November 18, 2011
Comment from Kathy — “I have trouble meditating in general. I can relax completely but then the slightest things disturb me. Things like my eyelids fluttering or an itch. My limbs become restless. Can you advise any strategy to help deal with that so I can stay in that relaxed state?”
11-19-2011 — Meant to add my comments before publishing this post yesterday. So here they are now — better late than never!
The obstacle to staying in a relaxed state is TRYING to stay in a relaxed state. You can feel restless and have fluttering eyelids and still be relaxed. The key to remaining relaxed is non-resistance. Let it be OK if you feel restless or your eyelids flutter. Go ahead and scratch an itch. Although some meditation styles may require that you stay perfectly still, we don’t subscribe to that approach. Naturalness is the key. Learning to let go of resistance to what is happening is the essence of the practice. Take it as it comes, and when you find your are resisting that, let it go. Even the resistance when it comes up, is part of the process. In our approach to meditation, you can’t make a mistake. Everything is part of the process of meditation!
April 12, 2011
I’m so glad some of you asked for a meditation for patience. I really needed this! Whenever I’m creating a new meditation, I explore my own experience. Exploring my experience of impatience brought insights, and helped me notice when I was trying to rush things rather than relaxing into the natural rhythm of how things are unfolding in my life. This new podcast meditation was created to allow you (and me) to relax into life’s natural timing.
When we are impatient, we are in a hurry for things to be different. Whether we’re eager to finish a project, or make a change in ourselves or our circumstances, we are focussed on the future. We’re at point A, but our attention is on getting to point B. In essence, we feel that things will be better at point B, and we’re trying to get away from point A.
The fast pace of life and living in a culture that values quantity and speed feeds impatience. For many of us, it takes a strong intention and usually some sort of practice to counteract that. Meditation is certainly a great antidote to our speedy culture, and you can add to that an intention to come back to the present throughout the day. It’s a great help to be in tune with your body, because it will tell you when you are rushing.
Next time you feel impatient, check in with your body. What do you feel? Chances are you’ll feel some agitation and restlessness. Let yourself be present to that. You might then find that some other feeling emerges — sadness, anger, frustration, fear… Allow yourself to be present to that. Allow the emotions to be felt and see what happens. See what else you experience by being present to yourself and the moment. Hopefully you’ll notice the aliveness that is there, and find fulfillment in simply being present to what is.
Take a little more time, and look around you and see what is there — the richness of experience is nothing short of a miracle. You hear sounds, touch textures, see colors and shapes, and have a huge variety of smells and tastes to feed the senses. If you find a relief in relaxing into the now, make note of that for the future. Take a moment to let that sink in, to recognize that the real fulfillment in life doesn’t have anything to do with finishing a project or changing yourself and your circumstances. It has to do with the simple experience of being alive, and the richness of that experience.
January 19, 2011
Getting me to bed was a long routine for my mother. She’d have me all tucked in and start to leave my room and then I’d say, “Mommy, I want some water”. Off she’d go for water, and once I’d had that, she’d be on her way again. My next ploy for keeping her near was — “leave a crack in the door”. She’d leave the door a little open and I’d say “bigger”, and she’d open it a bit further and start to step away. “It’s too big, make it smaller”, I’d say. You can see where this is going! I’m not sure how she would finally make an exit, but I do remember what was going on inside me. I was anxious!
I haven’t thought about this for years, not until I started recording this new podcast (Sleep Meditation for Children). I wanted to go back and remember and get into my child world. What would have helped me if I could have had a guided meditation back then? I tried to speak to the child that I was, and this new podcast offering is what resulted. It is designed to help a child settle into bed and relax into sleep. For children who are fearful at bedtime, there is an added element of a “make believe friend” to help them feel reassured.
Please listen to the meditation first and see if you feel it will be suitable for your child. It’s for fairly young children. I’m sure you’ll check to see if your child liked it after the first time they hear it, and see if he or she has a question about what something means. Like all guided meditations, this will work for some and not others. I do hope, though, that it will send lots of children off to sleepyland feeling relaxed, safe and loved.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with it here. And it’s fine if you use it as an adult. We’ve all still got the child we were within us!
