I’ve mounted a small framed plaque on my office wall. It says:
“Peace. It is not the absence of noise, trouble or hard work. It is to be in the midst of those things, and still be calm in your heart.” An anonymous saying likely created by someone familiar with the practice of prayer or meditation….creating moments of stillness, during which it’s possible to find the strength and sanity we need to carry on. For our children. For our tribe. For ourselves. For the planet.
Dan Harris, commentator, in his great little book “10% Happier” talks about meditation this way: “…lying in bed at night, I realized that the voice in my head—the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember—was kind of an asshole.” Noted by Buddha thousands of years ago, our jumpy, impatient thoughts can drive us crazy, especially under stress. Harris details his experience of observing those thoughts with an intent to be free of them. He realized that often our thoughts are in the future or the past, rarely leaving room for experiencing the present moment. Steeped in fear, worry and regret, we get caught up and forget we can set them aside. Easier said than done.
It Takes a Practice
I learned mediation in college. An antidote, I think, to my roaming ADHD mind. Thinking of so many things randomly made me fidgety and impatient and difficult to concentrate. It was hard on relationships because it made it hard to pay full attention to anyone. My impulsive thoughts and scattered nature led to depression and excessive drinking more often than I was comfortable admitting.
Competitive college swimming was a great experience of being good at something I loved and at the same time soothing. The pool became another world of “present-sensory” delight. I learned yoga and stretching to balance the stress of twice-per-day workouts. I dabbled in meditation, calming my mind and controlling my body. I got faster in the pool. I walked more peacefully through my life.
I have long relied on this “meditation” skill to stay centered, to accept so much I can’t change and to be happier than without it. I dropped the formality. My teachers called it as “just sitting.” No spiritual trappings, no cosmology. Not even Buddhism. Just sit. How?
Give yourself privacy for 5 minutes daily for the next few days. Do this and notice the changes….
- Set your timer. Make the alarm soft.
- Sit comfortably. Get a firm cushion.
- Close your eyes. …or let your gaze become soft into the distance.
- Don’t control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus on the breath and the movement of your belly with each.
- Be patient with distraction. This isn’t failure. It’s practice. Just bring your thoughts back to your breathing and relax.
If you’d like to be stronger, less anxious and more in charge of your life, perhaps we can help. John Davis, LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in downtown Delray Beach. He can be reached at 561-213-8030…better yet, text him for an appointment!