Recently, I gave a meditation class for people who were either new or lapsed meditators. One person meditated 20 years ago, but recently with the mounting stresses of his job, felt he needed to begin again. I teach a form of meditation I know as "spiritual exercises."
At a stressful time 30 years ago, I had explored meditation and yoga, but neither drew me. As they say, horses for courses and this mare did not get on track with either of them. Part of my problem with meditation was that I could never quiet my mind or empty it. Then I learnt about spiritual exercises. The beauty of spiritual exercises is that I direct my energy beyond the mind to lift above it. I now start each day with them.
The human spirit is like a powerful motor with its own vibration. It is not a power I can "turn on" but a loving power that I can awaken to and use. Neither is it a power over which I have control, but is a loving presence that I can safely surrender to. It never leaves me.
The human spirit vibrates to loving. Each person that I meet has this extraordinary beauty within them. Who would not want to be in touch with it?
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
These simple steps offer a form of meditation that you can incorporate easily into your daily life.
1. DO NOT DISTURB
Find as peaceful a place as you can. If you have young children at home, you might invite them to create a Do Not Disturb notice for the door of the room where you meditate. They will know that this is your time, and will leave you in peace. Turn off phones, or any other sources of distraction.
2. NO WRONG WAY
With this simple form of meditation, there are no rules for your mind to worry over. The saying I work with is that there is no wrong way to do spiritual exercises, the only wrong way is not to do them. Experiment with what works best for you. No rules to break.
"If we don't go within, we go without."
3. REGULAR TIME -- DECIDE HOW LONG
When you are beginning, it is helpful to choose a regular time day, evening or whenever is best for you. A 15 minutes session can be a good start. To be aware of the time, you might like to set an alarm, or have a watch by you.
Wear comfortable clothing; make sure you are warm enough. You need to feel relaxed and safe. You might like to have a meditation blanket to feel cosy.
5. SIT UP -- NOT LIE DOWN
If you lie down to meditate, the chances are that you may go off to sleep. Not a bad thing but you might have a better experience by sitting up in a comfortable chair, ideally with a head rest.
6. KEY WORD -- LOVE
Bring to mind an image that evokes a feeling of loving. You could have a photo of your spouse, your child -- someone who inspires your love -- or a pet animal, by you.
The powerful loving essence within us I have come to know as the Light. Light that assists us to see clearly and understand what is true for us. Light that lifts us above the heaviness we sometimes feel. Light that awakens us to joy.
At the beginning of your meditation, invoke the presence of this Light as you let go of the concerns of the day. You might just say "Light for the highest good."
8. BREATHING EXERCISE
Pay attention to your breathing. Watch your breath as it enters your body, and again as it leaves. Experiment with this technique. Breathe in to a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Breathe out to a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Repeat this at your own rhythm. After doing the counting, you might watch your breathing, allowing yourself to breathe more deeply than perhaps you do normally. Slow deep breaths will help you to relax and let go; to become more peaceful.
As you do the breathing, notice how you feel. You might see colours or hear sounds. You may be aware of nothing in particular. It is all just fine. If busy thoughts come to mind, watch them like clouds passing across a blue sky. You do not need to engage with them. Let them be. They will pass.
10. NOTEPAD -- JOURNAL
You may get a pressing thought, such as "pick up the dry cleaning". It is good to write those thoughts down on a notepad so they stop disturbing you. When you come out of meditation, then act on them to get them out of the way.
You may receive insights that you wish to keep. A journal is a good place to record ideas, inspirations or guidance about a project you are working on. I find that if I do not write down these ideas, I will forget them, and they are often really useful to me.
At the end of your meditation, stretch up so that once again your feet are "on the ground", and you are ready to re-engage in everyday life.
Drink a glass of water -- this too will assist you back into ordinary life.
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." --Confucius