Isn’t it brilliant to meditate, away from all the noise, and recuperate? Meditation helps us unplug from the world and plug into our source (where all the goodies are). Some people are born with the ability to do this, anytime/anywhere during the day. For others, like me, it is a lifelong practice that started on the meditation cushion. Now, there are times/places during the day, where switching to meditation mode is a real blessing!
When I was first initiated in Transcendental Meditation, at the age of 19, I was advised to meditate 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. In short, it involved becoming aware of a mantra and relaxing into it. I feel blessed to have been introduced to it so gently. If Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had suggested I’d be mindful every chance I get in the day, I’d have run the other way as fast as I could. I mean, who’d want to do that, right?
What is meditation? My definition keeps on changing or, at least, I think it does! Meditation is emptying. When we meditate we are a hollow, an empty vessel through which the energies of the earth and sky can move unobstructed.
Meditation is allowing. Allowing means, not contracting. When I’m in a non-allowing mode, I tense muscles, nerves, organs and the lot! Allowing is the same principle used in conscious falling: we are advised that if we notice that we’re falling we should ‘relax into it or we may break a bone’. It is the same principle used in singing: ‘relax your muscles if you want to be heard’. Even, the same principle in beauty. When my daughter was cleaning my eyes to do my lashes, she asked me to relax my eyelid which I had contracted not to let the soapy water in. She said: The more you tense the eyelid, the more chance there is for the soap to get in. We contract to avoid a difficult situation, while we’re in the midst of it. This aversion, only looks like an aversion! It is actually doing the reverse. It is making matters worse by entangling us more to the cause of our suffering.
Where do you contract the most during the day? Where and when is it, that you can benefit from emptying and letting the earth and sky nourish you?
These are my top 3 favourite times / places to do just that:
When we’re not mindful, going to the dentist isn’t that much fun, is it? Sitting on a chair, an awkward open mouth, tubes hanging down it and, on top of that, loud sounds! Does it have to be unpleasant? Or, can the same experience turn upside down with the Dentist Meditation? This is how I do it, I:
- sink in the chair more and more with each exhalation
- feel myself from tip of the toes to top my head
- let my entire body flop
- listen to the sound consciously and try to hear all the different tones and notes, in detail
- relax my face, jaw and eyes
- look for the slightest contraction in my body and breathe in and out of it
- feel everything there is to feel
- breathe into pain, allowing it to expand and, dissipate (not with that intention though, that’s just often-times the result)
2. While on the phone to call centre
- have to dial the number in an exhalation, that’s a must! There are just too many memories where things can get entangled and challenging. Exhaling and letting go of all past memories is my first step: This is a new experience which can be insightful, enlivening and very pleasant. Here we go!
- see the other, as a person, no matter how hard they’re trying to get me to see them as a robot.
- make sure my posture is tall and yet grounded.
- make sure my voice comes from my belly and I don’t tighten my shoulders or throat
- notice how and when the conversation leads to me contracting anywhere. Does it have to?
- If the conversation doesn’t go where I want it to, i.e. they totally deny the existence of a problem or ask me to live with it: I invite more softness and space inside as I carry on to explain my side of the argument.
3. Unexpected traffic
It doesn’t matter how early you leave for that important meeting or appointment, you can still turn up late. Even if you have considered and included unexpected traffic in your timing, they can still take longer to clear. What do you do when there is nothing to do but sit? Do you go over all the horrible things that can go wrong if you’re late? Do you start blaming the world? Like; the council, the driver that caused the accident, or yourself for not taking a different route in the first place?! That’s the perfect time to do the Traffic Meditation: I,
- let myself and my car become really heavy, almost settling into the road. It’s my way of accepting where I am.
- exhale with the intention to release body, mind and emotions (letting go of my expectation to be where I am not – isn’t that more sane?)
- notice how I’m holding the wheel, am I grasping, holding it tighter than necessary?
- relax my gaze on the road, the car in front, my surroundings.
- see all the good things that can come out of being late (not always easy, I must say…but I am getting better at it)
There are times, when we are stuck in an unpleasant situation that we can’t get out of. These are truly precious times where, we can let our practice go deeper and work its wonders.