The following piece is an excerpt from my book, “Word, From Your Mother,” a daily guidance journal written for my children, Liv and Pierce-Gabriel.
I was thinking about the various ways that you can incorporate quick meditations throughout the day. Most people believe that meditation requires breathing a certain way or sitting a certain way. There is a lot of “do this, don’t do that,” out there. What I’m learning to discern is what works for me at a given time. You certainly don’t have to take on the Buddhist monk way by devoting hours a day to your meditation practice. I like to think of the forms of meditation I’ve been incorporating into my day as “minute to win it,” methods. I must admit that I’ve learned these different methods from various teachers or authors. I wanted to list and explain how to do my favorites. I will give due credit to those who suggested them.
First, Dr. Sue Morter, writer of the Energy Codes: the 7-Step System to Awaken the Spirit, came up with the seated fern frond breath meditation. You can do this one while you’re on the toilet. While seated, imagine that you’re a curled-up fiddlehead. Drop your head and arms down to the floor so that you look folded in half. Slowly raise while inhaling. Once you are back to an upright, seated position, tilt your head up to the sky and exhale. Now, inhale and the top and exhale on the way down. It does take practice to get the breathing, correct. The slower you breathe on the inhale, the better. I do this at least three times. Typically, I do this when I’m at work or feeling stressed. Of course, I don’t do this in front of colleagues at my desk but rather, dash to the bathroom, pee, and then do it.
Another quick and effective technique I learned in Dana James’s book, The Archetypal Diet. She describes the Sufi grinds. I do this meditative exercise just before I go to bed. Sit cross-legged, close your eyes, and place your hands on your knees. Start to move your body in large circles rotating from the hips. Inhale while you circle forward and exhale as you circle towards the back. I like to do this for a minute switching the crossed leg in front and giving each the right and left hip equal relaxation.
The third exercise I’ve modified to accommodate my busy schedule. You will need at least five minutes to do this one. I’ve adapted it from Leslie Davenport’s book, Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery. This exercise is a meditative practice to help you through a crisis. It doesn’t have to be a major crisis; it can just be a day-to-day issue that arises and causes you duress. Again, I’ve modified this practice to suit my individual needs, so it’s not verbatim from the book. Instead of blowing off feelings you may be experiencing, you recognize them and heal them. For example, say you’re trying to pinpoint something that is bothering you. Try to put it in a couple of sentences: “I feel I’m not productive in my classes. I can’t seem to focus. I’m feeling pretty agitated.” Try to scale this statement down to one word that describes your feelings. For example: “Concentration.” Let this be your focus on the meditation. Now, in a seated or lay down position, close your eyes. Imagine that you are in one of your favorite places that bring you peace. (Mine is Hawk’s Nest Beach—a place where I spent my childhood summers). Breathe into your awareness of all of the sensory aspects of this favorite place. I feel the sand on my toes, feel the warm sea breeze, smell the low tide, sense the sun on my face, hear the ebb and flow of the wave. In other words, build an image of your safe-haven. Then, receive the focus word message as it’s delivered to you by someone or something. Perhaps a slip of paper falls from the sky, revealing your focus word. Now, ask your heart, “Why can’t I concentrate? What am I missing?” Here’s the tricky part. You need to remain still, long enough, and relaxed enough to receive the answer from your heart. In my experience, the answers come in the form of words, images, flashbacks, and memories. Often, they seem disjointed but don’t dismiss anything, even if it seems strange.
I recently went into my heart space to discover some much need cathartic work I needed to do to lift some heaviness from my spirit. It involved a painful childhood memory. I stuck with it, even though it hurt. The images I received: sleeping on the couch in my childhood apartment, a broken glass bowl, a hot curling iron, and me as my 14-year-old self, crying. I was able to translate this memory in my life as feeling “exhausted, broken, burnt out, and neglected.” Then, I asked my heart: “How do I heal this pain?” I received a direct message through images: pink crystal rosary beads, and a visualization of my parents caring for my grandparents. The word FORGIVE resonated within me. To forgive my parents, who couldn’t “see” what was going on because they cared for other family members at the time of my pain. To forgive myself so that I may heal the pain, and to pray, always. This would be the healing key of these memories and putting them to rest.
One of my favorite meditations is one that I made up myself. It’s called the roadside nap. It always starts with three cleansing and relaxing breaths parked in my car, in a favorite parking lot of choice. Typically, I do this meditation when I’m tired after work and need to rest my eyes before going to the gym. I know it’s been said that you shouldn’t fall asleep during meditation, however, on a recent trip to Spain, I found a bedside notecard given by the hotel. It said, “Sleep is the best meditation…Dahli Llama.” Ha! If the Dahli Llama says it’s okay to sleep as a form of meditation, I’m all for it. Truthfully, I find that I start with a guided imagery meditation, but then, I fall asleep. I do feel refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of my day when I allow myself to relax and do no-thing. Give these meditations a try. It’s worth it!