I’m trying to continue writing whatever meditative style ruminations may filter through my mind. I try to release them on Mondays thereby the sections entitled “Meditation Monday”. However, meditation and migraines don’t mix. It is not pleasant and difficult to achieve. kudos to you if you have been able to do so. I don’t believe you’re having a real migraine if you say you can. I’m a skeptic like that. Unless it is an ocular migraine and then those are just really weird but not necessarily painful. I also know an awful lot of people who confuse migraines with really bad headaches.
They are not really bad headaches.
Repeat: NOT really bad headaches.
So even though it is now Tuesday, I am feeling better after a bout of something last week and the culminating migraine from Sunday that carried into Monday, I am back and feeling better. So I thought I’d blog for a moment because I am trying to make this a habit. Whether or not it is a good habit is anyone’s guess.
And I didn’t meditate or ruminate about anything yesterday because it was physically and mentally impossible to do so. It was all I could do to actually accomplish the things I did: some light housework, a shower, dental check-up appointment, errands ran that I didn’t get done last week, and grocery shopping. Exciting, huh?
And today it’s life back to normal. Or abnormal but mostly mundanely almost insanely normal.
Unless you don’t consider starting off your day with tarot readings as normal but that’s your problem, not mine. 😀
Balance. Woke. Enlightenment. Becoming One.
These are all part of a current (last few decades or more but within the last century) movement of people working towards becoming what they feel is a better person. You can do all the yoga, meditation retreats, and vegan/paleo/raw eating that your pocketbook can handle but you still feel empty and unsatisfied. Not happy. Let me tell you something – not a single person is 100% jumping for joy cheerful 100% of the time. That is not representative of truth or happiness. In fact, people who appear to be happy all the time experience other emotions such as anger, resentment, sadness, etc. They just process these feelings in a different way or they find meaning in situations different than others. They are not immune to the stress of everyday life – they have just found some secret to balancing it all. Or they are well on their way to leading that perfect life of balance.
Remember those little ways I told you to be able to find a moment to meditate? I’ll bet those happy people have already implemented such a secret into their routines long ago. Finding balance for your life can be as simple as implementing small changes such as that over a period of time. And we’re not just talking about a balanced diet here, either.
I think one of the misconceptions people hold when they think of finding balance in their life is that they believe there needs to be an equal amount of time spent in each area of work, home, and social commitments. This is not only untrue but virtually impossible for the average person to accomplish. It also still won’t find you the balance you seek if you merely focus on the external things in life and not the internal things as well. Yup, you find that balance within and it will spread to affect those areas outside your mind and body. It also isn’t a one and done sort of fix. finding and keeping balance is a life-long journey. It is constantly changing because life is constantly changing especially when it has fun throwing obstacles in your path when you least expect it.
How you weather through the storms of change through the hurricanes and the calm seas is the foundation of that inner balance we all seek. Work, spouse, children, siblings, parents, friends, bills, studies, and everything else that touches our lives are constantly vying for attention. You need to find for yourself a way to be able to find a moment or two for yourself. Every day if possible. Find that moment and just breathe. Calm, ground, breathe.
Now for all that external stuff? How do you find balance in that? That is more difficult because it is different for every single person. No two people have the exact same pressures on them at any point in their life. There may be similarities but they are not the same. These outside pressures are also always in a mode of change. A young parent of a young child is going to have different priorities than an older parent of a young child or an adult with no children at all (regardless of that adult’s age).There are numerous lifestyles and situations I can think of, numerous I have been in and numerous more I’m sure you can come up with including examples from your own life. However, there is one thing every person’s life has in common to be able to find balance. The important thing, and sometimes a difficult thing, is to prioritize the wants, needs, and desires. The dream journal discussed last week can help as a guide with that.
You can set small daily goals of things to accomplish and build it up to larger and lengthier things you want to accomplish. This doesn’t just mean getting to the bottom of the laundry basket but it can also include adding some time to learn a new skill, specifically set aside some socializing time or quiet time or family time. These times should be more relaxed and fun rather than high-stress. You get enough stress from the deadline at work, the cranky co-worker, the teenager whose grades are slipping, the baby who is colicky, and the dog that just won’t listen when you’re trying to house-train it regardless of how many obedience classes you attend and how many episodes of the Dog Whisperer you watch. WOW! No wonder you feel unbalanced! With all that going on you need to find that moment to breathe. Calm. Breathe. I promise you, it’s there.
