By Bria Simpson
To maintain sanity in such an era, we may have to become intimate with stillness ... If it is healing for us when faced with life-threatening and chronic diseases, how can it not be healing for us in the face of the disease of feeling totally and chronically overwhelmed and bereft, that our lives are somehow unfolding faster than the nervous system and psyche are able to manage well. — Jon Kabat-Zin
If we want to enjoy our daily lives, it is exceptionally helpful to slow down for part of the day and focus on your breath. Research has shown that periods of meditation — of focusing on your breath — helps us transcend worries, lowers our anxiety, diminishes depression and increases clarity. Meditation balances our moods and enhances our ability to connect fully with who we are.
Does this sound hokey? I understand if it does. It used to, for me — before I added meditation and yoga into my life. I thought that people who sat around just to breathe must be seriously lacking stimulation in their life. But that was then ... I now reign myself in from cultish-type behavior of hounding other people to do some kind of meditation or yoga. I worry about the effects that the high level of stress and constant activity in our culture has on our children and on ourselves. And I revel in the benefits of meditation and yoga and want others to enjoy the benefits as well.
Beginning to meditate
When you meditate, at first, you may not notice much. You may be telling yourself, "Aha! I was right. Only really weird people meditate. I'm not getting anything out of this because I am simply not really weird!" You may try so hard to "get it right" that you are missing the point — to relax and be in the moment. In our western culture, we are so programmed to believe that without "doing," we are wasting our time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The benefits of meditation are powerful. It becomes easier to let go of judgment. You start to feel better and the small stuff begins to appear just as it really is: small. Friends may even start to ask you how you handle all the stresses in life so well. One day you wake up and say, “Wow! I am actually a calmer person.” If you come from a life in overdrive, as I have, that is a real accomplishment.
The meditating mama
The primary objective of meditation is to focus on your breath. The thoughts are still there — dinner still has to be made or bought and that person who was rude to you may still annoy you. Just let the thoughts wash over you and come back to your breath.
A few tips on becoming a meditating mama:
• Find a quiet place to meditate. Unplug your phone and make sure you won't be interrupted by anyone.
• Sit in a comfortable, upright position cross-legged, or lie flat on your back on the floor. Many people who know a more than I do about meditation prefer sitting. I am just much more comfortable and relaxed lying down, so that is what I do.
• Close your eyes, take three or four deep breaths and then start to breathe gently. Let your thoughts drift away and focus on your breath.
• As your thoughts jump around, come back to your breath.
• Start with five minutes a day and try to build up to at least 15 minutes a day. Meditating gets easier with practice.
• In the unofficial Bria version, if you fall asleep, that's okay — because you need it. I was relieved recently to hear Mr. Kabat-Zin, a guru on the subject, agree with this theory. He believes that you will sleep more peacefully if you start in this manner, and I couldn't agree more! (So if you are prone to falling asleep, set a gentle music type of alarm clock when you need to wake up).
• Create a regular time in your schedule to meditate. Generally, first thing in the morning, during children's naptime or before bed works best. Schedule it and commit to meditating at least three times a week.
• Consider writing in a journal for a few minutes after you meditate. You may come out of meditation with more clarity. Sometimes it's helpful to jot down your thoughts. They are usually meaningful ones that may help guide you in some way.
That's it! Meditating is really not hard, and it's actually not all that weird. If you are still resistant, or just prefer a more physical approach to relaxation and connection with your true self, try yoga. Sometimes starting with yoga will lead you to periods of meditation. So open your mind and remember: you don't have to tell a soul!
© Bria Simpson
Bria Simpson specializes in helping moms strengthen and balance their family lives while rediscovering their own passions and interests. For a free sample coaching session, visit her web site at http://www.briacoach.com or e-mail [email protected]