Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Simple Meditation for Greater Mindfulness and Peace

Meditation is one of my favorite practices, in that it is so simple, yet so incredibly powerful.  When I have a consistent meditation practice I am more mindful, more focused, more calm in the face of challenge.  When I don't, life is just plain harder.  Meditation doesn't erase the challenges of life. (And who among us doesn’t have challenges?)  But it makes me less reactive to them and clearer in distinguishing between what is  important and what is not;  What I can control and what I cannot; What is real and what is a crazy trick of my overactive imagination. 
Many students I speak with assert that they "can't" meditate.  That when they try to meditate, their mind wanders.   Frankly, so does mine.  My chattering mind often sounds like the soundtrack to a bad episode of the Jerry Springer show. 
It doesn’t matter. 
Meditation is not the act of sitting still with a perfectly quiet mind.  Meditation is simply the act of noticing when your mind wanders and inviting it back--again, and again, and again.  The beauty is that every time you notice your mind wander and bring it back, you are learning to control your thoughts instead of letting them control you.  You may not notice the effects while you’re meditating, but I guarantee you’ll notice them in your daily life.  You’ll be calmer, clearer, and likely kinder.  Your loved ones will thank you!
Research shows that as little as ten minutes a day of meditation three times a week yields significant benefits in health and mental well being.     Give it a try and see what happens.   It won't be easy, but it is simple.  Just breathe, and notice.
Breath Focused Meditation:
  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling.  Sitting either in a chair or on the floor is fine, as long as you are physically comfortable and your spine is in “neutral”. 
  2. Allow your eyes to close or keep your eyes at “half mast” gazing quietly at a place below and in front of you.
  3. Notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it.  Feel the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.  Allow your mind to focus on and pay attention to this feeling of the breath.
  4. If your attention wanders (and it will!) just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose.  Try not to criticize yourself.  Instead congratulate yourself for bringing the attention back to the point of focus.
  5. Continue this meditation for ten minutes or longer if you’d like.
Let me know how it works for you!


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber's author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!


Linda O. Johnston said...

I love the concept of meditation, Tracy, but know that my subconscious mind will take over and plot something--and I'd undoubtedly let it! I suspect I'd be able to control it as much as I control my dogs...

Tracy Weber said...

The act of meditation is one of noticing when your mind wanders and inviting it back. Keep a notebook beside you. Every time your subconscious tries to plot, bring it back. After your 10 minutes of meditating are done, write whatever your subconscious tells you down in the notebook. Meditating actually increases creativity. You might be surprised!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Tracy,
What a great description of a simple meditation. In my soon to be released cozy one of my characters sits on the beach and meditates on the horizon. In my reseach, I did the meditation a number of times and you are right about eyes at half mast. Works for me.

Betty Hechtman said...

Crocheting and Knitting are a good way to focus your mind. Both crafts can be very meditative. I even include a pattern for a meditation wash cloth in For Better or Worsted. The idea is that making the simple pattern will help someone meditate.

Tracy Weber said...

Terrie, yay for you for trying meditation as part of your craft! Betty, I agree that both crocheting and knitting can be meditative, if done with focus. Not so much if done while watching TV! ;-) It's all in attention. Noticing when the mind wanders and bringing it back.