Starting the Sacred Journey may be exciting, scary, overwhelming, intoxicating… even nauseating, if you’ve had a bad case of morning sickness. It can feel like you’re on a roller coaster, or riding waves of the ocean with continually shifting highs and lows. There is so much going on – with emotions, hormones, body changes, life changes. Only this journey is one of the greatest you will ever take in your life, and one you will never forget. Like with any journey, we can just make it through, just get by, or we can choose to make the most of it. I’m guessing because you’re here now, you too want to make the most of it.
Meditation helps us ride the waves, like learning to surf or gently float in harmony with the tremulous waters. Meditation is one of the best practices for you to cultivate right now to make the most of this wonderful, wild ride. Meditation brings us peace and clarity like nothing else I know. It brings relaxation and mindfulness. It counters stress, tension and negativity. It helps us focus, and let go when need be. It allows us to more fully realize and experience the present moment. It helps us to be more aware – of both the world running around us, the thoughts wildly racing around our head, and the feelings deep down inside us.
And that’s just during pregnancy. Imagine how this can work for us throughout parenting!
If you are experienced with meditation, or have never tried it before, or gave it a try and just got frustrated, I ask that you try it with me now.
In the beginning, please remember this: give it time. At first, you may find yourself fidgeting to sit still and fighting with your monkey mind. That’s okay. Meditation will teach you not to fight, but to move with it. Just start and see how it feels. Like most everything we do, we become better with practice. In time, the learned ability to meditate can be the staff you lean on when work gets stressful, relationships painful, and mothering difficult.
A simple meditation is a great way to start the day. No time? Too much to do? Too many people you need to take care of or things to do? I know. We all feel that way. So how do you sneak in the time for yourself? Wake a few minutes early. Set the alarm and tell anyone/everything else depending on you that it/they can wait. Guess what? They can. You matter. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? And if you don’t start now, then when?
Seriously. Give this a try. Set your alarm for a half hour earlier than usual. If this means going to bed a little earlier, well, you might have to take a scrutinizing look at your day and see what can be eliminated to allow you the added rest. Yes, I know. You’re crazy busy. Very important. So many things to do. Right. We all are. Or are not. It’s a matter of choice. Yes, you can choose.We live in a culture that breeds busyness. At least we’re supposed to act busy. But what are we really getting done? It’s your choice. Busyness does not make us better. Fine, if you want to keep playing that game. But right now, you’re working on something else. New life, and your fullest life. So, you might have to make some changes…
Anyway, give it a try. A full thirty minutes earlier. The alarm goes off. Take one minute to stretch in bed and begin your day with positive affirmations. Yes, I know, this may sound silly, but give it a try. Think of it as your job, okay? Tell yourself you’re beautiful, you have a beautiful life, it’s a beautiful world, and today is going to be a beautiful day. Then schedule in 15 minutes of yoga, stretching or a brief walk. And then, your five minute meditation…
Wow! Now don’t you feel great? Don’t you feel more peaceful, balanced, calm, in touch and in tune and ready to start the day?
Okay, so now… for those new to meditation, how on earth do you meditate?
Let’s begin with a few thoughts on meditation.
First, it’s not something that just “comes.” You really do have to work at it. A few minutes a day is all it takes. And it is worth it.
You may want to give it a trial run and see how you feel. Commit to every day, 3-5 minutes a day, for 2-3 weeks.
I’m finding the more I do it, the better I am with it, and the better I feel in general. I hear that quite often from everyone who meditates. And think of how easy it really is: all you have to do is sit? Yeah, sure, you can do that!
Here’s a few tips to consider before you begin that worked for me.
- Don’t fight it. If a thought comes (and thoughts will come), greet it, honor it, and let it go.
- Imagine your thoughts like sticks floating down stream, and you are the solid rock in the river. Watch the stick come, watch the stick go…
- Imagine your mind like a comfortable room. Open the front door, and allow thoughts, feelings, distractions to come on in. Welcome them lovingly, gently, but without attachment. And then let them pass right on through, through the back door. Other thoughts will come in their place. One at a time. Let them all pass through like a gentle breeze. Don’t block, and don’t grasp.
- The key is in acknowledgement, not denial. In denial, we are fighting. It doesn’t work. Our minds aren’t that powerful yet and negativity is not what any of us need anyway. So allow. Let any and every thought come to you. Just face it without emotion or attachment or judgment. That’s key. Just see it as it is. Maybe name it. Honor it. And let it go. Let it come, but don’t hold on, and then let it pass. Amazingly the thoughts keep rolling through for some time, but when given space and allowed, eventually they slow down.
- Think of your mind not as a battlefield where you’re trying to fight off thoughts, emotions, judgments. Allow it to be an open space where all can pass through. Just without attachment. Do not hold on. And if you find yourself criticizing, judging, grasping, brewing, holding – acknowledge that too, and then let it go.
- Our minds are funny. The more clearly we see, the less weight each passing thought has. But if we try to ignore, the thoughts naturally expand and cry out for attention.
There are all kinds of “methods” for meditating. None are more right than others – it’s really just a matter of finding what works for you, giving it time, and sticking with it.
You might want to try different ways every morning this week and see if one way is more comfortable than another.
And remember, you only need to start with a few minutes a day.
- Many meditations focus on something. Your breath is a good focus. Watching your in breath. Watching your out breath. Maybe follow the pattern of your breathing, feel the sensations, the expansion, the mild movements. And thoughts will come and go, and your distraction will come and go, and each time, you gently return your mind to the breathing.
- Master teacher and author Jack Kornfield calls it “Training the puppy.” Very gently, you put the puppy down, say sit, stay. He gets up, runs around. Very gently, you put the puppy back down, say sit, stay… over and over and over again. Before you know it, the puppy gets it. He sits. He stays.
- Your position – See what works for you. A body position that is alert but relaxed. Not uncomfortable where you’re fighting pain, and not so comfortable you fall asleep (my husband does that!). Experiment. Some sit cross legged, hands resting on knees upward. Some sit erect in a hard chair, feet firmly planted, hands grounded on your thighs. Some stand, some walk, some sway, some get in wild positions and hold themselves there unmoving.
- Your eyes – can be open or closed. Aware of your environment but not tight. Soft focus, peripheral view. I like to keep my eyes closed as I’m too easily distracted, but when I’m out in the woods, I keep my eyes open.
- One of my favorites is the QiGong or Tai Chi standing posture for meditation. Stand straight. Feet about hip width apart. Weight firmly planted in the balls of your feet. Knees soft, slightly bent. Hips relaxed, pelvis slightly tucked inward. Sternum strong, shoulders back and down, neck long, chin slightly down. Imagine a cord pulling you up from the top/back of your head, while another “energy source” pulls you downward into the earth through the balls of your feet. You focus on the “earth below/sky above” feeling going through your meridians – just imagine power channels going through your body. And just below your navel, there’s where your “chi” or life force is stored. Try breathing into it. I know you can’t really breathe below your lungs, but try to envision feeling your life breath pass all the way down into your “dantien” – that point just below your navel. Focus on that for a while.
I could go on and on about all the benefits of meditation to your physical energy, emotional moods, and mental clarity, but I won’t. I’ll just ask you to try it and see for yourself. Then you tell me how you feel next week, okay?