Meditation for People who Can’t Stop Thinking!

Meditate by Frogarythm on FlickrHave you tried meditation but just feel that you don’t really ‘get it’? Do you sit there searching for a Zen-like calm but within seconds you’re planning your shopping list or analysing the plot of last night’s telly programme?
You are not alone!
I too am challenged in the Zen department!

The Zen Challenge

Although I have a lot of experience with hypnosis I have only got into meditation very recently. In January I began practicing mindfulness with Leo Babauta’s Sea Change program, including a brief mindful meditation each morning. His Zen Habits blog also has plenty of tips and info about meditation. The Sea Change program suggests starting small; meditate for 5 minutes – or 2! But make it a daily habit. I decided to make my habit something I do upon waking up.  I’ve tried breathing, staring at a candle and chanting.
My mind still wandered a little though so then I experimented with listening to guided meditations. Leonie Dawson has a free meditation to listen to here Meditation for Healing.
Then I began going to meditation sessions at my local Buddhist centre. The centre I go to is a big house, not a temple. There is a community of about 8 Buddhists living there. They have a public classroom for meditation and a separate public cafe. The weekly classes include a talk, each one with a different theme. I’ve found it to be very relaxed and informal and it gives me plenty to mull over on the bus home.

Have you got it yet?

Finally, this week I tried using the Headspace Meditation App (a guided meditation and mindfulness app.) Take10 is their free meditation programme that gives you a taste of meditation in just 10 minutes a day for 10 days. Andy from Headspace says, “That’s less than 1% of your day, so even the busiest person can squeeze it in.” The important thing that I learned from this app was that I was trying too hard to meditate. I was sooo concentrating on getting it right and achieving something and doing it correctly – my mind wasn’t relaxed at all! So the blue sky animation really helped me to understand that even on a cloudy day – the blue sky (clear mind) is still there… “Rather than trying to create blue sky, a state of happiness and calm, it’s more a question of sort of setting up a deck chair in the back garden, just sitting back and waiting for the clouds to pass.”

Why bother?

Yes it’s something you learn slowly and progress with over time. So is it worth the effort? I stumbled upon this article Should Meditation be included in the Education of Our Youth?

“Now these students are doing light-years better. In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly.”

Meditation is not a quick-fix for my whole life, it is a new habit that I’m forming. But after years of not really ‘getting it’ I think it was Andy at Headspace who finally made me understand.

“Remember that idea of the blue sky, nothing to achieve, nothing to create, it’s all about stepping back and just allowing the mind to unwind, in it’s own time and in it’s own way.” Take 10 programme, from Headspace

Trying too hard

Are you trying too hard? Do you need to let go and just ‘be’? Who’da thought that chilling out could be this difficult?! What have you discovered when you tried meditation? Let me know in the comments below.

PS. I am not an affiliate of Headspace. I just like it!

Thanks to Frogarythm on Flickr for the meditation image.

Learn a quick and easy technique for appreciating the little things in life with this free 10 day e-course.

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REALLY excited about this…

life3DOn New Years Eve I began what has turned out to be an ongoing project for January. I’ve been completing the exercises in Leonie Dawson’s yearly best seller, The Create Your Amazing Year workbook: The Life Edition.

I cried

‘Releasing’ the year that has just ended, I cried. I wondered if that is because they are such powerful exercises, or because I had some BIG STUFF I had to let go of this year? It might have been the Prosecco I was drinking… My New Years Eve was a quiet but bubbly celebration, with just me and this colourful workbook. Despite the crying, it couldn’t have left me feeling more positive about the year ahead!

Just the parts that sing to you

Some of it may be a bit hippy for some but I found it to be a simple colourful bit of healthy ‘releasing’ the old and welcoming the new. I couldn’t think of 100 things to do in 2014, but that’s OK. Leonie says “Fill it all out or just the parts that sing to you, (either is perfect.)” There’s goal setting, dreaming, list-making and collage-creating. The thought-provoking exercises are fun.