February 25, 2010
Even a few minutes is enough to relax and release tension. Our latest podcast episode, Mini Break from Work or Study, is a short meditation you can use when you have just a few minutes to spare. It guides you through a process that you can use anytime, even when you don’t have your mp3 player with you.
After you’ve done it a few times, your body will remember to use it to relax. Similar in length to the Deep Relaxation Meditation in our first podcast episode, this meditation has a different approach. You’ll be guided to let go of your work, stretch, take some deep breaths and do a quick body scan with tension release. I think you’ll be impressed with how much difference a little time away from work or studies can make.
If you can take a little time here and there to relax, it can make a big difference. Making it a habit to take breaks throughout the day can really reduce your stress. I have to remind myself to do this all the time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the sense of urgency about getting things done. You may feel you can’t afford to take the time, but you really can’t afford not to! When you take time off to “reset”, you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more. When you feel clear and relaxed, everything goes better!
November 19, 2009
Do you ever find yourself resisting meditation? Perhaps you’ve resolved to meditate regularly either because you think it’s good for you, or you’ve enjoyed meditating and what it does for you. And yet, for some reason, you find yourself resisting meditation. Georgina asked about this in a comment:
“I really love meditation and your podcasts have greatly assisted me and changed my life. But even though I love meditation and I know it is good for me, I find myself resisting doing it almost daily… why is that? Do you have any insight on why we resist meditation? Why I find it so hard to sit for just 10 minutes a day sometimes? Is it the mind not wanting you to go away from it?”
Before I comment, I’d like to invite you to share your experience with this. Do you find you resist meditation? How do you experience that resistance? Do you have any idea why you resist?
I know many people struggle with this. As I wrote to Georgina, the best thing is to investigate for yourself why you resist. It can help you get in touch with what the resistance is all about and lead to valuable insights. Often when we become conscious of the feelings and beliefs that underlie our behavior, we can find ways to make changes.
I suspect that the reason for the resistance may be different for different people, but a couple of possibilities come to mind. It may simply be the momentum in our busy lives that keeps us moving at fast speed, as well as our culture which is telling us to do, do, do.
Our culture doesn’t recognize a very fundamental principle, and that is that being rested and relaxed is the most important key to being creative and productive. Getting things done is equated with putting in time. With this deeply ingrained idea, we often don’t give ourselves permission to take time out for meditation. And then when we do take the time, the mind and and body are in such high gear that we feel restless. You may sit to meditate and find yourself feeling like you have to get up and go. Meditating requires that we be prepared for that and continue to experience the restlessness and let it unwind.
The resistance can also be emotional. All of our busyness keeps us from feeling things we don’t want to feel. Meditation gets us in touch with our inner experience, including our emotions. If there is something going on in our lives that troubles us or we are not comfortable with certain emotions, we may tend to avoid meditation. And yet, to be truly relaxed and present, which are both goals of meditation, we have to be able to experience our emotions.
What is your experience with this? Do you resist meditating sometimes, and do you know why?
September 30, 2009
These words — “in life, as in music, the pauses make all the difference” — floated into my mind a few weeks back. I tweeted them on Twitter and started a post about them. The post has been saved as a draft since then, barely started and abandoned. Checking in with my drafts today, the words were quite welcome, as I am in a place where I need to pause. There have simply been too many things going on and my mind and body need a break. Reading these words was a good reminder, since everything in our culture demands that we constantly do, do, do, and then do some more.
We think that when we pause — whether for a brief break or a week-long retreat — we are losing time that could be used productively. We think we’re making progress when we’re in motion — moving forward, as it were, on our way to our goal. In reality, it’s often when we pause that the most progress is made. It’s common wisdom that discoveries are made and insights come when we stop working on something and let it go. Inspiration and insight spring from deep within. They can’t be reached through mental focus, thinking and logic. They are accessed when the mind is relaxed and creativity can flow.
