Meditation is not easy for most of us! Why bother? Meditation calms the frantic mind and for sure we are in frantic times. Let's review alternatives to the 'sitting quietly for fifteen minutes with our eyes closed!'
1. Walking and running are considered forms of meditation. The rhythm of our feet hitting the pavement. Swinging our arms is more repetition. Most exercise is repetitive, enjoy thinking about how our beautifully our body works is a way to clear the mind. Take one limb at a time. See how that feels. One joint at a time. This is awareness. This is getting out of our head, which is meditation.
2. Breathing deeply. Learn how to breathe from the diaphragm all the way up to the chest cavity! It's a whole lot different than the shallow chest breathing most of us are accustomed to. Try this when you are watching TV or reading a book. Perhaps when you are driving or working at your desk.
3. I really like this one! Take a minute or two with each of your senses! Hearing: Really listen to everything! The background noise - soft, loud, muffled, the wind, cars driving by, kids playing in the neighborhood, thunder.
Then your vision - your eyes. What do you see? Don't take it as the usual, the expected. Appreciate the detail. How strong trees are. How many different kinds there are. How delicate grass is. How blue is the sky. Are you near water? Can you see the ripples? Can you see the waves come crashing in? Has someone put fresh flowers on the table? Enjoy their beauty and fragility. (Our eyes do most of the work telling us about the world around us.)
What about our nose, our olfactory sense? Fresh air, stale air. Dinner cooking. Who is frying those onions and garlic? What's your wife's favorite perfume? Fresh cut grass. Can you smell when rain is on the way? What about fresh coffee brewing? Cookies to go with the coffee? From sweet to pungent to faintly there to overwhelming.
Taste. Chocolate and Ice Cream. Steak. French Fries and ketchup. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, fresh sweet corn on the cob. What are your favorites? How many don't we know? Millions probably.
Sense of Touch is as fascinating as the others. Hard and Soft. Have you ever made your own pizza dough or pie crust? Prepared fresh fruit for breakfast? Folding the laundry. Soft T-shirts and rough and ready blue jeans. Holding hands. Kissing. Hugging.
We are exposed to so many beautiful and wonderful smells, taste, sounds. We can pick a flower or move a bolder. Hear children laughing and the blare of a fire truck. Sight of course cannot be beat. A new baby. The one you love. Your pets. City lights at night. Quiet miles of pine trees. Take your time appreciating, being aware of each sense, one at a time. Pay attention, be aware and learn when you can add something new!
The fourth way we can meditate - be aware - calm the brain, is to breathe from the diaphram. Your lower belly. Yoga fans know how to do this! Fill your belly up first, move to your diaphragm and then your chest cavity. Count to four or six depending on how deeply you can go. Try this while driving or working at your desk - reading the newspaper or your favorite book. I inhale counting to four - six or eight depending on the day. Then exhale the same number. Do this regularly. Build it into your routine. See if it doesn't calm the chaos upstairs!