Find Your Centre Anytime
It is a hot August in Toronto. Usually, the first weekend of this month brings a cool breeze that tells me the lush heat of July will soon fade. It is now the third week of August and that cool breeze has not yet shown up. The heat baking Toronto feels unnatural, a feverish symptom of our changing climate.
While many may be watching the exceptional athletic achievements at the Olympic Games in Rio, we may be distracted from tragic increases in heatstroke deaths all over the world, and devastating flooding in Louisiana that has now been called the worst natural disaster in the US since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. I pray for all affected by these calamities. May all be well and at peace. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.
As I have said before, the climate crisis is a wake-up call for us all to reconnect. The agitation in nature is a reflection of our internal agitation which in turn causes us to make choices that further agitate nature. So this week, I would like to explore how to stay centered when faced with a busy life. As each of us finds our own sense of rooted, vital expansion, we contribute to a greater sense of ease for ourselves and for the planet.
We all have our ways to find our centre, our place of personal balance. Some like exercise, others prefer quiet time, while others love to get out in nature and go for a good long walk. Whatever works for you, go for it. Life is short and there is only one you through all time and space. So be the best you that you can be!
My “way in” is my spiritual practice, in particular, my meditation practice. Meditation may conjure images of sitting still and quieting the mind. Though my morning sitting meditation is the foundation and heart of my meditation practice, meditation can be practiced at any time, anywhere, because meditation is about being in non-resistance to what is. The quiet time I spend in sitting meditation is like priming my consciousness pump so that I may live my day feeling connected to a much greater whole.
Meditation is a discipline, a way to get out of the way and assist in the redirection of our negative tendencies towards a much greater whole. Our general, unawakened tendency is to see life through the lens of our ego, which wants to separate, categorize, divide and fight or flee. There is nothing wrong with that, per se, except that when we live our lives driven by our ego’s whims, we inevitably suffer and cause suffering.
TAP IN, THEN TUNE IN
If we are to see a sitting meditation practice as a way to tap into universal consciousness , then it is best to do so when the atmosphere is the most still and unencumbered. That way, we are more deeply replenished to face the busier times in our day.
The ideal time to do so is between 4am and 6am. While few of us get up at 4am, it is best to practice meditation when you first wake up, ideally around 5am, when the mind is quiet and fresh from sleep. With an early morning you give yourself a head start into practicing stillness and opening to possibility for the day.
If you were to meditate say at 9am, or even later in the day such as at 2pm, you might notice that the atmosphere is more agitated, filled with the business of the active, moving day. Since you are not separate from the whole, your mind too will be more agitated at that time.
Of course, any time is a good time to practice meditation! The time of day should never be used as an excuse not to practice. But you will likely find it easier to go more deeply into meditation early in the morning. Daily practice at optimal times builds the necessary inward momentum to remain tapped into the consciousness flow throughout the day, every day.
Once you develop a daily meditation rhythm that helps you feel rooted, vital expansion, you may find yourself drawn to experience the stillness you find in meditation throughout the day. This takes practice. One simple way to stay connected like this is through mindful breathing.
In the rush of life, we can find it easy to forget to breathe. It is amazing how much we tend to hold our breath. When relaxed, our breath flows effortlessly in and out, like the ebb and flow of ocean waves. A relaxed breath helps our whole body relax. And when we are relaxed, we enjoy more and experience life more fully. Meditation opens our field of awareness, helping us receive and skillfully act upon life’s many opportunities.
At any given time today, tune into your breath and see how it is flowing. If you find yourself holding, take a few deep breaths. If you find yourself breathing comfortably, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the flow of air. Life is amazing, and breathing is a big part of why we are alive!
Do your best to not get seduced into thinking you don’t have time to take a moment’s pause to breathe, or the time to meditate. Such is the voice of the ego that wishes to keep you small, disconnected and in pain. Like a gerbil running on a wheel, the ego will keep you feeling you must rush forward to succeed, all the while making no real headway. I literally find that the more I meditate, the more time I have. I am more alive, more connected, brighter and more awake to the many riches each moment brings.
UNDERSTAND YOUR TENSION
Whether we recognize it or not, we are all sensitive, organic creatures living in a fast-paced, agitated world. We can easily feel broadsided by noises and accosted by the speed by which our society moves.
I recently realized that the tension in my head, neck and shoulders increases when I drive. I love driving and never realized it actually stresses me out a bit – until one day, when I was a passenger with an excellent driver. In the quiet of my seat, I noticed that I was getting tense. I had just come from an osteopathic session that left me feeling particularly present and open. I saw how the speed of the drive felt overwhelming for me at that time. I noticed how my visual focus was slightly blurred and the muscles around my eyes and jaw were becoming tense.
When I tuned in, I found that I wanted the car to slow down. I was having a hard time processing all the information that was passing by at such speed. I wanted to get out and walk, touch the ground, be at a different, more natural rhythm. I told my husband, who was driving, that I would prefer if we could go a bit slower. As the car slowed down, my body/being settled into a new rhythm. I was able to travel along the highway and be mindful, present and remain aware within the whole.
We are unavoidably part of this busy world. But you do not need to lose your focus on consciousness or lose your meditation practice. The speed of life offers many opportunities to go inward and find out what you are really feeling.
Instead of seeing life as adverse, use this day as an opportunity to notice what you feel. First start with noticing how you physically feel in situations. Where do you hold tension? What is that tension saying? Can you honour that voice, spoken through your body, and live in greater balance?
Perhaps that voice is asking you to get out of the shopping mall and take a few breaths of fresh air. Perhaps it says that you need to plow through a crowd and complete your errands without dallying. Perhaps it offers you inner wisdom to skip a party and take a bath instead, or go out dancing instead of staying home. Whatever you need, tune into it. Allow your body to be your best friend, a barometer for how you are feeling and responding to any given situation. When you act from a place of rooted, vital expansion, you will always remain in balance within the whole.
Today, ask yourself: “Where do I hold tension?” Watch what arises and practice making friends with your body. Listen to the wisdom and respect what you hear.
Then go a little deeper. At any time throughout this day, ask yourself the following: “What am I feeling? What do I need to feel rooted, vital and expansive?”
Go inside, and be honest with yourself. Allow yourself to receive yourself. Because the ego is very externally driven, these kind of internally sensitive questions help you tap into a bigger picture beyond your ego. Ask yourself this question several times today and see what arises.
I would love to hear from you how you get on this week with your meditation practice and your moment-to-moment awareness. Feel free to leave a comment in the space below. I am cheering you on in giving yourself the gift of presence. Why? Because YOU are worth it!
Until next week,
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.