This past weekend I finished my third free mindfulness meditation class. It’s been invigorating, although carrying the practice to home is um, er, eek. A struggle. I am still determined to make meditation part of my daily routine and every week I pick up more cool tips that I know will bring me there eventually.
Last week’s class focused on the breath. How often do you go about your day and ever stop to think, hey, I’m breathing! Your breath goes on without conscious thought or effort. When you think about your breath, it is an exercise in presence. You are presently noticing your breath. Meditation is the art of focus. When you make a conscious effort to focus on something, you are effectively meditating. You are present in the moment and your mind is free from clutter. If you have 5 minutes, close your eyes or bring them to a low gaze. Breath in and out slowly and bring your mind to concentrate on the inhalation and exhalation. How it feels. Feel it fill up your chest, then bring your breath down into your belly and release it. If your mind wanders, OK. It happens. Meditation takes practice like everything else.
This week we brought that focus to our bodies. Mindfulness is knowing what you are doing, while you are doing it. Acknowledge the truth of the moment. An effective and powerful healing practice is the body scan. It is best to start with a guided body scan, which you can find for free here. The importance of the body scan is to openly acknowledge your body and how it feels. Remember what I just mentioned about stopping during your day to acknowledge your breath? Our bodies need this too. If you have chronic pain, headaches, or get sick frequently this practice is definitely for you. Your body is telling you something. Stop and listen to it. Bring your focus to your ailments. Allow the mind to relax while you acknowledge the pain. When we allow our minds to relax we activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for healing, regeneration, rebuilding. It balances the fight & flight response of our sympathetic nervous system. In our busy lives, we sometimes don’t allow ourselves enough time for rest and relaxation and happiness. This is when illness creeps in.
Our children have winter break this week, so I decided to take vacation to spend time with my kids at home. For myself, I wanted to be present in fun activities with them without the interruption of work & chores & schedules but I also wanted to spend some time being present for just me. I’ve been practicing noticing my breath, I did a 20 minute meditation during nap time three days in a row so far and will try a body scan while drifting off to sleep tonight. Another fabulous benefit of the body scan: deep, restful sleep. By making a conscious effort for myself this week, I am confident I will crave this attention when our schedule goes back into full swing on Monday. The beginning of a wonderful HABIT!
So, curiously, when you meditate and focus on your breath or your body, you might say, “Oh hello self!” A magic awakening of ourselves that so easily gets ignored in this race we call life. And with regular meditation practice, I am excited to see myself unfold.