Last thing you think of doing when in a transition and feeling out of control is to meditate. Yet, a voice nags at you saying, "It could help."
I am asked during workshops and private sessions, "How do I meditate when I am so restless?" My answer may surprise you.
...Close your eyes and simply get quiet.
I put myself in a place where I AM HERE NOW WITH MYSELF. I am breathing. I am sinking down within myself. Some quiet times are soft, relaxing, and others, restless.
Believe it or not, it is easier for me to say yes to meditating, when I am, "Praying" for someone else. Maybe it is easier because my intention for that quiet time has a concrete purpose, helping someone else.
I have been practicing since 1979, first in classes, which means a lot of years of different ways to connect within. Sometimes I don't sense, see or feel anything. Nothing happens. Bottom line for me is it takes practice. I think five minutes to be still is a priority in a day. I got better at not being so attached to what should, could, or needs to happen in my quiet times.
Changes happen when I get quiet. Sometimes I ask a question: "What do you want me to know today? What is happiness? What do I need to open to today? What have I ignored? So, those are examples of word entries to go within.
Other days, I use no words, I breathe in and out seven times and slowly, sometimes only four times. There are days, I simply sit and close my eyes and say NOW. As you can tell, it depends on my mood and intention for stillness. I am practicing ,no matter how many years or times I have gotten quiet, I know it is a practice and not a, "sure thing," for anything, except that I am with me.
I ALWAYS FEEL BETTER, no matter what I am saying or doing, when I take time to close my eyes and drop within. ALWAYS. In the beginning of my practices, I went down stairs as an image of going within. I saw stairs in my imagination and if I didn't see them, I faked it. I counted down. I stepped down.
Other practices I used was to open my eyes, light a candle and look at the flame, breathing consciously with no words, BEING PRESENT with what was right in front of me. Today, it is much easier to be present with a person or activity in the moment because I have practiced. It starts with being present with me, not ahead of myself and not in my past. I truly believe it is about practicing and not for hours. Hours are not me.... I am a doer and it did not come easily for me to be.
Years ago, I practiced by simply sitting in a chair and doing nothing, not reading, not talking, not watching television, NOTHING. Squirmy time in the beginning and even today, I can be squirmy to DO. I guess practice means for MY WHOLE LIFE. I am OK with that idea. The benefits of practicing and being with me is a motivator.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MEDITATION IS WORKING FOR ME?
- Am I more present to what is?
- Am I able to shift in the moment when fear or anxiety clogs my mind and races my heart?
- Am I happy?
- Am I irritable?
- Am I telling myself things that really aren't true?
By the way, one of the things I learned about myself is that irritability is a signal to me that I NEED HELP. I discovered that clue while meditating. So did that short story motivate you to meditate?
I now can ask for help and let others know, "I am so crabby because I need......." It is a win-win to have learned that behavior about me. Help might also be that I need to pause, stop, shift out of what I am doing and doing, because I have been doing too much.
What is meditation to you? What practices have you tried or might try? I love walking meditations, where I am with me walking and seeing what is right in front of me. I feel my feet on the ground as I walk. I don't listen to music every time I walk. I empty my head chatter and simply move down the road. When thoughts of what I should be doing or have to do, visit me, I say, NOT NOW or STOP IT.
You will discover what works for you.
I also love to do quick visualizations. I see myself doing something fun, like dancing and singing while I dance. When I need an image for relaxation, I see myself in a place of nature that I love being in and it always includes a river or waterfall and lush forest. I am more of a forest woman than the ocean these days. What about you?
Let yourself begin something. You get to change your mind. You get to have days where you don't practice or you don't feel any good feelings from the practice. Life doesn't travel in a straight line.
I keep visuals of words, like happy, hope, world peace, trust, connect, on a post- it or a photo that reminds me of my bigger picture. I love photos and I use them daily to remind me and lift me. They are propped up, not always framed, since I like change. I don't need words when I see my photos of people, places and things that show me a greater connection with something outside of me. It is simple for me...photos from the farmer's market, buildings, people I adore, abstract colors that look like a watercolor painting, animals, garden, places I enjoy, sculptures, flowers, etc.
This is one reason change is challenging. You might have been told that if you do this, that will happen. Someone forgot to tell you, NOT ALWAYS. EXPECTATIONS hold value and falsehoods. As we live more in our full adult, we discover we need to live with paradoxes...this is true and that is also true. There are no guarantees to what you do, or practice. I do think there is a benefit because you are getting to know you better. Did you know your no's lead you to your yeses?
When you know you, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak, you build compassion and then can have that caring and forgiveness for someone else.
BEGIN something that connects you with parts of who you are and aren't. Connection could bring a happier life because it includes acceptance and compassion for what is today.
Meditation builds self-trust. You have you, no matter what.
So here is a toast to all of us practicing!
Take good care and keep in touch by posting, calling or emailing.
Natalie Caine M.A.
Empty Nest Support Services
Life In Transition, What's Next?
(800) 446-3310 or (818) 763-0188
Featured in Time Magazine, USA Today, Huffington Post, Better Homes and Gardens, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Lifetime Radio for Women, Chicago Tribune, Sirius, Associated Press, Miami Herald, and many more.
Change is inevitable. Get Ready. Get Support. Life transitions need a hand to hold.
- Private Telephone Consultations
- Speaking engagements
- Support groups
- Facebook, Linked In, Twitter