Something that you may not realize or even consider but it bears telling – you can’t do it all all of the time. I know you want to believe you’re some superhero but there are others around you. Others who can and are willing to help especially at those times you are feeling overwhelmed. Reach out. Ask for help. That help will give you a moment to breathe. That breath will help you to feel more in balance. That balance will put you in a position to help another. You can do this but you don’t necessarily have to do it alone. Even if you feel alone I promise you that you are not.
Did you learn to ride a bike without training wheels? If so, good for you but many people who have learned to ride a bike learn to do so with those training wheels firmly in place. What do those training wheels do? They help you to learn balance. Keep those training wheels in place while you ride out the storms and maybe they will one day wear out and fall off. Maybe not, but you might realize that you’re not relying on them as much as before.
Today we are going to ponder on dreams – not the kind that occurs while you are asleep but those dreams that you wish for in your waking life. They can be adventurous dreams like wanting to be able to travel the world or owning a house or finding the perfect mate or not worrying if you’ll be able to feed your family because you bought a new table lamp. If you are poor or you have ever been poor then you know that purchasing something ‘frivolous’ like a lamp or rug is adventurous. Regardless of size or monetary value, dreams can be priceless and essential towards living a fruitful and meaningful life. And we all have them! Some of those dreams are similar and others are very very different but they are still there for us waiting for us to accomplish our dreams.
One of the best ways to be able to begin this dream accomplishing journey is to write down your dreams. Yup – start yourself a dream journal! You can use your phone, tablet, pc, notebook, 3×5 cards, an Excel spreadsheet, whatever works best for you! For me, I find it best to write things down on cards or scraps of paper that I can then rearrange and organize before committing to “nice” paper like a dedicated spiral-bound notebook. The physical act of writing creates signals between the brain and your subconscious on a molecular level that is difficult to describe without getting all scientifically neurological and we are not going to go venturing into that realm right now. We are going to focus to venture into your dreams – and find out what they are! I’ll bet you can even think of 50 dreams you’d like to accomplish right now if time, money and any other worries were of no concern. Some of you may say “I can think of more than 50!” while others struggle with creating such a list. You are struggling because you are not freeing yourself of constraints and you are not broadening your horizons beyond the tangible. “Free your mind and the rest will follow…” (I’ll stop singing.)
At this moment you might be thinking I am crazy; that I have no clue what I am talking about; that I am just too flipping full of positivity nonsense that I cannot possibly have ever lived in the real world. Well, I have. I do. And I am right not because of purely my own belief but because of methods that have worked. So hear me out before passing any further judgment or dismissing me as a positivity-obsessed loon.
Now, I want you to write down your dreams. Remember to not limit yourself as to what you can physically or mentally or financially afford right now but your dreams. Dreams are not dependent on all those things. Dreams are wishes; they are hope; they can be anything. They can be tiny or they can be HUGE. What they are, ultimately, is yours.
Got that? Got them written? I’ll give you a few more minutes to scribble things off the top of your head – yeah, that’s right. Don’t think too deeply! If you’re thinking hard then you’re concentrating and putting logic into the mix. This is not logic – it’s dreaming!
Now that you’ve got your bunch of things written down (you can always add more later), we are going to categorize them. Wait, what? I just told you to not think and now I’m telling you to think. Yes, I am. Here is a selection of categories that your dreams may fit into – you may also think of other categories not mentioned here. This is your journal, so compose it how you want.
Do you see some categories that you had not even thought of mentioning for your dreams? Go ahead, if the list of categories suddenly spurred some dreams to be placed into other little boxes, go ahead and do that. I’ll wait.
Some of you may be having fun with this little exercise. Other may be thinking “this seems like work!” It is supposed to be fun but nothing ever came of nothing and we want to create something so… just do this little thing. Remember, you’re not doing it for me. You are doing this for yourself. You are enough.
You can organize (or not) your journal however you like. You can make it full of lists and a few simple words. You can write whole essays on a single topic if that makes you happy. You can dedicate an entire page to just one of your dreams. However, you want – this is yours to create. Why are you doing this? To help you make those dreams come true, of course! Some of these things will be long-term goals or feel like you will never be able to reach them. Those “unreachables” will be committed to the long-term line.
