Musings covered in this blog:
Mindfulness practices if you are too busy for a formal practice.
Tips on strengthening your commitment to training your mind.
What to do when you feel meditation isn't for you because your mind is too busy.
Why we want to stop thinking about how to solve our challenges.
If you knew there was a way to feel more balanced, integrated would it be something you began to prioritize? What if you knew there was a way to avoid feeling run down by stress, less reactive to the changing winds of time or a pesky relative, and instead,
help you feel more resilient? Would that tool move higher on your list of priorities?
Meditation is a powerful and empowering practice, and the more complicated our lives become, the more essential it is to amp up our efforts in getting to a meditation cushion, chair, or sofa.
I am fully aware of how out of reach that can feel. I just visited my sister which has a 6 year old going to school virtually because of the pandemic and she also has a very active 1.5 year old. I saw how she barely had a moment to herself and how routines got very easily interrupted by the demands life has on us.
That being said, it is still possible to thread the essence of a meditation practice throughout your day. Try to do any of the below activities while asking yourself to compassionately let go of any analytical thoughts of planning or thinking of the past or future.
Take 10 deep rhythmic breaths the moment you wake up in order to start off your day by activating a sense of calm.
Practice embodied gratitude while brushing your teeth. Allowing yourself to open up to the felt sensations in your body from recalling memories that create a sense of inner peace.
Mindfully drink a large glass of water being fully present in the experience of nourishing your body.
Wash dishes mindfully letting go of planning and thinking. Instead, focus on how rewarding it feels to make something fresh and clean again.
Have a cup of coffee or tea without looking at a screen or having a conversation. Just letting yourself enjoy every sip. Give yourself permission to release any thoughts that arise and come back to the delight in your cup.
Go outside for 2 minutes and feel the grass beneath your feet, enjoy the lines and shapes on flower petals, or let yourself rest your attention on cloud gazing.
End your day by recalling whatever small moments of joy you had that day, whether it’s having noticed how wonderful the refreshing glass of water or tea was, or the way your child smiled at you. And then let yourself recall a moment in your life you are proud of. Open up to the felt sensations of the memory.
By incorporating at least one or two of these activities every single day and pausing for a moment to acknowledge that you made the effort and practiced mindfulness of the present moment, you start the journey of decreasing your reactivity, increasing your ability to let go of over-rumination, regulate your attention, and have a more lighthearted/integrated sense of self.
Although studies have shown that we see more significant results after at least 8 minutes of mindfulness meditation a day for 2 weeks, we have to start somewhere! It's okay that your meditation practice does not look like that of yogis in the Himalayas! You are a busy human living through a global pandemic, trying to get your bearings after all of the changes the pandemic brought with it. We have to start somewhere and it's best not to avoid it because your practice doesn't look like a "typical" practice. Your emotional well-being is worth it!!
Why are you letting go of the thoughts of planning or thinking of the past when you have a really important decision to make? As important as some decisions are, overthinking about our challenges will not magically create a solution. It might actually perpetuate the discomfort because we can only see the challenge. The moment we zoom out and detach from the challenge, or the story you are playing in your head about the challenge, and create a felt sense of calm, you begin to see things more clearly. You end up with more space for insight. Moments of insight are associated with slower brain waves and a sure way of creating slower brain waves is mindfulness of present moment.
For others, the challenge might not be time, and instead feel their overactive mind gets in the way. I was among the large number of people that hesitated to prioritize practicing meditation because I could NOT sit still. I could not feel present moment awareness and I could not let go of the story line in my head. Because meditation was such a challenging experience for me, I feel more driven to share the practice and its benefits with anyone wanting to cultivate a sense of calm among the chaos. If I was able to cultivate a practice, anyone can do it!
The great news - the practice of meditation is a PRACTICE. And we are practicing compassionately letting go of anything distracting us from the present moment. The breath or body scanning are generally used as an anchor to the present moment, but it is crucial to understand that a beginner's mind WILL be distracted. And that is more than okay! Even if only 30 seconds of your 5 minute sit or mindful activity were spent in the present, you have started the process of rewiring your brain! You began to watch your thought patterns and narrative and noticed how some thoughts catch more momentum and how we don’t have to continue adding momentum to all of our thoughts. You start to notice how you are not your thoughts! And you regain some energy by directing your awareness internally after spending most of our day having our attention being pulled in multiple directions, especially you parents and executives/managers of companies!
So what is the trick to committing to a practice? There’s the rub! YOU have to be fed up with seeing the same stories, worry, anger, and fear, replay themselves in your head. YOU have to feel it at your core that you no longer wish to have life knock you around. Once you truly feel it in your bones, your path to the cushion becomes more accessible.
I don’t know about you, but I was fed up with replaying my fear and worry narrative. Self-doubt and sadness were thoughts and emotions I no longer wanted to feel trapped by. Not to be confused by thinking these are emotions we never want to feel, but instead we CHOOSE not to let it keep its noose around our neck.
If you are interested in having more agency over your emotional well-being and feeling more responsive/less reactive and aren't sure where to begin, which practice is best for you, don't hesitate to reach out! You can always start with one of my short practices on you tube that you can find here. Whatever you do, don't give up on your ability to train your brain and "stretch your mind."
Find me on IG @franciprana and let me know if there is any way I can support your meditation journey!