Pauses refresh and renew, hence they actually contribute to our productivity. But even more important, they bring balance and an enjoyable rhythm to life. We can’t live at all without the long pause of sleep or even the tiny pause between the breaths. Pauses give life. Why not honor and allow ourselves to relax into them completely? Today, instead of lamenting the fact that I need to take some time off, I’m relishing the hours ahead. And when I’ve had enough r and r, I’ll relish plunging back into work.
In music, it’s the pauses that make the rhythms. It’s in the pauses that the notes settle in and have time to reverberate in our hearts. It’s in life’s pauses that we find the silent background of our being. Today I shall delight in pauses!
August 17, 2009
Was wondering what I’d blog about this week and a trip to our sunroom screamed “decluttering” to me. I hate to say why, but I’m sure you can guess. The sunroom has become a storeroom for our business — full of boxes for things received, bubble wrap envelopes for CDs to mail, and all sorts of related stuff. Richard is great at keeping things neat. His tolerance for clutter is way lower than mine. But still sometimes we get busy and the boxes start to take over. Hence the room’s cry for help. Well, truth be told, hence the cry for help by my psyche!
As soon as I walked in the sunroom, I felt the energy of the clutter. It’s unpleasant to say the least! I’ve promised myself to take care of it by day’s end. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to doing it. I find decluttering to be a lot like meditation. It’s a kind of meditation-in-action for me. It has the same calming and grounding effect when I do it in a relaxed, non-pressured way. It has to be done in a loving way. It can feel so self-nurturing when I’m not chiding myself for what I find, for having let it get out of control. It feels good when I allow myself to be there, fully present to all the sensations, emotions and thoughts that accompany the work, and that includes being present to the self-critical part of me! If I’m present to that self-critical part, I have a chance to cut myself some slack. It feels good when I allow myself to relax into it — when I give myself “all the time in the world” to do it, not being pressured by the clock.
Is this sounding at all like meditation to you? It does to me. It’s the same art. Meditation is all about the art of living, the art of how we do things. How we do something is totally about how we handle our inner world — how we handle our thoughts, emotions and the experiences that come our way. We can make decluttering a meditative experience. Instead of starting out with a logical plan, I like to just dive in. I enter the room or area that needs to be cleared and organized and just start — taking one step at a time as my intuition guides me. It’s so much more relaxing that way.
I read an article with all sorts of tips about decluttering — practical things to do. It sounded so intelligent, logical, effective. But I balked at the idea of following some rules, of having to things set up and plan in advance. That’s the way that person decluttered — it worked for them, but I can guarantee you that they didn’t start out with that list. That’s just how it developed as they did it and then they said — wow, that worked — now I can tell someone else how. I much prefer to get in there and discover how I do it. Like meditation, it’s an exploration that reveals my own path to me. If I start out with a instruction manual, then I think there’s a right and wrong way to do it. I start getting awkward and ignoring my own intuition and inclinations. What’s more it becomes work when it can be play!
It’s like writing this post. I had no idea when I started where it would take me. I just started writing and discovered where it took me. Just like meditation. Just like life.
July 27, 2009
Although many people have reported stress relief from our meditations, we’ve still had requests for a special meditation for stress. This inspired me to create this latest podcast — a meditation that goes further and helps to root out the stress at a deeper level.
Like all the guided meditations I create, I am meditating as I speak. I am literally meditating with you. Since I was feeling a lot of pressure on the day I recorded this meditation, I found myself sinking deeply into my own experience and talking my way through it. I actually felt a lot better after I finished the recording! I hope your experience is the same.
Acting under a sense of pressure doesn’t help us accomplish what we need to do. In fact, the feeling of pressure can interfere. Our energy is actually being dissipated and our attention scattered as we are in an over-stimulated state. In reality, we are able to accomplish a lot more when we are relaxed. Our minds are clearer and all of our energy can go toward the task at hand rather than into pressuring ourselves. And of course, it’s extremely unpleasant to feel pressured.
