Meditation Make-Over

by Misti Dian | May 30, 2019 3:46 am

With the ‘mindfulness movement’ in full force, everyone is trying to become more woke and self-aware. Many are touting practices that help TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE. There is so much new (and ancient) information circulating to capture us every single day. I am all for transformation, but how do we know what really works and what is just the next multi-level marketing ploy asking for our email address and $9.99 for a download? Honestly, we don’t really know. From considerable experience, research, education and truthfully doing things that do NOT work, I have learned ways to make it easier for us all to slow down, open ourselves to a higher perspective and get more enjoyment in our moments.

Meditation is simply an awareness of the present moment, and our breath is the access point. I refer to meditation as breath awareness. Nothing is more present for us than our breath. Don’t believe me? Just try stopping your breath, remembering it from a few moments ago …or planning your inhales and exhales out for the next hour. Could you? Our breath is about one thing – living in the NOW.

Many teachers and practitioners who regularly meditate have this sort of glow about them. They seem to glide easier through life in an effortless sense of calm and assurance. We want that (who wouldn’t?), so we decide to start meditating. We sit in silence, eyes closed and TRY so hard to reach a state of peace. We try harder. We get frustrated and try harder still. We doubt ourselves, and ultimately, we question the practice. We give up. We say, ‘I can’t meditate, what’s next?’

People are searching high and low for the next ‘answer’ to something that is believed to be missing. There is a desperation to find a magic formula. To find passion, purpose, and meaning in their lives. Which is what makes mindfulness BIG business. Unfortunately, it is within this frenzy our frustrations rule and negativity can catch like wildfire. The more we search, the more we feel eluded, bamboozled even. We compare our lives to what we have decided are standards set on social media rather than inside our own homes and hearts.

I want to offer something much more straightforward than this approach. What could be possible if we stopped searching outside of ourselves for answers? What could be possible if we set aside the search, faced ourselves and simply brought awareness to our breath? For me, meditation is not a time to escape myself or my struggles, but actually, a time to dive into myself, and it doesn’t require a hilltop in India to be possible. I meditate (breath awareness) for minutes at a time, at my kitchen table or maybe on my front porch. Or while walking my dogs, cooking or arranging flowers. At times, I do sit in my bedroom, cross-legged after yoga, and allow meditation also to include stillness. The point isn’t so much about WHAT we are doing but HOW we are doing it that matters. More importantly, observing our state of BEING is what matters the most. Doing and being are not the same. Meditation is mainly about being with ourselves and learning to love ourselves just as we are, no more and no less. One breath at a time.

Take the things you enjoy and place awareness on your breath. Start enjoying them in the moment.
If you want to try seated meditation, great. Have a seat, breathe in and out, and observe your breath without judging the effectiveness. Set a timer for a few minutes.
Instead of being taken by the idea of attaining peace, start creating it one meditative breath at a time.

Even a few minutes at a time is very productive, and because it is a practice, give yourself time for it to evolve into your own traditions. I see meditation as a spiritual practice. To me, spiritual practices are defined by anything (yes, ANYTHING!) that brings me into a state of gratitude. My clients often ask me if breath awareness for a few minutes can really make any difference? I tell them to try to stop their own breath for “a few minutes” and see if it makes a difference. It is okay to get curious and creative with your lives and practices. This is living mindfully, and you don’t need a paid subscription for that.

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