I’ve started meditating again. Finally, after six years of hemming and hawing, I’m just doing it.
A couple of weeks ago I started going to a Buddhist program that has child care, so Annika gets to play on the playground and do toddler yoga while I meditate and get my spiritual cup filled. This is something I was desperately needing even before Annika was born. And now? Well, I don’t need to explain it to the moms. And I don’t think I could explain it to the non-moms, but here’s a go at it. Imagine that your boss lives with you and you had to wipe his ass every time he pottied, and then after he’d been almost potty-trained, he all of a sudden he wanted to wear diapers again.
When you live with a toddler, you never get to turn off. Even when she’s not here, or sleeping, I have a hard time doing it.
So it’s just nice to have some time to sit in the stillness and make an attempt to quiet down my mind that races constantly. It’s hard to calm down the constant tugging of the brain.
Today I meditated at home for 10 minutes. As I sat there in the stillness of my home, calming my brain and turning thoughts away as they popped into my head, I came to a realization. Our brains need to be exercised just like any other muscle. The only thing is, with mind exercise, it’s the opposite of exercising your body.
Mind exercise requires that you be still and train your thoughts to land and then float away, so your brain can have time to repair.
I’m feeling super hippy-ish right now, all zen and shit, so bear with me. I’m still the obnoxious ass that you all know and like at least a little bit.
But seriously, meditation does wonders for me. It helps me be patient. It helps me remember that it is possible to get everything done and that Annika’s sole purpose in life is not to make me go completely insane, after I spent three hours trying to convince her to go to the park, then when I decided to make dinner she decided she was ready to go outside.
That’s all I’m saying. Meditation. Good. Peace. Stillness.
For the Austinites interested, I’m going here.
A quick lesson in meditation:
Find a comfortable spot, you can sit in any position. You can even lie down, just make sure your body is opened up, not in a curled position.
If you are sitting on the floor, you can cross your legs or if you have knee problems, get a pillow and straddle it so that your body is comfortable and your knees are not stressed.
Place your hands on your knees or fold them in your lap, whatever is comfortable for you.
The whole point of meditation is to be comfortable so that your mind can relax without thinking of any physical stress.
Close your eyes. You can set a timer before you start so that you aren’t distracted by wondering how long you’ve been sitting. I’d recommend using something that has a soft tone. It doesn’t matter how long you meditate. You can try five or ten minutes the first few times and work your way up.
There are a number of ways to relax your mind, but the way I was taught was to count. Count to ten. On each count, breathe in and out. Then count to the next number, then breathe, in and out. Example: one (breathe in and out), two (breathe in and out) and so forth.
When you get to ten, count backwards down to one. Then start over again.
Focus on your breath and the counting.
As thoughts come into your head, don’t try to shut them down. Allow the thought to enter, observe it, then watch it float away. I like to imagine that I am softly flicking it away. I watch it float away, like a feather floating in the wind.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it.
As you are meditating, don’t try to force anything. And if you find yourself becoming uncomfortable, allow yourself to stretch and move as needed. But come back to the center when you are comfortable again.
I learned to meditate at a Buddhist temple in Detroit. I took a class, so I had the opportunity to ask lots of questions and get feedback.
Meditation has been found to improve all sorts of mental and physical conditions. It improves mood, elevates happiness, decreases depression. It reduces blood pressure and anxiety. Claims have been made that it helps with things like heart problems, PMS, diabetes, and a number of other health problems.
I don’t know about all that, but I sure do like it.