Give Yourself Shelter
Give Yourself Home
Give Yourself Play
We all need sanctuary, a time and place to rest and renew. The beauty of meditation, a proven and profound form of self-care for mind and body, is that where you are, anywhere, you can access that place of restorative calm.
This weekend, give yourself some special moments for restoring your sense of well-being. You can approach this by taking a few extra minutes to rest in moments of appreciative, exquisite attentiveness in the midst of your normal actions.
Here are some examples.
Waking Up to Life
When waking up, linger in bed for an extra few minutes, and do some gentle stretches. Center your awareness on a focusing thought – name a quality you want the day to have. Think of a favorite prayer or sutra.
Standing under the shower
Standing under the shower, close your eyes and pay attention to the totality of your body and your entire skin.
Drinking tea, water, or your morning coffee, spend extra time savoring. Cherish a glass of water as if it was something really special.
Sitting there with the cup in your hand as you finish drinking, put the cup down and then close the eyes and cherish a few breaths with the same kind of enjoyment you bring to your favorite potion.
Walking, vary your speed, slower and faster, and notice the effect on your body and awareness.
Raise your arms to the sky. Walk for half an hour, then stand somewhere with your arms lifted to the sky.
In with the new, Out with the old
Outside in a garden, at the beach, or in your house, do simple in and out motions, such as moving the hand in toward the heart when you breathe in, and move the hands outward when you breathe out:
-in with the new breath
-out with the old breath.
Do this for five or ten minutes, long enough to start to sense your energy flowing.
Follow your rhythms
Follow your rhythms. In a day, we tend to be active for 16 hours and then sleep and regenerate for 8. That's called a circadian rhythm.
The body also has a 90-minute to two-hour rhythm of activity and restfulness. It's like the rhythm of a day, only shorter, and is called an ultradian rhythm. We feel energized and awake for 90 to 120 minutes, and then we start to daydream, yawn, and need to do something else. The tendency is to have 20 minutes of off-time. Then we are good to go again. Scientists have mapped all this – you can measure it in the brain waves, the endocrine system, and objective tests such as performance on a task. It's the basis of union hours. Train yourself to notice and honor your ultradian rhythms.
Even during your "day off" take a tea or coffee break every two hours. Sit down somewhere and rejoice, or take a walk.
In the midst of the afternoon, whenever you feel like yawning, do so and then lie down as if to take a nap, and just savor the sweet sensations. It does not matter if you go to sleep or not, just take the quiet time.
Imbibe the Elixir
Some time in the afternoon, drink a glass of water or juice as if it were the Elixir of Life, or a $200 bottle of wine, or a healing potion. Put your attention in your tongue and really know what you are doing as you drink.
Bathe in Music
Put your favorite music on the stereo and dance to it or lie down and surrender to it for half an hour.
All such moments allow us to savor the experience of living and help us feel both deeply calm and deeply alert, in tune both with our self and with the world around us. Moments we come away from feeling refreshed, renewed, and engaged. Meditation is a way of communing with spirit.
You find your own favorites.
Attention is tending. When you meditate, you are tending to your sore places, restoring circulation and equilibrium to all the nerves you overuse, all the places in you that are carrying too much responsibility or energy. The ability to do this is instinctive, and is similar to befriending – the kind of love we manifest or crave to receive in a healthy and loving relationship. This is the most challenging concept for most busy people to understand. Meditation is befriending.
Get used to the idea that your skills of awareness are worthy of cultivating. You can plant tiny seeds and water them and be rewarded a few months later with an abundance of vegetables.
Be Natural with Yourself
We all know how to meditate; its an instinctive ability. If youve ever been deliciously absorbed gazing at the flow of a river, the dance of a fire, the twinkle of stars, youve enjoyed meditative moments.
And you can create those moments almost anywhere at any time. If you have a favorite place in your home in which to meditate, thats wonderful. But you can meditate just as effectively sitting at your desk or on a park bench, or lying in the grass. The fact is, the juicier and more sensual you let meditation be, the more you will get out of it.
Choose a pleasing, peaceful focus for attention: sensations, such as the flow of your breath; a sound you make, such as ahhh; or a visual image, such as waves coming to shore. This is your home base.
Lightly focus your attention, and when your mind wanders off, gently come back to home base. Minds wander a lot. Minds are supposed to wander. So go easy on yourself and accept the process. Those are the basics, but there is no one right way to meditate; explore what works for you. These two simple meditations will help you get started.
MEDITATION ONE - Sensuousness of Breath
Time 5 to 10 minutes
When + Where Anytime, anywhere.
Position Sitting comfortably or lying down, eyes open or closed.
Intention - I bask in healing pleasure. I receive the nourishment into every cell of my body.
One of the most universal meditation practices is to take pleasure in the flow and rhythm of breath. Buddha described this as breathing in and out sensitive to rapture.
1 Breathe out with a deep sigh a few times and notice what that feels like. Let yourself make quiet whooshing sounds. If you feel a stretch or a yawn coming on, give in to it. Gently ask yourself, What pleasure do I feel in breathing?
2 Explore the sensations that accompany breathing -- the feeling of the chest expanding and contracting, the gentle touch of the air gliding through the nose and down the throat, filling and then emptying the lungs. How luscious can you let breathing be? Perhaps you enjoy the relaxing ebb and flow of the breath, or love breathings whispering sounds. If youre outside, you might savor the fragrance of grass, trees, or flowers as you inhale. You might feel simple wonder at receiving this essential gift from life.
3 Breathe with this type of awareness for 10 minutes or so, allowing your attention to be soft and undemanding, like rose petals on your skin. Thoughts and feelings about your life will come into your awareness; this is healthy and healing, so dont try to block them out. Just keep coming back, gently, to the sensuousness of breath when you can.
MEDITATION TWO - Heart Warming
Time - 5 to 20 minutes
When + Where - Anytime, though the end of the day is nice. Try to find a cozy place.
Position Sitting comfortably or lying down, eyes open or closed.
Intention I am awake to love. I am ready to give and receive.
In this meditation you give yourself time to feel the emotional impact of all that is in your heart. Be leisurely, and linger in any of the meditations phases for as long as you like.
1 Begin by thinking of someone or something you love without reservation. Notice the sensations that arise in your heart and let yourself be with whatever is therewarmth, aching, joy, longing.
2 Bring both hands to your heart, feeling the warm contact of your palms against your chest. Imagine your heart being warmed by your love, melting any cold places, any part of you that is afraid, grieving, or lonely.
3 Make a humming sound, such as ahhh or ohhmm. Enjoy the way the sound vibrates in your chest for as long as you like. Then gradually let the sound fade away; you can return to it at any time.
4 Again notice the contact of your hands on your heart. Slowly open your arms outward, as you would to embrace someone. Take a few breaths and then slowly bring your hands back to your chest. Repeat this movement several times with great leisure. The simple motion of opening to give and drawing in to receive is a yoga of the heart, a way of expressing balance. End by bringing your hands back to your heart; pause, savoring the sensations and feelings. +