Stop The World
When life gets really crazy I’ve been known to say “Stop the world, I want to get off!” But it seems the spin just keeps going. How can we take the time to slow things down and get ourselves “centered” so that we can respond with grace and wisdom rather than reacting to each circumstance?
I’ve been practicing a simple discipline called centering prayer or mindfulness meditation. This is an ancient practice used by the mystics and others perhaps growing out of an ancient challenge to, “Be still and know that I am God.” The goal is to ‘still’ our over active mind and emotions, to step off the spinning merry-go-round for a few minutes a day and simply BE. Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it?
There are many techniques used to help stop the spin. The most common is to sit quietly and comfortably and draw all you attention to your breath, breathing in and out in a slow measured pace. I add a simple ‘breath prayer’ or mantra that fits well with one cycle of breathing. Some advocate using something that does not carry deep meaning because our mind will start thinking about the meaning instead of being still, so “ooommm” is often used. I have chosen “Grace” for my intake breath and “Peace” for my breath out.
On a recent episode of his television show, Dr Phil told a guest that if you are feeling anxious, simply taking a few minutes to measure your breaths equally in and out, will calm anxiety.
From there (as a beginner to this process) I imagine myself sitting in my happy place, a place of peace and quiet. I try to be fully present in my body. Inevitably my mind wonders to the cares of the day so when I notice this, I let those thoughts fly away and return my attention to my breath. When this happens (which it does about every minute for me!) it is not failure but success in catching myself and returning to stillness.
The goal is to eventually be able to sit in stillness with no thoughts, no images, no distractions. How long? Start with 5 minutes. My BHA goal is 20 minutes twice a day. (BHA stands for Big Harry Audacious).
A small piece of technology that has helped me tremendously is an app for meditation. You can program how long you want and it will start with 3 ringing bells, and at the end of the time, gently bring you back with 3 ringing bells. That way I don’t have to keep peeking at the clock to see how much time has passed or be rudely jerked back with an alarm.
The benefits of this discipline are many (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/08/mindfulness-meditation-benefits-health_n_3016045.html). For me it clears out the cobwebs and allows me to know that I am not God and opens space to what God and the Universe is offering me.
Try it and let us know how it goes!
Image by Dedda71 Licensed under Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pagan_meditation2.jpg