How I Meditate Part 3: The Setup
Meditation, like so many other ‘shoulds’ in my life, had to become a seamless part of my daily routine in order for me to do it more than once. I should do it, I feel great when I do, but I’ve found that I will prioritize all sorts of other tasks in front of the ones that are just for me alone.
Let me describe how I’ve made meditation part of my day. Have you meditated before? Have you sat up straight, on a cushion, hands arranged just so, facing a certain direction on the compass? I have, and I’ve felt the power of that position, the ground beneath me, the sky above, the universe all around.
But one I’m up in the morning, once I’m out of bed, well… There’s teeth to brush and breakfast to eat and dishes to wash and email to check and lunch to pack and where’s that bill I got yesterday? So here’s my secret:
I meditate in bed. Before I ever get out from under the blankets!
This works great for me. I love to lay in bed in the morning, and luxuriate in the restful, peaceful quiet before anything crazy happens. Meditating allows me that time and sets up positive energy for the rest of the day- or at least for the morning.
My routine is simple. I lay on my back, propped on a couple pillows. My hands are generally both on my low belly, or one there and one on my heart. (I have a cold digestive system, so a hand on my belly brings heat and a gentle pressure and a sense of awareness and caring to that area.) Sometimes I place my hands on my legs, in a yoga mudra.
When I am following a Meditation Challenge like Finding Your Flow right now, I log into the site, press play, and lay back.
On other mornings, I have an app on my phone called Meditation Helper, which allows me to set chimes at certain intervals. When I press Start, a 20 second timer starts. This gives me time to quickly read a mantra stored in my phone and to get all settled.
A chime sounds to mark the beginning of my 15 minute meditation. After 5 minutes, a second chime sounds. This is a check-in for me, to make sure I’m meditating and not distracted by my thoughts or dozing off. After 10 more minutes, 2 chimes sound to mark the end of my session. The app also sets my phone to airplane mode while the timer is on, so I don’t have to worry about phone calls, texts or other noises interrupting me during that time. This is one of my favorite features!
I have a separate meditation series saved for my Meditation Challenge days, one that has no chimes and doesn't set my phone to Airplane- otherwise the internet is cut off and I can't listen to the meditation!
Another great feature of the Meditation App is that it has a widget that shows how many days in a row I’ve meditated, if I did today, and what my record is. Seeing that every time I turn my phone on prompts me to squeeze in my meditation, even on mornings when I’m running late.
How I Meditate- Part 2
We're a few days into the 21 Day Challenge with Chopra Center Meditation, and it's quite enjoyable!
I've been waking up to mediate in bed, as I described in Part 1. Today, though, the daily email's link gave me an error. No problem, I thought, I still have a browser window open from yesterday's meditation, so I'll get to today's through there.
No dice. Their website must be having problems.
So usually when I'm meditating, I use one of Deepak Chopra's 7 Spiritual Laws of Success. I'll tell you more about that soon, but the 2 second version is that I have one for each day of the week saved as a recurring event on my calender. So every Friday, to take today as an example, I read over The Law of Detachment and what did I see as today's mantra?
My Actions are Blissfully Free From Attachment to Outcome
Well, if that's not a big flashing neon sign from the universe I don't know what is!
I'm here to meditate, I'm awake and everything, but not because of the content I'm getting from the daily guided meditations. If I was "attached to outcome," I'd have experienced frustration, annoyance, maybe anger, maybe some victimization (I try so hard to do this and now I can't even connect to the site! Why does this happen to me?!) And believe it when I tell you, those possible reactions are familiar to me!
Instead, and I credit the meditating I've been doing, I had no reaction whatsoever. There was a "Huh," then a "Well, I'll try this," and then "OK, I'll do this instead," and there was also a little "That's terrible for the people running the site, and others trying to connect."
Having this practice allows me to enjoy small moments and savor small pleasures, instead of flipping out when things don't go as I planned or as I wish. Of course, I'm not perfect (get in line with the others to verify this!) so this blissful detachment doesn't always happen. But when it does, I feel peace and pleasure at being part of a calm experience.
