One of the often-forgotten but oh-so-critical elements to healthy living is a quiet and peaceful mind. Clear thinking, reduced stress, and better sleep are just some of the many benefits attributed to such a state.
Personally, this is one of my biggest health challenges.
When I think of a quiet mind, I conjure an image of zenned out bliss… and in most moments of my day, the utter busy-ness of my brain keeps me far away from anything close to this. My overactive mind can propel me out of the deepest sleep, distract me from even the most compelling conversation, and have a significantly negative impact on my quality of life.
I’m not a big New Years resolution kind of gal, but this year I made a commitment to incorporating the one thing that I felt would impact me in every aspect of my life: meditation.
Being me, and never doing anything lightly (ever the perfectionist – see my last post “Lessons from a two-legged dog” for some reflections on that little beast), I launched in with a commitment to sit still and calm my mind for 10 minutes every morning. I promised myself I would do this EVERY DAY of 2009.
January 1 didn’t start off so well. A little too ambitious with the festivities the night before. Enough said.
January 2: well… I’m still at a dance convention and where am I going to find somewhere to be still and quiet by myself for 10 whole minutes?
January 3: still at the dance convention… still making excuses.
January 4th I am back home and force myself to sit, this time for 40 minutes (to make up for the last three days you see) and I get about 20 minutes into it when the phone rings, I answer it, and that’s that.
I think since January 1st (yes, I am well aware that it’s April 30th) I have sat quietly and meditated for a grand total of 2hrs. That’s roughly 2 minutes a day. Not bad, but nowhere near the 10 minutes /day I originally committed to. And probably 1.5 of those hours were “make up” sessions where I was on an airplane and thought I’d take advantage of the enforced sitting-still time to cram a bunch of 10 minute meditations in at once.
Now, I’m not knocking my efforts here. Those were 2 hrs of quiet time that I wouldn’t have afforded myself had I not made this explicit commitment. But I did realize that this 10 minutes/day commitment isn’t working for me and I need some amendments.
Which is how I came up with what I like to call “Meditative Moments.” If you remember the lesson of the two-legged dog and that working with what you’ve got is much more productive than waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to appear, you’ll have already guessed what I’m talking about. Meditative Moments are those moments throughout the day – and there are many of them if you start paying attention -where you have the opportunity to sit still, to take a deep breath or two or even three, and calm your mind.
These are the moments at a traffic light where you turn off the music, put down your phone and just take in the moment of stillness before zooming off again. They’re the moments when you sit down to a meal without (gasp!) the TV on, a book, email, facebook, your phone, the radio, or any other distraction, and just enjoy the meal. They’re the extra few moments you take at the end of a hot shower, just breathing in the steam, letting the water fall over your shoulders and feeling your body relax.
These meditative moments have become my new obsession. I look for them everywhere. And, as a result, I find them everywhere.
Are they as effective as sitting in total silence and stillness for 10 minutes every morning? I’m not sure. If I get to a place where I can build that into my life, I’ll let you know. But in the meantime, finding and really milking these moments has been a wonderful way of keeping myself calm, grounded and even peaceful on even the busiest of days.
Try it! And let me know where you’ve found your unexpected meditative moments.
What’s one practice that most successful people share in common? Meditation.