Part 2: Simple techniques for creating a meditation practice of your own

So, how can you go about creating a meditation practice of your own? First, find a time of the day when you can be distraction-free, perhaps that is early in the morning before the family is awake, or in the evening (my personal choice) when all are asleep. Once you choose your time, “unplug” from the world, even if you choose to meditate for just five minutes, create a calming space in which to practice. Create a space that is as distraction-free and clutter-free as possible, and as calming as possible, dim-lighting or natural lighting, incense (if you like), and sacred objects (Jesus, Buddha, vase of flowers, photos of passed loved ones, crystals, and again, only if that feels “right” for you). Next, sit upright, back straight, cross-legged, palms facing up gently resting on the thighs, or you can choose to lay down (only if you won't fall asleep), or sit on a chair, with feet on the ground, back straight, palms facing up gently resting on the thighs. Gently close your eyes and breathe, deep, cleansing breaths, could be in through the nose, out through the nose, or in through the nose, out through the mouth, whatever feels right for you. A few techniques you can try to help you step outside the stream of thoughts and feelings that will distract you from simply sitting in your space are as follows:

~Simply focusing on each in-breath and each out-breath, and when your mind becomes distracted by a thought or feeling, imagine it floating on by, in the sky that is your mind, and gently bring your focus of awareness back to your breath.

~Silently or not so silently repeat a mantra, which can be a phrase or word that brings you a sense of peace and interconnectedness, for example: let go, simply trust, faith, love, peace, let go let God, om, grace, etc. the choices are endless, but choose something that is short and sweet and that brings you a feeling or sensation of calm, peace, or love.

~Pray, talk to God, offer gratitude, prayers for others, prayers for yourself.

~Visualizations: visualize thoughts and feelings as passing weather in the expansive and open sky that is your mind. Be at peace with the clouds, the rainbows, the storms, the tornadoes... Simply observe them passing by... Or put your attention on your heart center and visualize your heart opening like a flower, expanding with love and light. The love and light permeates each cell of your body, expands to loved ones, to the world...

~Body scan: start with the tips of your toes, feeling into whatever sensations or tensions you experience, noticing, sending your breath into those spaces to get the energy moving, consciously relaxing or simply bringing awareness to each part of your body as you move from your toes to the crown of your head.

~Sit in the company of a plant, the ocean, a stream, a tree, or even a rock, observe with your eyes, your touch, your smell, offer gratitude and admiration, contemplate its existence, and then simply sit with it, with awareness. You will be surprised at the wisdom you will receive from this simple interaction.

~Try keeping a journal to jot down thoughts, feelings, images, or sensations you experienced during your meditation practice to help you cultivate the "witness" mind to your experience, in order to help you bring more awareness into your experience throughout your day.

As you become more comfortable dropping into your meditative space (peace, awareness, intuition), and it will take time and practice, you will find that you are able to “meditate” throughout your day while engaging in the normal day-to-day activities. And meditation can be found in any activity in which you “lose yourself” in the joy of what is your doing, ie., art, dancing, swimming, singing, yoga, surfing, knitting, cooking, walking...Your life has the potential to become one continuous and rich spiritual practice!

Part 1: Why Meditate?

There's a lot of hype around meditation these days... So, what's it all about? What's the point? In short the point of meditation is to find your sense of inner-peace, inner-calm, inner-quiet, inner-guidance, your sense of awareness so that you are not taken on the whirlwind of thoughts that you have a mile per minute, and so that you can find your “I”ness amidst all the “noise” around you, ie. the voices of others, demands, and distractions of everyone else and everything else. Meditation helps us step inside our inner-observer of all of the thoughts, feelings, and “life,” so that we can respond to life rather than react, so that we can feel peace rather than stress, feel connected to the greater meaning of life beyond the demands of everyday life that can seem all-consuming. Meditation can help us to feel more present, more mindful in our everyday lives. We create a little bit of time to meditate, and suddenly we feel as if we have more time in the day because our “time” is not being hijacked by every thought, feeling, distraction, or demand that presents itself to us, we can really “be here now.” People meditate for many reasons, many that I have already mentioned, but to mention a few more, people meditate to feel more connected to God, to loved ones that have passed, to create awareness around thoughts, feelings, and “self-talk,” or to quite simply enjoy a greater sense of well-being and joy.Part 2 to come: Simple techniques for starting a meditation practice of your own...

Mystery and divinity in even the most ordinary

I just finished visiting with a friend, and I shared with her how I had spent time yesterday afternoon in meditation while Ava was asleep with the intention of connecting with Mitch. I received confirmation of his presence through chills up and down my body when my concentration was focused on feeling him, and when I felt open to receiving a sign of his presence. She remarked how perhaps he was communicating to me in all kinds of ways that required less effort, and that I only needed to open my eyes to see... That perhaps he was communicating to me through other people, through music, through my own thoughts, through nature, and that I only needed to open my eyes and my heart to feel him in my everyday life during the times when I was not immersed in deep meditation. She even remarked that perhaps he had wanted me to hear the words that she had just shared with me. I couldn't have agreed more. Another lesson in the grieving process of letting go, letting go of my expectation of what communication and connection with someone who has passed away looks like, and being open to the mystery and the divinity that lies in even the most ordinary...