image from Unsplash by Debby Hudson
It is February, and Michigan is in the grip of winter. The blooming flowers of spring and summer are months away. For many, the weather can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining, making it feel that a good bit of our “get up and go” has gotten up and gone.
Our minds can, in such situations, operate as time machines, in which we experience some of those sunny days in which our lives were far rosier.
Consider a three-to-five minute daily meditative journey today, and for the rest of the weeks of winter. Reminisce and bask in some of the sunnier days of your past. How can and will you take this energy boosting experience into your day and spread its beauty to those in your personal and professional communities?
“It is hard to fight an enemy who has an outpost in your head.”
—Sally Kempton, master of meditation and yoga philosophy
Image from Unsplash by Ioana Casapu
This morning started off with a loving kindness meditation. I was instructed to direct positive, affirming words toward myself, those close to me, and others in my extended communities.
From time to time, we all can be hard on ourselves when that old, familiar inner critic attacks. For some reason, it seems easier to defend and fight the external enemies we can see in our personal and professional worlds.
How can and will you exercise your own loving kindness muscle and direct its positive energy inward to live a happier and more fulfilling life?
“By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.”
—Alan Watts, 20th Century British-American philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant
Have you ever considered that going out of our minds was a good thing?
Not in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way, but in a quieting the inner voice/monkey mind way.
During a recent meditation session, the instructor led me through an exercise that focused on each of the five senses. With this shift of focus, I noticed a considerable reduction and even a few momentary stoppages of mental chatter and a greater sense of calm and presence.
Consider spending 60 seconds on each of your five senses. Make a note or two regarding what you perceived:
Where in your life would going out of your mind and coming to your senses have the greater benefit?
“Muddy water let stand will clear.”
—Tao Te Ching, Classic Chinese Text
Image from Unsplash by Roopak Ravi
Is your mind muddy?
To what degree are your thoughts, emotions, and feelings stirred up by the rapid, moving waters of daily events?
At such times, it seems impossible to see even inches ahead, and we often can feel paralyzed or lost.
Today’s quote – a Chinese proverb – suggests we can all find greater clarity by slowing down and letting those muddy issues blocking our view settle out, so we can once again move forward.
Over the past two years I have instituted the daily practice of a 10-minute meditation, using an app called CALM. This resource continues to get better with additional tools, including their popular sleep stories to clear and settle one’s mind at bedtime.
Check out CALM at the website or at the app store. Please consider replying to this post with the mind-clearing strategies that work best for you.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Image from Flickr by katmary
Research has shown that angry outbursts have a damaging effect on the heart, and increases the risk of a heart attack twofold.
This seems to be the case with expressed as well as repressed anger, when we try to hold it in.
Other harmful aspects of anger include the risk of stroke, and a weakening of the immune system, diminishing the body’s ability to protect itself and heal.
Consider any or all of the following strategies to reduce or perhaps even prevent anger’s harmful effects.
- Breathing Exercises
- Muscle Tensing Exercises
- Doing #1 and #2 Together!
- Exercise and Physical Activity
- Time in quiet, natural surroundings