Snow falls in thick wet flakes, swirling among the air currents, falling at once fast and slow. The kind of snowfall that can make you dizzy if you look too closely. I sit, watching this drama unfold, tea steaming next to me as I absorb my quiet day. This week I am working to live a calm and slow life. A life we are entitled to, yet so rarely actualize.
Like most of you, my days are booked beyond capacity with obligations for children, work, partners, charities and more. The hours slide past in a blur until I collapse into bed only to rise in a few short hours and hit repeat. However, it is OK to live a calm life. I know this to be true. I know in my heart that calm is healthy for mind & body. And so this year, 2015, while others commit in their own way to a healthier lifestyle, I have committed myself to a slower, calmer life.
I do not intend to create an all-out transformation of my life, indeed I feel that effort would fail. Rather I encourage you to consider the possibilities in your life for creating small moments of stillness and calm; segments that are manageable and doable in your real routine. My goal is to have a 30 minutes of true calm and quiet once a week where I intend to sit in as much stillness as possible. That may be watching the snowfall while I drink an entire cup of tea, or not, the activity is irrelevant so long as it is quiet & calm (and not working quietly at my desk). Daily I have implemented a 5 minute rule. For 5 minutes each day, be it in the morning or evening, I will sit quietly and be still. I will not rush about, talk, text, update, give directions or corrections. I will try to not think. Rather I hope to take these simple moments to recharge my mind, slow my breathing, and settle myself back to center.
This sound a lot like meditating to the perceptive out there. Indeed I hope to use this time to create a meditation practice. Meditation as a real practice in my life has for years eluded me. Despite knowing that meditation, for even 5 minutes a day, has been proven to decrease blood pressure, increase mental acuity, improve memory and focus. It calms the body and restores the mind. Meditation does not need to be a long drawn out affair that strikes fear of time wasting into the hearts of corporate moguls. Rather, meditation can happen in your car (while parked), in your fave chair, at your desk, in your bed or on your yoga mat. Sure, a dedicated space is great, but this real life folks and real life means real solutions that you can implement into your daily routine. Be honest about what Can work for you and start there. I have 5 minutes, that will likely find me sitting in my home-office, on my floor, at the end of my day hoping my kids read the “I am meditating sign” I left dangling on the door. I may or may not get all 5 minutes. I accept this in advance and hope to train my family, much like I am training my mind.
Now that you are convinced that you can find the time, how do you make meditation happen? Simple: 1. Sit comfortably wherever you are. If you can’t sit on the floor easily, a chair is great.
2. Close your eyes. We are creating space for your tired mind. Don’t look at distractions.
3. Take a deep breath in. Deep Breath Out. Deep Breath In. Deep Breath Out. The breath is going to help us stay focused. Focus on that breath filling your body with strength and nourishment on the inhale, and releasing all that you don’t need on the exhale – Carbon dioxide, stressful work situations, sadness, anger, all of it – it flows out with the breath. Let it all go, you don’t need it anymore.
4. Focus back on your breath. Why? Because being still a skill that we have to teach ourselves. Stillness is no longer our strength, so your mind will probably try to wander back to work or that irritating shopper at the grocery store. No biggie. Simply acknowledge that truth, let that thought go, and focus again on your breath.
Some schools of thought use mantras or exercises to help with this breath focus. Are you a tactile or touch person? You can focus on feeling the actual air enter and exit your nostril. This is a delicate feeling which takes focus to notice.
If you are a words person, SoHam is a great mantra . Think So-on the inhale and Ham (hum) on the exhale. So Hum is an ancient Sanskrit term which means simply, I Am.
As your practice of 5 minutes o’ stillness becomes more routine being still will become easier. Your mind will quiet faster, and you will how much clearer you can think in those other 23 hours and 55 minutes of your day.
Try it. Share your progress and I will share mine – It is OK to live a calm life.