Wholeness and your connection to your authentic self always exist within you, but when you become stressed that inner clarity can become clouded leaving you feeling unhappy, lost, and unsure of yourself. When this happens it is time to stop, quiet your mind, open your heart and reconnect with your soul and the Divine.
I was reading an article in this morning’s paper about how meditation has gone viral. It is no longer a fringe activity. Even the medical profession and the corporate world are whole-heartedly embracing it. Why? The answer is simple; we are living in extremely stressful times and you don’t have to look too hard to find some research about the short and long term effect of ongoing stress.
With this in mind, should you cultivate some form of meditation practice, or reflective stepping out of the fast lane in your life? Probably. Do you need to go on a retreat to learn a specific form of meditation? Probably not.
Meditation does not have to be tied to a particular religion, though most religions have practices like prayer or chanting that help can an individual step out of the stress of day-to-day life, quiet their mind, open their heart and listen deeply to their inner guidance.
From my perspective, the aim of meditation is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system—basically move you out of reactivity or fight or flight and into your conscious problem-solving mind. This can be done in many ways, but there are some key components: the slowing and deepening of the breath and the purposefully focusing of the mind.
When my children were very young, like many working mothers, I didn’t have a lot of free time, but I also knew that if I didn’t purposely de-stress my system on a daily basis, I couldn’t be present and I would be more reactive and unconscious in my parenting. So I began converting my daily routines into a meditation practice.
I am a firm believer that most of our daily activities can be turned into a reflective, soul feeding and transformative activities. On the other hand you can change a profoundly transformative activity like yoga into a competitive non-restorative activity. Meditation helps us become present in the moment. This is important, because when we are present in the moment we have the capacity to transform inaccurate beliefs and perceptions and ultimately create a life that is a more accurate reflection of our authentic self. This is why some kind of daily meditation practice is good.
As we come to the final weeks of winter, I suggest you take the time to transform at least one activity each day into your own personal form of mediation—remember it is not what you do, it is how you do it. Vacuuming the rug, washing dishes, folding laundry and even picking up toys off the floor can become a restorative practice. You merely need to focus on your breath and link your breath with your movement. This will get you out of your thinking mind and into the present moment. Inhale as you move the vacuum forward and exhale as you move it back. Inhale as you swirl the sponge over the dish, and exhale as you rinse. Exhale as you lean over to pick up a toy or dirty sock and inhale as you straighten up.
Years ago when I was teaching aerial movement one of the challenges I used to give my students was to move from one side of the studio to the other (a 30 foot distance) in five minutes. From the moment they started they needed to stay in constant motion and they also needed to take the full five minutes getting to the other side. This incredibly simple activity helped them become more aware of their body, quiet their mind, and drove them into the present moment, and into their conscious mind.
Create a simple practice for yourself and you will see how simple it is to shift into the conscious mind and reconnect with yourself and what is really important to you.
Also, if you use an activity like vacuuming, washing the dishes or picking up toys off the floor for your meditation you will have the added benefit of a clean house.
Nancy Marie is leading a three-hour interactive workshop at the Wesak Celebration in Mount Shasta, CA. This is the first year that Wesak (The Celebration of the Birthday of Buddha) has offered an in-depth interactive workshop. This is also the first time that Nancy has taught both The Beckoning Song of your Soul techniques and the I Create What I Believe! art activities in the same workshop. Participants are in for a real treat!
Title: Restoring Balance and Rekindling Inner Wisdom
Date: Saturday May 2, 2015
Time: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Location: Mount Shasta, CA
For more information or to register for this event: http://wesak.us/index.php?ref=NancyMarie