One of the most important things in your life is breathing. Without it, you wouldn’t survive even a few seconds… So, pay attention to your breath whenever you remember. Keeping the body well oxygenated has many benefits. During meditation, one of the keys is being aware of your breath, which will lead you to deep relaxation if you allow it to.
Since I mentioned awareness, let’s explore it a bit, because this is a huge component. There is a big shift in your perspective, when you learn to step back and watch things, disidentifying from them. Becoming the watcher will show you your compass still can point north even though huge waves might be tossing your boat around. I just love this metaphor, it is so true! Most of us live in auto-pilot mode almost all the time. Awareness will wake us up from that, and turn the control back to us. Just as an example, how many times have you asked yourself, ”Am I already here? How did this happen?” Maybe in a taxi or a bus, sometimes even driving; we just let our thoughts carry us away and we lose track of the moment. Awareness will help us stay in charge of our lives, as sometimes opportunities pass us by and we are just not paying attention enough.
Another important point is keeping your mind open. Always. This will not just help you in your life, but also when meditating. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you did the “Nature Walk” meditation four days ago, and now you feel like trying it again. When you close your eyes and start the visualization, don’t put the whole picture there already! Try to recreate it first; maybe you will see different critters out in nature this time, or maybe the trees look greener today than they did before. And it’s OK. Recreating the moment will not just take you into a whole new experience, but it will also connect you in a deeper level to how you are feeling on this particular day. Let’s say clouds keep appearing on the once blue sky the other day you visualized it. It is not a problem, maybe it reflects your mind is currently so busy that thoughts keep trying to come into the picture presenting themselves as clouds. That is fine, just continue the experience anyways.
That brings me to another point: thoughts. Our minds are so occupied with millions of thoughts all the time! Our thoughts revolve around questions like “What am I going to do next?” or “What do I have on that shopping list again?”, and so forth. When stopping your day for a couple minutes to enjoy these relaxation exercises, you are actually trying to give a break to yourself, by relaxing in a comfortable and rewarding experience. So, try to not get involved with your thoughts. Easy to say, huh? Well, when you close your eyes, and try to think of nothing, still the thoughts will keep coming, you can try to visualize thoughts as clouds in the sky. As they come in, you notice them, but don’t judge or stop to look at them in details. Instead, you let them float by, the wind will take care of it. And if there is no wind, the flow will eventually make it move. Try not to worry about your worries too much – does that sound redundant? Sure, but it works. Worrying about whatever is giving you trouble in your life during a relaxation exercise or your workout or your breakfast won’t help you. But just try and keep the worry away for at least a couple of minutes, and pretty soon you will see a light at the end of the tunnel, and the solution to your problem might come as a feather floating so lightly that it would have been hard to notice hadn’t you been so aware!
Consistency is another key when meditating. The more often you try, the better. If today you managed to meditate for five minutes, you might be able to do it for eight minutes tomorrow. Sometimes you might have a setback and be able to only close your eyes and keep trying to shoo the thoughts away, until after one minute you give up. If you feel like that is enough, it is fine. Don’t force anything. Stay for as long as you feel comfortable, and if you try at least once everyday for no matter how long, you will get there. And when you’re able to spontaneously clear your mind for a good while, the rewards are wonderful! Your mind will be clear, thoughts will be more organized (which could reflect on your life and house, if you allow it to), and creativity will flow into your daily life.
Being flexible helps a lot. Many situations in life will be way better to deal with if you are flexible enough when handling them. This also helps when you try to meditate. Maybe you had planned to follow guided meditation C today, but your mind keeps telling you it wants the meditation A. Why would you fight it? Go with text A today then, it’s not a problem! Or for instance you had no time to meditate, and you are going to end up in a hotel room with your kids, but you already feel exhausted while driving there. Well, you are probably going to fall asleep after you put the kids to sleep (if not even before!), so arrange another plan. It’s good to have the same setting to meditate every day, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you should get frustrated, just rearrange plans. In this case, it would be a good idea to meditate while on your way to that destination (supposing you are not driving, of course!); or maybe you extend a bathroom visit for a couple extra minutes, preferably after everyone else has used it already, and meditate there.
This is how I summarize these key points today. Maybe tomorrow I will add more or explain them a bit differently; and it’s all good. Ha! I just remembered something else: Don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process!