And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!”
And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”
I’m a big believer in the power of meditation to improve your state of mind and help you to become more focused. Most importantly, I believe that establishing a meditation practice is key to really reaping those benefits, as opposed to just meditating every now and then, or whenever you take a yoga class.
Lately I’ve really let my meditation practise slide; in fact my whole self-care routine has fallen apart, and I’ve really been noticing the side effects of this, as my thoughts have become more scattered, my emotions more volatile, and my energy levels decreased.
This often happens when we go through big changes in life, like moving or starting a new job etc… It’s important to get back on track as soon as possible.
If you don’t already have a self-care routine, consider starting one; it’s a wonderful way to begin and end every day, and can involve any activities you feel help you to relax and relieve stress. Taking time out of every day to take care of yourself promotes a feeling of self-worth that is not reliant on anyone or anything else. It sends the message “I am important and being kind and loving to myself is important to me”.
For a start, you can try this heart opening meditation I started this morning. It’s a variation on a meditation I used to do every morning, that I called “being a cup”. I was inspired to refine the visualization this morning and felt compelled to share it. It’s very simple, and I found myself feeling incredibly light and open afterwards.
First get into a comfortable seated position, preferably upright since you don’t want to fall asleep. Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breathing. Breathe in and out in long deep breaths through your nose, completely filling and emptying your lungs.
I’d love to be able to sit with each of you and teach you proper deep breathing, but unfortunately that’s not possible. The best way I can describe it is you feel like you are pulling air in through the back of your throat, instead of sniffing air in through your nostrils, even though you are still breathing through your nose. If you are doing this correctly, you should feel your air passages opening, and deep breaths of 8 counts in and 8 counts out should seem easy. When I am breathing deeply, pausing between breaths can be the most relaxing part of the meditation, because it’s the closest the body ever comes to stillness (while living of course!).
This isn’t the most important part though, so don’t worry if you haven’t got the knack of it yet. Just breathe deeply in a rhythm that seems easy to you.
Once you have a good rhythm going with your breath, and you’re starting to feel relaxed, then you can begin the visualization, if you’d like. It’s perfectly alright to just continue focusing on your breath, if you want. You may find thoughts popping up and your mind keeps wandering. Do not be deterred; simply bring your attention back to your breath, over and over. This is a practise in focus that will serve you well in future.
While you are breathing deeply in, filling your lungs from the bottom to the top, imagine you are a cup, a crystal clear goblet, and golden bubbly liquid like champagne is being poured in through the top of your head, your crown chakra. Feel your heart center being filled by this golden liquid, or light. Then, as you exhale, expelling all of the air from the bottom of your lungs to the top, imagine that golden light pouring out from your heart center.
Fill your cup completely, and then empty it completely.
Breathe in the Unconditional Love from Source, then breathe it all back out into the world, in no particular direction, just become a conduit for Love, indiscriminately pouring forth into the world.
Feel how every time you empty your heart, you are then filled again, how their is no ending to the eternal Love of Source.
Know that you can give all of your Love without fear, without needing to receive anything in return, because you will always be renewed.
Feel how your opening creates a void, and that Source Love rushes in to fill that void every time.
Know that the Love you are now a conduit for, that is now pouring from you, will find other voids to fill; you do not need to direct it.
Feel the surety of knowing that you always have access to that Eternal Unconditional Love.
I recommend 30 minutes twice a day, but you can start with less and work your way up to , or even exceed 30 minutes. If the Buddhist monks can meditate for 3 hours (YIKES!) every morning and evening, then the rest of us can manage 30 minutes.
Remember that this practise is for self-care and showing Loving kindness to yourself; if you are having to force it, beyond just the initial struggle to begin, then perhaps, for that morning, being kind to yourself is letting yourself off the hook! Perhaps, hitting a punching bag or going for a run, or some other cathartic activity, might be what you are needing. You may even feel like meditating afterwards. Remember also that your own fears and doubts may put up roadblocks to your self-care.
In my opinion, listening to your own inner guidance, and honoring the impulses that you receive from within, is the greatest form of kindness and respect you can show yourself. You will know true guidance because it will feel really good to listen to it; letting fears or doubts get in the way of self expansion will not feel good.
“If you meditate regularly, even when you don’t feel like it, you will make great gains, for it will allow you to see how your thoughts impose limits on you. Your resistances to meditation are your mental prisons in miniature.” – Ram Dass