Relaxation is the antidote to that pressured state. It’s an antidote for stress. It’s so difficult, though, to relax once we’re feeling that kind of pressure. We feel as if we have to meet its demands! We hesitate to take the time to relax. So it’s important understand that taking the time to relax will actually help us accomplish more.
Also, it can be challenging to sit still with that feeling of pressure. It may be accompanied by unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, irritability and so on. Continuing to be focused on a task keeps us from feeling the inner discomfort that is propelling us. To allow deep relaxation to happen, we need to be able to be present to the emotions and bodily sensations associated with the stress and pressure. Being able to sit with those feelings and and sensations and experience them completely helps them to resolve. It allows the tensions to unwind.
Using this meditation regularly should help develop a habit of noticing when a sense of pressure is present and then backing off. The more we respond the the pressure, the more pressured we feel. Our muscles tighten and our emotions escalate in their intensity. This meditation can help you develop new ways of responding to stress, ways which help create more balance and ease.
At the end of the meditation, you have the option of continuing on your own with the music. Be creative — use the various strategies that were used during the meditation in the way that works best for you. Some of the things mentioned were noticing the breath, feeling what the pressure feels like, being fully present to the emotions, noticing tension in the body and letting it go. Let your intuition guide you. You can learn to relieve the stress and pressure using your own inner knowing. You just need to take the time to listen.
May 12, 2009
I recently had an email from someone under a great deal of stress asking which meditations to use to keep stress from making him sick and out of balance. Although anything that’s relaxing will help relieve stress, I recommended the following podcast episodes in particular:
- Mini Relaxation Break
- Breath Awareness
- Simply Being
- Effortless Meditation
- Deep Rest
- Letting Go
I recommended these particular meditations because they don’t have a specific focus or ask you to be active in any way. My sense is that they would allow for the deepest rest and therefore the most release of tension. When we are deeply relaxed, our body chemistry and muscles switch gears from the flight or fight response into a more relaxed style of functioning. The energy of the body can then go to work to release tension and recuperate.
Ultimately, though, I encourage you to try the various episodes for yourself. Try the ones whose titles and descriptions appeal most to you. That way you can see the effects of the various meditations. It just might be that a focused meditation would be most helpful with some specific types of stress. If you are grieving, for example, the Grief Meditation might be most useful.
(You can listen to our podcast on iTunes or on this page.)
February 26, 2009
I’m convinced that adequate rest is the most important factor for our health and well-being. We’re a culture of “doers” and so we might think of exercise first. I’d say exercise is a close second to rest, but being well-rested is the foundation of everything — our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. Being well-rested means getting enough sleep at night, and it means taking breaks when you need them during the day. It means not pushing yourself until you’re over-tired.
With this in mind, it’s surprising that it’s taken me this long to create this new podcast episode “Deep Rest Guided Meditation”. Even though many of the meditations will help with getting rest, this meditation goes further with it. The whole focus is to rest completely — to let go of everything going on in our lives and allow the whole system to get a deep rest. Just beginning the meditation with that intention starts the process in motion.
It’s so easy to overlook the importance of rest, even though it’s essential to absolutely everything we do. Most of us have a sleep deficit. Most of us don’t get enough rest. If you have to wake up with an alarm, you are probably not getting enough sleep.
To suggest that you get enough sleep and enjoy the luxury of being really well rested is quite a radical thing to do in our culture, and yet with enough rest you’ll not only feel better, but make better decisions and get more done. Sleep deprivation accounts for all sorts of accidents and mistakes.
Hopefully you will come out of this meditation feeling more rested and refreshed, but there is also the possibility that you will feel even more tired. That’s because of the accumulated fatigue under the surface. We tend to override that fatigue in our rush to get things done. When you relax in this meditation, you may begin to notice just how tired you actually are. If that is your experience, find a time when you can do the meditation and have extra time to rest afterwards. Try to get more sleep.
I promise you that getting enough rest will not mean you get less done! I know when I’m well rested, I can be more creative and productive, not to mention enjoying things more.