“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention, otherwise whole days, even a whole life, could slip past unnoticed” – Jon Kabat Zin
The research is solid: Meditation is one of the healthiest practices you can employ to improve your quality of life and overall health.
Meditation is simply the practice of pausing. I think there are some misconceptions related to the practice of meditation. To meditate, one is not required to spend hours sitting cross-legged on a pillow while chanting (although that can be pretty incredible). And, it does not have to involve eastern religions.
We live in a culture that pushes us to constantly be on the move. In an effort to integrate mindfulness (paying attention on purpose) meditation in my daily life, I have truncated my meditation practice to fit into the cracks of my day.
Let me share with you my daily mediation practice.
When I wake up in the morning, I pause for a quick moment to breathe and be thankful before getting out of bed.
Then throughout my day, I pause, stretch my body, take three to six deep breaths (or more), and check to see how I’m feeling (am I hungry, am I happy, am I frustrated). I like to look out the window and see what is happening in the world (at this moment it is a sunny winter day). I rest my eyes and my shoulders. This practice takes no more than one minute. I repeat this practice about every hour.
Before I fall asleep, I pause and reflect on my day. I check in again to see how I’m feeling. I take a number of slow deep breaths and I reflect on the things for which I am grateful. I also reflect on moments where I may have not been the best version of myself. I try not to make this a punitive practice (trying to be more self-compassionate and all) but that is a work in progress.
Typically, that is all there is to the way I meditate.
On days where spaces of time open up, I will spend more time breathing and being grateful (remember gratitude is the KEY to happiness). And because I’m human, there are days where I drag myself out of bed, maybe pause once (if at all), and fall asleep without any reflection. I am doing the best I can.
For some people, when they pause they use Bible verses like: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
For others (I use these a lot) they use Metta Meditations or Loving Kindness Meditations: “May I have peace, May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I have love“
With meditative practice you can do and say what ever brings you to the present moment. Remember: The goal of meditation is not to make thoughts or feelings go away or “feel better.” The goal is to simply and kindly notice what you are thinking and how you are feeling. This awareness can help reduce reactivity and defensiveness and soften your overall approach to life.
“Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me as my own thoughts.” Henry David Thoreau