bee happy * bee well * bee positive

Sunday, August 5, 2012

      Sometimes I try to do too much at one time and I feel overwhelmed. Does this happen to you? Mindfulness is the practice of doing only one thing at a time and being aware of what you are doing in this moment because it is the only moment there is. This can be a challenge in today's world because we live, potentially overloaded, with our smart phones, TVs, computers and various other devices beckoning in our every waking moment. By practicing mindfulness we can regain our equilibrium and peace of mind.
      I am old enough to remember when phones had party lines and you were sharing the line with 4 of your neighbors. When you wanted to make a call you lifted the receiver and listened quietly.  If one of them was on the line you hung up and tried again later when the line was open. If you left home to do whatever, the phone stayed put.  Now even tweens, ages 8-11, have phones and we are on call 24/7.  It is rare to allow ourselves the space to focus solely on on thing.
      I am not saying that it is a simple thing to be mindful and focus on just one thing like a mantra or your breath, sometimes the best you can do is accept that your talking heads are out of control or your leg hurts or whatever. You can hang in there or give up for today, it is all part of the practice. Today I could not settle, so I didn't, but I continued to time myself and although I got up and made tea, I went back and sat. Today my meditation was actually about making and drinking tea and it worked. I was able to focus on one thing mindfully.
Yada,Yada, owww!
     Some days mindfulness is not so easy. A couple of weeks ago I was at yoga class and the talking heads were screaming- ow this hurts, I hate this, and other trash talk, even though I wanted to be there and the instructor is very gentle and caring. Desperate and even feeling a bit unkind, I decided to try mantra. I repeated a Tibetan mantra: Om Ah Hum that I like because it is the first 3 letters in the Tibetan alphabet (kind of like reciting 1-2-3). My body instantly softened, my breath slowed and I was able to finish the pose. As the class progressed, the mantra would occasionally slip from my mind, letting the talking heads turn up the volume. As soon as I would notice ( rather quickly because they can be quite deafening) I would go back to the mantra. With the mantra I made it through the class and I was grateful because I know I need yoga in my health arsenal to keep stiffness in check.
Om Ah Hum, Om Ah Hum...better.
       Mindfulness is said to be our natural state, but don't tell your ego that. The part of our mind that the talking heads live in has an agenda all of it's own. It wants no pain, ever and it will tell you in no uncertain terms what it does not like. You see it always wants to be happy, very like a baby. When you sit down to meditate or for that matter do any thing that requires focus the ego tends to be resistant. It wants to chat about about your upcoming vacation or it will remind you that there is laundry that is waiting. It promises that there will be time later to meditate, but it is secretly hoping you'll forget and watch that cooking show instead.
         This is why a time to practice everyday and a small commitment to 5 or 10 or even 20 minutes daily is your true best friend if you want to reap the benefits of meditation.  In the beginning you may not "feel" anything, or you may have very brief glimpses of the stillness that is as refreshing as a cool breeze on a stale hot day.  You may sit with little or a lot of effort, but it is all worthwhile. Acceptance is the key. Whatever happens while you sit is the practice. Sure it is good to follow your breath or your chosen mantra as much as possible, but just sitting  and accepting whatever your experience of that day is...well that is meditation.
          I sit each day when I wake up for 15 to 30 minutes. I time myself and no matter what, even if my feet and ego jump up I go back and finish my sit. The one exception is if I fall asleep, which many people find happening to them as well. Meditation is quiet awareness, sleep is sleep. If I fall asleep I start over when I am more awake, because if you find you are falling asleep regularly with meditation, you may need more sleep. This is especially true for me because of my work schedule. I recently painted a small labyrinth on my patio. I find if I walk it just after waking it improves my meditation without waking up the talking heads. For many years I made tea, then meditated with the cup in my hand to insure I was awake and aware.
        I can tell you that I look forward to the moments of stillness that fill me when I meditate. Total peace of mind is a gift all of us can benefit from. I do not find the stillness every day, but I know it is there. That is what has motivated me to meditate as regularly as I can and as mindfully as I can for all these years. Most importantly I remember that acceptance of whatever this moment provides is all part of the experience, whether it is fidgeting or a talking head marathon. I hope you find mindfulness in your meditation and with time it can be a asset in your daily life as well. You see mindfulness can be used any time you want to quiet your mind and focus on the task at hand. It can make you a more aware driver, help you to really listen to your children, or pass the big math test in college. Being able to quietly focus is a gift, free to those who will take a few moments to cultivate it.

         try this,
                                     brew a cup of tea...just the way you like it
                                     find a comfortable place to sit
                                     feel the warmth of the cup in your hand
                                     smell or taste the tea
                                     appreciate the color of the tea and the cup
                                     close you eyes, allow yourself to rest with the tea in your hand
                                     when you are ready drink the tea
                                     slow or fast
                                     accepting that as you drink there is tea in this moment
                                     it is gone in the next
                                     this is mindful tea drinking

Mindfulness can be applied to any activity. We may not be able to find it when we are multitasking, but even then it is there. Practice makes perfect and remembering to practice, making time to practice will improve the quality of your life. I know because it has improved mine. You may not be able to recognize it right away, but the benefits begin when you do.

          blissings, amber

Next time: Positive Projection, focused intention and meditation

see you soon...

MENDs FYI tidbit:
I bet you thought cruciferous vegetables, you know the ones that are so good for you, only came in broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprout flavors.  Not true these anti-inflammatory superstars include green leafy vegetables like watercress,spinach, arugula and bok choy. Other members of this family include radishes, daikon and regular or napa cabbages. Choose your favorites and toss with tomatoes, some feta cheese, black olives and toasted sunflower seeds for a quick salad. Top with a salad dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, a dab of honey mustard, salt and pepper to taste and you have got a wonderful salad for a treat...say after a yoga work out?  There are cruciferous vegetables in season through out most of the year, so you can eat local and healthy every day. These veggies are great roasted and in stir fry as well.. so next time you see some, give them a try.