Have you ever noticed you can be in many places all at once?
For example, I can wash my dishes and be thinking about the next thing my kids have to do. When I began to practice meditation, I noticed how absent I really was...because I was always thinking about the next thing or what bothered me from the day before. It’s completely “normal” when things happen, but I began to notice I wasn’t really there in the present moment. My mind was dragging me away as if I was a time traveler.
I started to wonder: how on earth can I ever be more settled in the moment and show up for my life in a more complete way?
When people walk by, I want to be there for that. When my kids walk in the room, I want to really hear them. These are just a few of the little wishes I had for my life, and as time goes quickly by, I just wanted to make some real change.
I wanted to be a more present person in my life instead of being the “time traveler,” my body here, but my head somewhere else.
Meditation really helped me “see through the veils” of confusion and — not to get too “Buddhist-y” on you — see the places I was getting stuck. These veils, or the lens through which we see the world, are shaped by many things: our family of origin, experiences, things we were told as a child.
As I went deeper in practice and became curious about Buddhism and the way out of suffering, I experienced first-hand the changes of my views and inner world. I felt myself become more present and developed a lot more gratitude for the way things unfold.
I still have a huge appreciation for Vedic traditions of meditation, chanting, and mantras. However, the simplicity of mindfulness of the breath helped peel back the layers of my entire being. I began to study with a meditation teacher and removed the “bells and whistles” of meditation practice and truly learned how to sit with myself and to simply notice my breath.
At first, the 30 minutes of being with my thoughts, struggles, happiness, sadness, and all happening inside was definitely not easy. However, as I sat each day, I sensed this opening unfold and developed more understanding of all the good (and bad) parts that made up my inner world. I don’t think I am a fully enlightened being, but in the stillness, I felt and experienced my calm, ease, and inner light of happiness return, not dependent on anything outside. I also sensed my own basic dignity and worthiness no matter what. I am unconditionally my own best friend.
I truly began to “get” what the buzzword "mindfulness" is all about.
Now I will not try to “sell” you on anything that doesn’t resonate with you. Any practice of any kind that connects you to a state of wellness is all good. A practice of meditation truly helps us see the stories we tell ourselves all day. You know those old stories, childhood programs still running, or our inner critic, playing on repeat.
It takes practice, like meditation, to drop the stories and rest in reality as it is, with a sense of openness to what IS actually happening vs. our habitual reactions, judgments, and likes or dislikes.
Through practice, we make contact with our direct experience and develop the ability to begin to unravel those old “programs” or stories through noticing thoughts, and through a process of inquiry by asking ourselves, is this actually still true for me?
I invite you to experiment with an “old as dirt” practice called Shamatha, or calm-abiding meditation. Just find a seat on a chair or cushion and sit tall, strong spine and soft front. Begin to place your awareness on the breath. Take a deep breath into your nose and out of your nose. Try this with eyes open or closed for a few cycles of breath.
What comes up for you when you stop time traveling and rest fully in the present? What insight bubbles up to inform your life off of the cushion?
HINT: the answer is only in the present NOW.
Would you like to try this practice with me, free of charge? Here are three great ways to join in so we can support each other in our practice:
Join me on Instagram for our upcoming challenge: 10 Minutes for 10 Days. Beginning Sunday, October 4, meet me via IG Live for 10 minutes at either 7AM or 7PM (or both!). All you need to do to join is follow @cwbodyandsoul on Instagram. Be sure to DM us if you'd like daily reminders throughout the challenge!
For the balance of 2020, our weekly sits (taking place virtually every Monday and Wednesday at 9AM) are free of charge for all to join. Just click here to sign up; you'll receive a zoom link for each session to join me and others as we begin our day with mindful breathing and meditation.
Don't forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter if you haven't already! We always include one free meditation, along with other great tips and updates for you.