How I Meditate- Part 1
I decided NOT to title this post, "How To Meditate." You can meditate however you want! It's YOUR meditation!
But I understand that this practice is very new to lots of people, so I'll share how I do it, and maybe that'll give you some inspiration.
Traditionally, strictly speaking, you should rise at dawn, sit cross legged on a cushion, and greet the day facing east with your meditation. Light a candle, have tea next to you, feel the sun break over your face.
I think that sounds wonderful. I know my limitations, however, and I know I'm not going to do all that. My rituals have to be less structured so I have less steps to back out on, less reasons to do it "later." How exactly do I talk myself into this every day?
Sleep is very important to me! My first hurdle in meditating was to make it a regular practice, and adding any kind of longish routine to my morning was destined to fail. After trying various times of day and physical arrangements, I made a big decision:
I Can Handle 15 Extra Minutes in the Morning
Here's where your meditation practice already becomes personal to you.
I realized that 15 more minutes of sleep wasn't going to make my day any better, and that losing 15 minutes wouldn't make my day any worse. This is a core belief of mine. When my alarm goes off, that's the thought that enters my mind.
I find that beginning my day with meditation makes for a qualitatively better day. I don't necessarily 'return to the mantra' during my day, but the day is decidedly better for the meditating. I also find that when I try to meditate before bed, my relaxed mind then drifts haphazardly all over the place and I have a lot of trouble falling asleep. So I, personally, recommend meditating first thing in the morning.
Maybe you're the person who gets up at 5am to exercise no matter what, always. Maybe you get up at 5am even if you don't want to. Or maybe you stay up till 5am and are just grabbing a couple hours before your day starts. The point is, there's lots of sleep styles out there, and lots of waking styles. My 15 minute rule may not resonate with you, and you may have to find your own reasons. But do find your reasons, it's so worth it!
Full Moon Habit
This Full Moon habit is an easy pick for me!
Deepak Chopra began a free 21-day meditation challenge today, on Finding Your Flow. I encourage you to try it!
So I'll be posting some hints and tips I've picked up about meditating as we descend into the next New Moon.
And don't forget, there's a lunar eclipse tonight! It begins about 2am EST, and the current weather for Philly calls for showers after 3am, so we might get to see some of it. I'll be setting my alarm to try, anyway!
Here's some info on the eclipse:
From National Geographic
Exercise Wrap Up
Happily, having one of THOSE DAYS doesn't happen too often, and doesn't last too long.
Don't get me wrong, I've been in a funk, and I've been depressed, and I've been flattened by the weight of simply living to the point that the only think keeping me from sinking right into the Earth is the Earth itself holding me up. Those are terrible in their own right, as well.
But having one of those days, that starts off bright and promising but does a wretched and whiplashing about-face, that ends up so grumpy and peevish, especially compared to where you were that morning... well I'm glad that's over.
I've also finished watching my friend's dogs, so my twice- or thrice-daily walks are over too.
Yesterday, my first day back home, was mostly a rest day, but I did move a bookcase and rearrange some things, so there was a little activity.
Today my running buddy and I went out to a sweet breeze and warm sunshine, with bare arms and smiles. It was a lovely spring day, and our run around a local park had Celandine and pink Cherry trees and Forsythia and white Violets and other flowers that I can't name, but admired each time we passed them. Ah spring.
Then I bought a broom and a Reese's Peanut Butter cup because I love 'em, and walked back home to shower and sweep my kitchen. And to take a little nap, as well. Because I love them too.
Day 9: Again, very busy at work and driving, so good dog walks were the best I could do. But it's Spring all of a sudden, and it's lovely!
Day 10: The forecast is for very warm temps today, but this morning it's in the 30's again! Let's call that 'brisk'.
Today became One of Those Days. Not a sick day, but a day to feel like crap. Nothing bad happened today- quite the contrary, it was an unremarkable day, and could have been quite pleasant. It started well enough, a little tired but fine. Why did it end up like this?
I wasn't going to say anything, because blah blah whine whine. But I reconsidered because I thought of the bloggers I follow, and how I like it when they're honest about the not so bright and shiny parts of their world too. So here's me, feeling like crap.
