For over a decade, I had a love-hate relationship with meditation. Love when I actually did it and hate when I didn’t do it, but beat myself up for not doing so. It is a spiritual practice that my intuition has constantly directed me back to but one, up until this year, that was sporadic in frequency.
As a yoga teacher I gravitate towards the more energetic side of yoga. Meditation plays a key role so I knew- if not for myself than for my students- I’d have to carve out a dedicated formal meditation practice.
And so I have. In February I found this free online 8 week mindfulness course which has been completely responsible for me developing a formal morning meditation, and educating me pretty extensively on mindfulness. In fact I hosted a three hour meditation workshop back in June, and my knowledge garnered from this course was really instrumental.
If you think that meditation is a disposable practice or for the hippy-hearted, think again. Now I’ve created a habitual practice I can see how essential meditation is in anyone’s life. Why?
1) RPM-Rise, Pee, Meditate. Davidji, author of ‘Secrets of Meditation,’ advocates. Before your thinking mind really gets active and builds momentum, meditate and set up a trajectory of stillness for your day. I find starting the day in the Being mode creates a sense of connection to Self and awareness that spills into the day. Also, with RPM, you are demonstrating that selecting who you’re Being is first and foremost, above what you Do. We may know this in theory, but RPM invites us to exemplify this every morning.
2) Following on from this point, Mobile Mindfulness was a phrase I came across when reading ‘Modern Mindfulness’ by Rohan Gunatillake. Essentially, it is informal meditation. A formal meditation practice- which is defined as doing nothing but meditating-ripples out to create mindfulness throughout the day. It produces informal meditation- awareness when you are engaged in doingness. It affects how you interact with the world around you. If you create a dedicated practice you will begin to notice simple things that were lost on you before. For instance, I’ve noticed how much more vivid and alive nature is. I find myself on the beach, sifting grains of sand through my fingers, or gazing at the moon with a new sense of wonder. When I’m doing something like taking a shower or brushing my teeth, I’m better able to stay in that present moment and to feel the water rather than be fretting over the day ahead, lost in thought. Notice how your senses ripen, both on and off the meditation cushion.
3) Neuroplasticity is engaging in certain behaviors over and over again to create a neuro-pathway. It is literally molding your brain into desirable behaviors and habits. When you meditate, you create an intimacy with Self, an awareness with the contents and conditions of your mind. Just being aware of what goes on inside of your skin and paying active wakeful attention to it is a radical act of self love. As you gaze within, giving space for all that arises in your consciousness, you get to select how you interact with Self, the attitude you witness yourself with. Do you use neuroplasticity against you, and spend your meditation practice shining a spotlight on a critical relationship with Self? Or do you create a neuro-pathway of self acceptance, do you cultivate a friendly relationship with Self, compassionate, kind and curious to see what shows up, free from judgement and expectation? Can you see the power of this?! If every morning, for twenty minutes or more, you practiced this level of self care and appreciation, imagine the implications for your life. If you developed such a healthy and fulfilling relationship to yourself, do you think they’d be room for anyone to belittle you? How you treat yourself translates into how others treat you. There’s a warmth, now, in my attitude towards myself which is a beautiful thing to carry around in my heart.
4) Make better choices for yourself Because your sense of awareness increases, both externally with how you perceive the world and also internally with how you get to know yourself, you can’t help but to make more grounded decisions. With awareness you have a clear window into how your choices affect you, whether in relation to relationships, health or whatever it may be. For instance, I notice how energetically ‘muddy’ I feel if I have a conversation with someone and aren’t actively listening to them: That’s new! My formal meditation is also very often polluted with thoughts and emotions of the night before if I’ve watched something violent or sensational. You get a direct feedback mechanism by meditating, and that way you can course-correct your behaviors if need be and move onto more informed choices in the future. I find, through meditation, if I compromise my values, that doesn’t go under the radar anymore. This is important, because there is no growth without awareness. How can you drive blind? To this end, I like to repeat Dr. Barbara De Angelis’s powerful affirmation from her book ‘Soul Shifts’:-
Today I want to see what there is to see, to feel what there is to feel and to know what there is to know
We’ve barely began to tap into the benefits of meditation, but these four have been a remarkable side affect of my new dedicated practice, and are the gifts waiting for you too if you can offer yourself twenty-thirty minutes a day for the most quality time you could ever spend with yourself. I heartily encourage you to click on the Palouse FREE mindfulness course below, it is a wonderful journey into meditation.
Palouse Mindfulness: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction https://palousemindfulness.com/
‘Secrets of Meditation’ Davidji
‘Modern Mindfulness’ Rohan Gunatillake
‘Soul Shifts’ Dr. Barbara DeAngelis