For sure, mature, insight
Deep into the night
My man, meditate on beats
I rhyme right
Sunshine, beats and rhymes
Yo, we motivate while your mind state climbs
~ Zion I
Perhaps that seems dramatic but my mother always said I should have been named Sarah after Sarah Bernhardt who was thought to be the most famous dramatic actress well known for her expressive theatrical performances. Meaning Mom thought I was extremely dramatic. That said, meditation did save my life.
Starting with the year I turned 20, it would be the beginning of a very challenging but ultimately poignant decade for me. During that time I would:
- Be stalked
- Develop a digestive issue that kept me from gaining weight and anxiety due to the stalking
- Be forced to leave a fabulous job in mortgages (I was 22 making bank)
- Lose a pregnancy
- Get married
- Have a darling daughter by cesarean (she was breech)
- Lose my beloved grandmother to pancreatic cancer (I was her caregiver and POA – at the age of 26 with an infant of my own to take care of)
- Have another child – a beautiful boy this time
- Lose a dog to a car accident (still chokes me up)
- and eventually get divorced and move out becoming a single parent with two children under five years old – while only working part-time. I had been spiralling down for a long time.
When I was little, my mother taught me how to meditate. So little, we’re talking age three. I even remember sitting in the chair, a wicker one she still has, listening to her describe what I needed to do and how to mimic her position.
“Sit up straight, legs criss-crossed (back then we called it “Indian-style”) and rest your hands on your knees. Now close your eyes and breath slowly in and out. Focus on your belly, feeling it get full when you breathe in, and empty when the breath leaves you.”
I’d forgotten about this during my teens and part of my twenties. When I look back I often think I was in a fog from about the age of 11 until 29, a long time to be out of it. When I took charge of my life, asking for the divorce, taking care of my children on my own (with family/friend support) I knew I needed to do something more for myself to remain balanced.
For years I had been studying Reiki and Spiritual Counseling. Various religions and practices became my focus. When I got to Buddhism, I became re-acquainted with meditation like my mother had taught me. Reiki has its own form of meditation but it wasn’t the same.
When I combined the two with a ritual of a bath, then yoga, then focused relaxation – my life exploded – in a good way. The meditation is what brought me out of the fog. It is what helped me to see I had been playing the part of Sleeping Beauty in my own life. It was time to wake up.
Meditation became a blessed tool for me.
I could connect with God if I wanted to in those moments. I could let go of anything that weighed me down or I no longer needed. I could calm the chaotic waters of my life. It gave me clarity and focus. It allowed me to be a better parent and eventually I was able to heal the wounds of the past opening up myself to love and abundance.
Meditation can do so much with so little.
Five minutes of quiet breathing transforms a person from a frenetic metal ball reverberating through the pinball game of life to a swan floating along blissfully enjoying a calm lake. A walk with focused intent of simply being in the moment can shed the weight of anxiety and stress in mere minutes.
After teaching meditation for ages now, the common complaint from students and clients is, “I can’t clear my mind.” No one is asking you to clear your mind. You are not a monk who lives in a secluded monastery where there is no one else talking and little to no stress in your life.
It would be unrealistic to clear your mind in five minutes when your entire day was a giant shiznit show (yeah, I’m not a fan of swearing in my writing – once in a great while you’ll see it).
The goal is not to clear your mind but to bring it into focus.
To start, get comfortable. If you want to lie down, do it. It doesn’t matter if you fall asleep – you must need it if you do and if it happens, practice at a time when you’re less sleepy. Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable. Make sure the lighting is set for relaxation.
Some like it bright, while others prefer the dark. It is your preference. Wait, did you read that? It is all about your preference. If what I’m describing doesn’t work for you, find another description of how to meditate and attempt that one.
Just like there is no one diet fits all, not all meditations will work for everyone. Start slow, even with a minute of breathing in and out, focused on the breath.
The idea is simply to get started. If you need a focus, focus on the breath, or a picture or a sound or a candle (just don’t fall asleep with a candle).
Meditation is a practice.
No different than playing the piano or painting requires practice, so too does meditation. The more you do it, the more it becomes part of you and your daily life. It becomes inherent, rote, second nature. The more you do it, the more your life changes. For me, life is wonderful when looking through eyes opening from a meditation session.
This month of May is Meditation Month. Take it day by day. Give it a whirl, you might find your life changes – the sun shines brighter, your heart beats to a rhythm called happiness and calm.