Weekly Challenge Guest Post! Meditation

by Sherry

Today at Sarvodaya's Early Morning meditation

Hello all! I am happy to bring you another guest post this week that coincides with our next Weekly Challenge. Meet Anilia, a health and wellness coach in the Baltimore area. Our challenge is to try out meditating this week. There is no expectation to do it everyday, or every week, just to give it a try. Read Anilia’s post below for tips and “a little inspiration.”
 
I started meditating when my mind stopped being clear.  When I was young, a child and even a teenager and young adult, I always had plenty of mental “space.”  I was never one of those who couldn’t turn off thoughts or focus on the present moment.  I believe many of us are like this from the beginning but the events in our lives and temperament eventually changes us as we age unless we notice and takes steps to stop it.
One day I realized I wasn’t sleeping well any more.  I had trouble listening to friends and co-workers because I was busy thinking about what I was going to say or what I needed to do.  I even noticed that during sex I might just drift away.  Thinking about inane things like laundry and meal plans.  You know it has gone too far then!
When I had a baby, it was so easy.  All I wanted to do was be right there and stare at this amazing creature that my body had made!  Made!  As he got older, especially into toddlerhood, I really had to reconnect with the breath to keep myself present and calm;  Patient and behaving like the mother I knew I wanted to be.
This year I have deepened my practice even farther by joining a sangha, a group of Buddhist, to meditate weekly.
The benefits of any practice are deep.  You can see many studies that show the difference in brain waves between a person who meditates regularly and on who does not.  There are direct correlations between meditation and feeling happier, calmer.  The other nice thing about meditation is it doesn’t discriminate:  you can follow any religion (or none at all) and still meditate.
Here are three easy steps to getting started:
1) Decide that it is actually something you want to do.  This is big, even if it seems simple.  You can read about meditation, think about it, talk about it.  But like exercise, that doesn’t mean you are doing it.  Meditation is all about awareness and intention.  You have to be intentional.
2) Find a time.  This is easy.  You can meditate while doing any number of other things if you can’t find time to yourself.  Washing dishes, you know you are washing dishes.  You feel the warm water, you see the bubbles of soap glisten.  Meditation can happen whenever you bring your full attention to the present.  If you have the time to sit and be still, amazing!  If you already run or walk for exercise, use that time to clear your mind too.  But don’t let the excuse of too little time get in your way.
3) Okay- here is a little practice.  If you are sitting get comfortable with your hands resting gently in your lap.  If you are standing plant your feet comfortably.  If you are doing an activity try to relax all the parts of you not actively engaged.  Close your eyes if you can and helps it you focus.  I prefer to stare at a fixed object.
Breathe in.  While breathing in say to yourself, “I am breathing in.”
Feel the air come into your lungs.  Feel it fill you up.  Feel it want to leave.
Breathe out. While breathing out say to yourself, “I am breathing out.”
Feel the breath travel back up.  Feel the muscles tighten to empty the air.  Feel the desire to refill.
Do this for at least two minutes.  If your mind wanders, it is okay.  Gently bring it back. In.  Out.  In. Out.
You can stay here and do this as long as you want.  Try to build up to ten minutes.  View it as training your mind to stay in your body.  Whenever your mind is elsewhere you change from a human BEing to a human DOing.  And we are human BEings!
After this- if you are sitting- try this.  Without losing the connection to your breath altogether, open your ears.  Listen to the things you hear closest.  Maybe your kids playing or your partner snoring.  The creaks of the house or the rattle of the dishwasher.  Then open up farther.  What do you hear from outside?  Are there cars driving by? Is it raining? Are there birds?  And reach with your ears as far as you can.  Is there a train or construction in the distance?  Slowly come back.  Reconnect to breath.  Open your eyes.
If you are performing a task or walking- try this.  Without losing the connection to your breath altogether, feel what you are doing.  Are your feet in contact with the ground?  How does it feel?  Is there any discomfort?  No judging, not trying to “fix” anything.  Do you feel all parts of your feet as they contact?  Are your hands in the water?  How does that feel?  Are your eyes on the road ahead?  Is the light bright?  Are you shoulders relaxed or are they climbing towards your ears?  Is your jaw clenched?  When you have explored yourself for bit, return to the breath.  In. Out. In. Out.
Feel the space you have just created for yourself.  Enjoy it.  Thank yourself for taking the time.  Promise to do it again soon.
Three book recommendations for anyone who wants to go further:
Peace is Every Step and You Are Here, both by Thich Nhat Hanh
Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali
Find a sangha to practice with by typing your city and the word mediation into a google search.
Find more of me at A little inspiration…
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