Yup, you guessed it – the next step to organizing these dreams are to give them a time frame. Do not just jump in whole hog and do not tell yourself this is impossible. It is totally possible. These are your dreams and you need to believe your dreams will come true. You can make this happen for yourself provided you are patient and you believe in yourself. Choose one thing – one little thing. Details the steps to accomplish that little goal. Make them baby steps and slowly ease into it. For example, you may decide one of your dreams is to lead a healthier life. One of the steps to doing so would be to eat healthier. We’ll say that you like to drink soda pop – a LOT. You know this is not a healthy habit but you really like it. You can start to step into a more healthy beverage by replacing one soda with one other more healthy alternative. Water is great but if you are not ready for that, replace one soda with one herbal tea. After a while, you then up your game a bit to drinking two glasses of water or tea or whatever the healthier beverage of your choice is at the time. Goals being accomplished in a manner that will help you towards that dream rather than jumping in with both feet only to backslide and get discouraged. This example can work for anything you want to accomplish. How do I know? I have been using this method for myself in many different categories for the last several years and seeing absolute results. You can, too. I believe in you.
You may have noticed and may ask why I have placed this in the Meditation Monday category of my blog. This will take dedication and meditation is a dedicated practice. You can use whatever dream you have chosen to be your focus as part of your daily meditation. You can even work towards the goals of more than one dream!
Example: you can work towards the physical dream of a more healthy diet while simultaneously working towards an emotional dream of being more empathetic towards your fellow humans. You will be doing the physical act of substituting soda for a more healthy beverage and meditating on empathy.
Envision the fulfillment of your goals. Truly see your Self accomplishing whatever it is you set out to do in minute details. If this is difficult for you or you begin to self-doubt, set that aside. Re-focus. Remember that you are enough. You are enough and you can do whatever you set your mind to do.
Meditation is a practice that I feel should be incorporated into every person’s lifestyle regardless of what sort of spiritual, religious, or atheist belief system you may observe. If you are one of those people who say “I just don’t have the time” or who say “I just can’t meditate” I am here to refute those beliefs because everyone can and, more importantly, should, find the time to do so. And you definitely have the ability to do so.
You don’t need any special cushions, music or silence, incense burning, special clothing, a candle flame, lots of time or any of that other rubbish “they” say you need. Some of those things are nice – especially if you have the time to meditate for long periods. Incense smells nice and accompanied by music or silence can really set the mood. Special floor cushions and loose-fitting comfortable clothing help add to your comfort if you are able to sit and meditate for an extended period of time. These things are all very nice but not required. All that is required is you and a few moments of time.
First, let’s start with breathing. Hey – you’re pretty good at doing that! You do it every day! Now let’s take that breathing to another level. Most gurus will tell you to breathe in through the nose and exhale through the mouth. You may have a medical condition that makes this difficult or impossible to do. You do what you are physically capable of doing. Let’s try it.
Breathe in a deep breathe. Now slowly breathe out. Good start! I think you’ve got the hang of this! Now let’s up your game and do this breathing with your eyes closed. Do this for three breaths. How do you feel? Was your mind racing? Did you feel silly? Did you wonder why anyone would think this is beneficial?
Here’s the trick for that racing mind – give it something to focus on! It can be your breathing. You can count. You can focus on a mantra or positive affirmation. You can think of an image. What you don’t have to do is clear your mind. Focusing on something is called concentration meditation.
Another meditation method involves allowing thoughts to wander in your mind, give them a moment of acknowledgment (don’t dwell on it), and allow it to pass by for another to come along. Don’t judge the thoughts – just be aware of them and whatever thoughts or feelings they may represent. This is a form of mindful meditation. It is a bit more difficult because most humans tend to perseverate on one thing when it pops into their head if there are strong feelings associated with it making it difficult to move on. This also can be a more time-consuming form of meditation but it does have benefits of helping you to develop inner balance.
There are plenty of other meditation types, but these are the two basic ones that seem to be not only the most popular but also the most frequently thought of after the stereotypical sitting cross-legged, chanting “Aum”, and emptying your mind (which is actually a form of concentration meditation!)
Now, I promised you that you can meditate and that you can do so every day. I find it very helpful to do so in the morning. It helps to start my day on an even keel. You may find a moment to do this as well but at any time of the day and even several times a day can be helpful. You will need a few moments where you will not likely be interrupted. This can be just before you start your drive to work while sitting behind the wheel of your car (but not while driving), just after the kids have left for school for the day, before you get out of bed in the morning, just as you are taking that first sip of coffee, while you are sitting on the toilet, while you are in the shower, or at any time you have a moment to yourself. I challenge you to start this every day.
Now, find that moment. In that moment do this: close your eyes, breathe, and repeat this “I am enough.” You can repeat it aloud, whispered, silently in your head, whatever. It is your mantra for this week. Repeat it three times with your three breaths. You are enough. Believe it.
This is your mission for the week. Go forth and meditate, grasshopper!