Archive for ‘Meditation’

December 22, 2011

Don’t forget to breathe! (a.k.a. – Surviving the Holidays)

Children singing, people laughing, bells ringing, people calling, emails flying, emotions soaring… the holidays are here!

In the midst of all of the flurry of the holidays it’s easy to get caught up in all of it and forget to take care of ourselves.  There’s so much energy swirling around you can practically feel it and if you close your eyes, you just might get dizzy.

It’s in this time, when I feel myself spinning, things moving so fast around me that everything becomes a blur.  I’m making my lists, all 240 of them, and checking them twice, and three times and four times, then transferring them to another list so I only need to focus on what’s left….  The house needs cleaning, cards need mailing, gifts need wrapping, menus need planning, cookies need baking… ribbon is twirling, lights are flashing… make it stop!

The other day as I was feeling the pressure from every direction a friend reminded me… “in the storm, create your own centered space, Zen, if you will”.  Then everything came to a stop.  Calm and peacefulness came over me.  I was feeling the storm and needed to revert back to my centered space. I had gotten caught up in the undertow.  My friend threw me a life-preserver.  When I “go inside”, meditate and ground myself, I’m a much happier and calm person.  I smile at the chaos.  It’s like having a magnetic force field protecting me from the noise.  And by noise, I mean everything: the music, the commercials, the reminders, the emails, the registers, the intense emotions, the intoxicating scents, all of it.

Raisin

If I go to my centered space (envision the raisin exercise), I can watch it all take place (much like watching a movie), take it all in, and then choose whether or not to get involved.  I get to choose my action versus just reacting to the situations at hand.

So as the days wind down to just hours until we celebrate Jesus’ birth, I thought it would be a good time to pay it forward.  Just as my friend reminded me to go within, I’ll remind you as well.  When things get hectic, when emotions are running high or low, when things feel like they are getting out of control and everyone is losing sight of the true meaning of Christmas, remember to go to your centered space and breathe.

Just… breathe.

Kate

November 9, 2011

The Key to Happiness – Eat a Raisin!

Be Right Here.  Three simple words with so much meaning.

Like many people, I have a tendency to multitask, which in many cases ends up being multi-done-half-assed.  I’ve found that when I don’t truly focus my attention in one area and try to do too many things at once I’m completely distracted, my mind runs crazy, jumping from one subject to the other and I never really accomplish what I set out to do.

A few months ago I decided to try to correct this (and eliminate a little stress in my life) by taking some meditation classes at a nearby pilates and fitness studio.  Having heard the word “meditation” so much I was expecting a profound experience.  What I wasn’t prepared for is how simple it is.  Really simple.  Simple as in SLOW DOWN simple.  Shut everything off, especially your mind and focus on where you’re at right now.  That’s all.  The funny thing is, this is probably the hardest class I’ve ever taken. You have no idea how many things you start to hear when you try to quiet your mind.  You can hear people talking in another room as if they were standing right next to you.  You can hear water running in pipes, wind blowing outside, traffic and sirens in the distance. Your heartbeat seems loud and conversations that took place over a week ago replay over and over in your mind.  It’s a little disturbing.  I wasn’t sure I could do it.  I was frustrated. Other than my freshman year of college taking Calculus and thoroughly not grasping the concept of the limit of infinity there haven’t been a lot of subjects that didn’t click with me at some point.  But this meditation stuff was different.  I really felt like I didn’t “get it”.  And I didn’t, not at first.  Each session we were taught to meditate in a different state… not like Tennessee or Texas, but sitting, standing, even eating.  We even had homework.  Go home and do a routine activity and really “be” there when you do it. Do it mindfully.  I decided to brush my dog.  I went back to class next week and volunteered to go first (a stretch for me) and told about my experience.  “What did you notice?” our instructor asked.  I explained that I noticed the dog really liked the attention, especially because she has short hair so she doesn’t get brushed very often (or ever) and that she was really happy. She obviously didn’t like my answer so she asked “What else did you notice?”  All I could think was “What the hell kind of question is that?  What are you looking for? WHY did I volunteer to go first?”  Yep.  I clearly didn’t get it.

I didn’t think I was made out for this meditation stuff so I did what any other self-doubting meditation lackey would do.  I ordered a book on meditation.  The book is called Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (which I would highly recommend by the way).  The nice thing about the book is that it’s not a quick read type thing, it’s a “give you something to think about” type thing.  A focus for the day.  He didn’t say anything in the book that I hadn’t already heard in class but it started to make sense.  I think because I had more time to absorb it.  I could read it and re-read it then let it soak in.  That’s when things started to click.  That and when we ate raisins in class.

Wherever You Go There You Are

Try this some time.  Put one raisin in your mouth.  Close your eyes and just let it sit there in your mouth, not just for a second, but for a couple of minutes.  Notice the texture, the smell (I for one can say I had never “smelled” a raisin before), how it feels in your mouth.  Then, bite it.  Just once.  What do you notice?  (I swore I had the most plump and juicy raisin on the planet.  Juicy?  Really. Juicy.  Try it!)  Then, chew it.  Really chew it, sense the flavor, texture, smell, everything about it.  THAT my dear, is being mindful.  Who knew eating a raisin could have such a profound impact, right?

The thing is, that is how we should be in every part of every day of our life.  Granted it’s not always possible to eat everything mindfully to that degree or one meal would literally run into the next, but applying that same concept to cooking, cleaning, driving, reading with our children, being with our friends and family, truly “being” there instead of being distracted.  It truly is amazing.

So that’s what I try to do now, be mindful with everything that I do.  Don’t  get me wrong, I don’t always remember and I’m not trying to say I’m perfect, far from it!! But what I can say, is that I’m aware and when I remember to slow down and be in the moment I really enjoy what I’m doing.  I even bought an inexpensive little bracelet to serve as a reminder.  It has a little tag/charm with “BRH” on it… Be Right Here.  I wear it daily as a reminder.

Be Right Here

Just think, if all of us put the cell phones down and were really there when we were driving, focused only on driving, seeing the road, the traffic, anticipating others errors and not getting angry because we saw it coming; if we were really there with family and friends and listened wholeheartedly hearing what they said, being in tune with their feelings, emotions, excitement or disappointment instead of pretending to hear them while we were busy texting, emailing or posting on Facebook; if we all put the focus and importance on what was going on in front of us instead of what was going on in the background I think we’d all live a happier, more fulfilling life because then, we would be giving our whole selves to each other and not just a distracted piece of it.  We would be living mindfully.

Today I encourage everyone to eat a raisin. Be Right Here in whatever you do.

I hope it brings you happiness.

Kate