Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mindfulness Meditation and Mothering

I study and practice mindfulness meditation and have needed to develop and expand my abilities to keep up with my two little spiritual teachers. I just wanted to share some of what I have learned. If you are not ready to learn about meditation
... then this is NOT the post to read.

It is quite difficult for me when I see so many people suffering from stress and anxiety when they have the choice. I want to reach out and help by helping them to learn that they have a choice. However, it seems, what they feel they need is just an empathetic ear and not a lecture. I can understand that, and have needed to borrow someones ear for a while. However it is not the talking about the problem that is the problem. The problem is the anxiety and stress and unhappiness that is overflowing all over the place. I certainly am not saying that I am perfect. They call meditation a practice and that is what you do with it. Practice over and over until it becomes part of you. Then there will be the challenges and tests… helping you to learn more about yourself and realize that the limitations you put on your abilities are just an illusion. Some tests are much harder than others and I have certainly allowed the rug to be pulled out from under me a number of times. Then there are the processes that we just need to go through whether or not you believe it is a teaching that you chose before this lifetime or karma or just a unfortunate event. And then there is the realization that life goes on no matter how you choose to respond to it.

Mindfulness Meditation is when you decide to be watchful and attentive to where your mind is going and to realize that you are the master of your thoughts. Thoughts can become actions and feelings if we so choose to allow that. Or thoughts can be like clouds floating in the sky above you. For example, a dark cloud can blow over you and say, “what if I don’t make rent this month?” You can point at it and say, “Hmm. Look at that thought. That’s interesting, but it is just a passing thought.” ,then let it keep floating away. Or you can sit and analyze it and stress and wonder about the rent and money. I am not saying that you shouldn’t think about your finances. I am just saying that your clouding your mind with it for hours or throughout the day is not helpful.

Your first meditation will involve many distractions. Thoughts will cloud your mind, your mind will try to take over and tell you that it is too noisy or too hot/cold or you are too sleepy/hungry/thirsty. Your mind will lead you to believe that you don’t have time or you are just not cut out for this. THAT is an illusion. That is your mind liking status quo because that is what it knows. That is your mind acknowledging and knowing that something has to change. You have to decide that this is what you are going to do. Instead of making excuses and apologies you need to acknowledge that it is an illusion and decide to meld meditation into your day and your being.

Once you decide to sit down and start practice, it helps to acknowledge the senses. “Oh look…there was another sound/thought/feeling.”, then let it pass like a cloud overhead. When this happens, know that you are not doing it wrong. This is normal. Soon, with practice, it will become easier.

If your mind is really racing you can start with focusing on something peaceful… a picture, a memory, a statue. At times I would focus on a candle or the stream of smoke coming from the incense stick and my breathing. There are more specific instructions that I won’t go into now. Oh by the way…sitting in the spa drinking beer while listening to jazz is not meditating…. It’s chillin’ LOL! It is certainly necessary to relax the body. But just because the body is relaxed and the mind is numbed… doesn’t mean you have found peace.

You can start to apply this even before you master it.
You take your peaceful thought, your happy memory and when you feel that you are loosing your peace you stop and refocus on that thought. You experience all of it. You utilize all of your senses to remember it. Then you go on with your day. At first you will do this all the time. But after some practice you will stay centered longer.

Some practices that helped me were yoga and throwing clay. It seems for me, it is far too difficult to stay balanced in yoga or to center my clay when I wasn’t centered or balanced, and I was letting stress or thoughts overrun my mind. Being healthy in all other areas of my life also helped tremendously. Exercise, sleep and eating healthy all help with your practice and give you the best opportunity to find your peace.

You can be physically busy, watching your children, cleaning your house or getting ready to walk out the door, but your mind doesn’t need to be moving as quickly as you. Your mind can be peaceful and you can allow your shoulders to relax and the tension to drain out of you. Life will happen. There will be traffic, there will be flat tires, there will be bumps in the road. That is just normal. That is just life and you need to allow yourself the realization that you can choose how you will respond to those bumps.

If you choose to routinely respond with stress, anxiety, worry, anger, frustration…. Then that is how you will feel. That is how your friends will view you and that is what your children will feel from you. It will spill out all over everyone you know. Even if you think you are keeping it to yourself. You can put on a happy face but you can’t fool your spiritual teachers. Children are intuitive in ways we can hardly comprehend.

Practice and be open to new ways to allow the clouds to fly by. Ohm Shanti.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

Hey Angela, it is Nikki Sawicky. I found your blog through Tiffany's. I saw you are living in Squaw and wanted to tell you that we are moving to Dunlap in January, so we should meet up! Dunlap is about 15 minutes up the hill from Squaw.