Saturday, January 19, 2013
Time to Meditate:Erin Diedling
It’s time to meditate!
Everyone who’s anyone is doing it. New year. New commitment to body, mind, spirit…so many people are attempting to meditate or at least expressing an interest in starting a mindfulness discipline. But I come across so many friends, acquaintances and lots of clients who are intimidated at the prospect of meditating. They’re afraid to ask. Or if they do ask it’s often sheepishly about how to meditate. They think I’m an expert. I often hear, “I’d like to but I’m no good at it”. They think it’s for OTHER people.
The more I meditate, the more I learn about how simple and simply messy it is. The more regard I have for the simplest of concepts: grounding, centering, release, focus, space, compassion, happiness, energy, ease, etc, etc. Some of the best moments of learning are when I teach a brand new person how to center, ground or focus and they make the most profound observations. It’s humbling to observe people transform before my eyes.
But get this, meditation is for everyone. Not just for those rare and peculiar people who think that it is so easy, a breath of fresh air, peaceful and simple. Ideally, it is. But most of the clients I see deal with anxiety, depression, trauma, even stage fright. And getting down to meditation can cause people to first face the sometimes scary anxiety fence and then hop that anxiety fence. Sometimes the anxiety speaks louder than the desire to get past the anxiety. My beloved teacher, Kenneth Jones, would begin leading his meditation students with, “abandon all hope!” But once you do it’s kinda fun. A sense of humor is critical when meditating. The Dalai Lama, that guy – he laughs all the time.
AND, just so you know, meditation – it’s a MESS!
Yes, meditation is messy. Like making a mud pie. You gotta get your elbows down into it. But hey, don’t you remember how much fun it was to make mudpies?
Have you ever cleaned out that junk drawer or cleaned the clutter out of the utility closet? It’s kind of like that. OK, so maybe that doesn’t inspire you to meditate just yet. What I’m saying is, give yourself a break. It’s a process. Remember learning to tie your shoes. No? Alright, remember the security settings on facebook? It was a process. There’s a learning curve, the growth spurt that happens before it begins to feel REAL.
When it comes to this process, you can even shop for meditation? Hop online and you can find gazillions of meditations. All different styles, types, classes, schools of thought.
SO many KINDS of meditation. There’s Deepak Chopra and Andrew Weil endorsing basic breathing, progressive body scan relaxation, my personal favorite - psychic meditation, walking meditation, transcendental (not for amateurs) and even some of the simplest meditations, Gong meditation, sonic/acoustic vibrational healing meditation, healing dolphin meditation. And on and on.
I like Zen Bhuddist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach: he’s into the “brushing teeth meditation”, the “washing the dishes meditation”, the “eating a PB and J meditation” (alright, so I extrapolated that one from his mindful eating approach but still…). He’s all about offering gratitude and happiness in each moment, for the warm soapy water feeling on your hands to the feel of the toothbrush and more: presence of mind.
Anything can be a meditation. Especially if it’s approached with awareness in the moment.
For some people it’s golf. For others it’s yoga. If you’re a Mario Batali fan, you’ll notice that cooking is a meditation. Sitting on the beach can be a meditation. Being near water, on a mountain, hiking a forest trail or even knitting. When I used to ice skate we had to trace figure 8’s. That was a form of discipline but it’s also a meditation.
I’ll let you in on the insider’s guide to meditate:
Bring your attention within. Notice that special part of you that creates and imagines and dreams. Perhaps you’ll even notice the part of you that sees mental images.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Notice when was the last time you brought your attention within?
Seriously, when was the last time you were focused inward in such a way? Your attention has a power all it’s own. Keep focusing within.
So now, just get a sense of you and your body and your personal space.
Feels kinda good, right?
Notice your feet. Your hands. Can you feel the floor below your feet. Can you feel the chair you’re sitting on? Try it.
There you go. That’s the stuff.
Now, “throw all caution to the wind”, let’s try a little somethin’ somethin’ here: see if you can get a feeling, a sense, even an image, if you dare, of being connected to the center of the earth.
You’ve got it!
WARNING: here’s the messy part.
Now just see if anything jumbled up, anxiety-provoking or bumming you out can just flow down into the earth. And RELEASE . Anything you are ready to let go of, let it go to the earth.
Fear not, Earth can take it. Earth likes to recycle. Earth is cool like that. She’s very supportive and giving.
Keep releasing. No work. No effort. Just let go.
If it’s comfortable, you can now gently bring your attention back to you. Go slowly. Let yourself know you’re coming out of guided imagery.
Come on out.
Well done. You just meditated. Don’t tell anyone just how cool you are.
You’re pretty cool. And you’re an excellent meditator. Check it, Dalai Lama. You’ve got company.