GOOD MORNING MONDAY –
AFFIRMATIVE THOUGHTS FOR A GREAT WEEK
Good Morning – it is Monday again 😊 I hope you had a great weekend relaxing and recharging to prep you for an amazing week.
The last two weeks we focused on two Mindfulness concepts; 1) the practice of being present in the moment, experiencing the Here and Now and building a habit of awareness and wakefulness in our lives; and 2) paying attention to our Breath and Breathing. Remember, our breath gives us so many clues about our current mind state. The more aware we become of our breath and practicing breathing more deeply, we bring our minds home to our body.
Practicing these mindfulness concepts should provide more appreciation for the richness of the present moment. Being more intentional in our daily living, slowing down, and altering our habitual responses allows us time to choose our reactions. I hope you are reaping the many rewards that this practice brings.
This week, to continue building your mindfulness practice, I suggest adding a third concept which provides a very solid foundation for mindfulness in your life; beginning your practice of meditation. You might be thinking “Okay Julie, now you have gone too far! I was fine with present moment and breath, but meditation – NO WAY!! I definitely DO NOT have the time in my day, nor in my life, to sit around for an hour in silent contemplation!!!” My response to you would be, “I get it; but can you spare 3 or 5 minutes a day to begin a meditation practice in your life?”
Meditation is simply a way to train our minds to pay attention. It is about seeing things more clearly. It is about being more deeply aware of what is going on in and around you. It helps you to be discerning about your feelings, emotions. It teaches you to open your attention to all of parts of yourself, focusing on your experiences and responses as they arise without judging them.
Starting a formal practice by making some time for meditation each day will get you more in tune with what you are doing because you stopped for a bit, watched, listened or understood what was going on in and around you. If you really grasp the reality of your life while you have it to live, you truly do wake up to the moments. Henry David Thoreau said, “Only that day dawns to which we are truly awake.”
Before we talk about how to get started, let’s dispel some myths about meditation. Meditation is not a religion; it does not require special skills; it does not demand a large chunk of time each day and it is not an attempt to have you stop thinking, nor does it insist that you think only positive thoughts.
Meditation does require you to set aside some time each day to practice, but it does not have to be large portions of time. It does take some discipline, energy and a commitment to stick with it. You may decide to set aside only a few minutes each day in the beginning, but even that amount of time will allow you to begin to reap rewards such as decreased stress, increased calmness and clarity, improved concentration, increased self-awareness and acceptance of self and increased happiness, just to name a few. Who does not want those things for themselves?
So, now you are thinking, “Okay Julie, enough already, give me some ideas to get started. How do I “dip my toe” into the pool of meditation?” My recommendation is to start simply by setting aside a few minutes each day. If you miss one day, pick it up the next day. Be kind to yourself; remember, you are building a new muscle, the muscle of mindfulness.
Following are some types of meditation that might intrigue you. Try one or two of them to get your practice started:
Shower Meditation: Every time you take a shower be there for it. Concentrate on the feel of the water on your skin. Envision the power of the water washing away any negative thoughts, feelings of regret, sadness, anger. Visualize them washing right down the drain. Feel lightness in your body. Enjoy the clarity of your mind. Your soul is free of all that does not serve your highest good. You are ready for a new beginning.
Hand Meditation: Be present. Place your hands on a piece of paper side by side or on another object. Close your eyes and feel the sensation of your skin on the paper or the object on which you’ve placed your hands; observe the rhythm of your pulse; tingling of your fingertips. Next, trace each hand (as though you are drawing) – observe the sensations as you did before. Are they different? Notice your breath as you do this exercise. Record observations when the meditation is complete.
Ice Cube Meditation: Be present. Hold an ice cube in your hand for as long as it takes for it to melt. Let the water just drip onto your lap, the table, into a bowl, etc. Observe the sensations, uncomfortable feelings, urges, thoughts, emotions you have as they arise. Record observations when the meditation is complete.
Standing Meditation: Be present. Stand still, staying put with feet firmly planted and pay attention to your breathing. You can have eyes open or closed. You can have arms by side or bent at elbow, palms to sky. Use your breath to help you stay in the present moment. Feel your body standing, breathing moment by moment. When you feel like you are done; try to stay in meditation a little longer. Work with being in touch with the air on your skin, the feel of your feet contacting the floor/ground and the sounds of the world and the sense of light around you.
Walking Meditation: Bring awareness to walking, wherever you find yourself. First, slow down a bit and center yourself in your body and in the present moment. Next, attend to the walking itself. Feel the roll of your feet on the ground. Try to distinguish when heel touches, when foot is flat on ground and when your toe points back upward. Notice any sensations you have. You can practice at any pace. The practice is to take each step as it comes and be fully present with it. You can practice informal walking meditation anywhere.
If during any of these meditations above, your mind wanders, return it back to your focus. This trains your mind to notice when it drifts, bringing it back to the present moment. This is great for stress and anxiety relief.
If none of the ideas above work for you, you can get more ideas by doing a google search or at the app store. One app that I recommend is called, “10% Happier” – this app contains short, easy meditation practices that can help you get started.
As you begin to strengthen a meditation practice, your thoughts will lose power over you. The goal of meditation is not to control your thoughts, it is to stop them from controlling you.
Good Luck 😊
Wishing you deeper levels of happiness, joy and self- awareness as you continue to cultivate the practice of mindfulness in your life.
“Through mindfulness you will find that you have even more reasons to be happy than you thought” (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Have a GREAT week!