We often think of meditation as formal exercise where we have to sit in a special place, at a special time, for a long time and be able (without any practice) to quieten and clear our minds. However, it can be much simpler than that and every 2 minutes we can find throughout the day to put these simple things into practice will contribute to a greater feeling of calm.
There are many different ways we can bring ourselves back into our bodies and out of our minds. Here are some simple things you can try.
Whenever you’re waiting somewhere - for the kettle to boil, in a queue, for the kids to come out of school, for an appointment - try the following
Close your eyes if you can, or lower them, focus on your breath, imagine a little person at the tip of your nose and s/he is watching the breaths come and go – in the left nostril, out the right nostril, in the right nostril, out the left. Feel the breath, just let it flow naturally, don’t force it to be anything except a comfortable flow, feel your rib cage move, gently rising and falling with each breath. Try counting 3 breaths and repeat the cycle if you have time. If thoughts come along, just watch them, try not to attach to them.
This one is still easy to do in 2 minutes or so and is good when you’re sitting somewhere by yourself (it's also is my favourite)
Sit comfortably, feet flat on the floor, your body symmetrical, back upright, eyes closed or lowered.
Pay attention to your breathing – without making it laboured or trying to force it. Simply observe the natural flow of breath as it passes through your nostrils.
Feel the seat below your legs, feel the floor beneath your feet, the feel of your clothes on your skin, pay attention to any breezes or flow of air on your skin.
And now listen, to the sounds around you. Listen to the sounds inside the room – the sound of your breath, a clock ticking, then listen to the sounds outside the room – a car going past, people talking, birdsong. Then shift your hearing to sounds beyond your immediate area – listen out as far as you can – till you hear the waves in the ocean, the sounds of the earth.
And just sit, let any thoughts come and go, come and go, let them just be, don’t follow them, don’t be upset that they come, just let them happen. You could imagine that they’re like birds flying by, or clouds floating past.
You don’t need to be anything, do anything, change anything, go anywhere, just for a few moments, simply be.
Stay with this for a few moments and then bring your hearing back to the sounds of your body – heart beating, breathing in and out. Then be aware of the room around you, the feeling of the seat beneath you and feel ready to do whatever it is that you need/want to do next.
As a herbalist in Sydney, I feel that every client would benefit from a few moments of calm like this in their day to day lives. As you practice these techniques, be patient and be kind to yourself – it takes time to calm our thoughts; we have 2.2 thoughts for every breath, so to slow these down takes a lot of practice. Just imagine that you have never exercised and one day you decide to – would you expect to run a marathon on the first day? No? Then be gentle with your expectations of meditation.
Love and light,