How did my day come to this?
Maybe because I went out to dinner last night, and ate more heavily than I'm used to. This could be stagnant digestion.
Maybe because I decided to make a pineapple orange spinach smoothie this morning and have a light food day, allowing my body to clean itself up a little. This could be extra toxins.
Maybe it's my Upper Limit Problem. My teacher Maia suggested a while ago I read The Big Leap, a book about why we self-sabotage just when things are going good, and I finally got a hold of a copy. Things are going good right now, especially with my pilates studio which is usually a source of at least moderate anxiety for me. So maybe I have to look at where this feeling of blah is coming from- it could be me.
Maybe I really am just run down. I've been working more than usual the last 3 or 4 weeks, and have had more projects to finish during that time.
Whyever this is how I'm spending my night, it's comforting to know that I don't usually feel like this, and I won't forever, either. I also feel a little guilt and self-disgust for wasting a perfectly good day!
I tell my pilates clients that they have to have bad days to appreciate the good ones. All the same, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Exercise- Day 8 and 9
I really am grateful for this side gig of mine sometimes, this dog sitting. We've had a wild swing of weather in the few days I've been here- wet, sunny, cold, warm. I know I wouldn't have experienced it like I have if I wasn't walkin' the pups every day. Last night was cold, and then this morning- it was 10 degrees warmer than when I went to bed!
I know I don't spend as much time outside as I'd like, and I try to make up for it with windows, but really being outside is just different. The neighbor's forsythia is blooming, and I probably wouldn't have noticed if the dogs hadn't become inordinately interested in their own front step today. Somebody around the corner has the most beautiful, deeply yellow crocus patch. Hyacinth is appearing. Spring is finally starting to unfold, and I absolutely would be missing all this. My own little patch of garden is still to cold to do anything but shiver at me.
Exercise-wise, it's still daily walks. Work has me busy, and so does driving to and from puppy pee breaks. However, my hips continue to loosen which is WONDERFUL! My running buddy and I had a yoga class planned for later in the week that got canceled, so I'll have to come up with something else. That's my day off, so there will be some time.
But ahhh, Spring is finally beginning!
Exercise- Day 7
I'm dogsitting for a friend, so today had 3 walks. I took 'em both out this morning, and got home just as the sun was lighting up the porch. It sounds romantic, but it was about 35 degrees!
This evening, after playing toss with the purple foam ring in the backyard, they went for separate walks because they like to go in different directions, and have MUCH more spunk as the day goes on.
It was really a lovely evening. They live in Philadelphia, which is several weeks if not a month ahead of where I live only about 20 mins away. It's amazing how much of a microclimate the city can be. After both walks I sat on their deep front porch and savored the air. It's warm, but as I cooled down I felt the damp chill that is spring underneath the warm. The traffic is nonstop, people are forever calling and yelling to each other, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I don't live in the city full time. It's not for me.
And on a related note, here's what it looks like when I try to take a picture of the season's first daffodils while on a dog walk!
Exercise- Day 5 and 6
This morning I did about 5 minutes of yoga, and some mat pilates with my clients, including my favorite hip work. Those hips are finally starting to feel better! They've been really tight and sometimes painful.
And I went to bed really early! Feels soooo good to do that when I get the rare chance.
No running today, because my buddy and I took a kickboxing class!
This was my second, and I did much better this time. It was a lot more fun too! And now I'm sore, but in my legs and shoulders like I'm supposed to and not my neck like before.
I did quite a bit of hauling of heavy bags this afternoon, and whew! I felt it. Fortunately I had a delightful, deep bathtub waiting for me tonight.
Exercise- Day 3 and 4
We both woke up with all the best intentions of meeting at 7 and jogging in the beautiful warm morning, and we both canceled from tummy trouble. Ah well.
I did a 20 minute yoga program based on Warrior poses in the afternoon, including one-legged Warrior 3! I also spent several hours cleaning my place, so I'm counting that!! I also still felt like I was recovering from the day before with Dory; it must have been more draining than I realized.
There's a side benefit I'm noticing- I'm motivated to eat better, and regularly. So this week feels good so far!
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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