It’s become something I’m working through bit by bit and I’ve found I really begun to look forward to each little evening session where I grab some time to quietly muse over my plans, dreams and schemes. You can’t help but feel cheerful about all the goal setting and the other creative exercises when it’s all painted in such crazy beautiful bright colours with cartoon stars all over it.

Little Miss Sunshine plans her amazing life!

Little Miss Sunshine plans her amazing life!

Leonie says,

“The 2014 Create Your Amazing Year workbook & calendar is an incredibly popular & useful tool to help you plan out & make happen your most incredible year in life or business (or both!). Over the last five years, thousands of women have used this workbook with the most amazing results. It’s the best planning tool available to help you make your year your most exceptional yet!

Used by entrepreneurs, artists, mamas, creatives, coaches, teachers and women of all ages, the Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Biz workbooks are filled with dozens of pages of powerful worksheets & a printable calendar to help you create your amazing new year.”

Peggy says,

“There’s also a business edition, in which I will create my amazing business for 2014 – so watch this space. I’ll be reviewing that one too!”

If you’re ready to make 2014 amazing check it out now! Create Your Amazing Year – Calendar and Workbook 2014

Create your amazing life

Leonie Dawson

How to appreciate the present moment

She finds hearts where ever she goes

My six year old daughter has a habit of discovering heart shapes wherever she goes: A stone picked up from the ground, a label on a supermarket shelf, or a heart shape found in the shape of a tree stump.

“Quick Mummy – take a picture!” she says. She’s been saying it since last summer. I saved all of the pictures and made them into a collage for her for Christmas. Children always have time to see beauty in the little things.

Try this:

Snap photos of the beautiful little things that you notice today. You can quickly and easily make a digital collage using Picasa.

Life is not a rehearsal

Steering in a lockI once met this character, we were both narrowboating alone. It was about eight in the morning and looking like drizzle. He had a denim waistcoat and long grey hair. He was bringing his boat down the lock. Mine was waiting on the bollards below the lock waiting to come up. He knew this before he saw my boat because of the windlass in my hand.

“Early start for me” he said.

I smiled and said,

“Where you headed today?”

“Oh I just carry on going until I get fed up. That’s just the way I am me. That’s what I’m like.”

He crossed the lock gate, windlass in hand and headed up to close the other gate.

“Life is not a rehearsal you know,” he called across the lock, grinning.

We worked the lock and he went on his way. Passing like ships in the flight.

“On your own?” he asked.

“No, it’s me and my husband and two kids.” I said. “My husband’s at work, the kids are at nursery, it’s easier to move the boat without them sometimes!”

He smiled, understanding.

“You can just get on with it.”

I love those moments when suddenly everything seems simple. Just carry on going until you get fed up. I love the way you can discover morsels of wisdom from a conversation with a stranger. Have you ever heard a cliché, like “Life is not a rehearsal,” but suddenly you hear it for the very first time? It was just an unexpected reminder to live in the moment. And for that moment, and for the next few locks, I did. I enjoyed the drizzle and the rain, the winding of paddles and the trees and the grass. I noticed the ripples on the water and a heron on a branch.

Just carry on going until you get fed up: my thought for the day.

When you’re sad, do this

Music equals happinessSadness, anxiety, loneliness and grief are the kind of stuff that movies are made of. Many years ago I used to have a friend, that as I lurched from tragedy to tragedy would console me with words in a soft Irish accent; “Honey don’t cry; it’s only a movie.”

She was mad of course and the last time I saw her she was hell-bent on a self-destructive cycle of violent alcoholism. But ever since then I liked the idea that my life could be a movie.

Action

Pretend your life is a movie. Direct it. Star in it. If the film is sad then wallow in it. But wallow in an enigmatic, charismatic way: For one scene. (Then cut to the next scene and make sure that one is different.)

Find one small prop that your main character would need. The red lipstick of a vampire, the long raincoat of a spy, a treasured hand-written note, or the cigarette of an action hero.  A charity shop may help to keep your movie budget down if you require a costume change.

Next, get a cool soundtrack. Try typing a movie title into an app or music website like Last.fm and then do the dishes to the soft mournful sounds of your own incidental music. Or wash the car to angry guitar music. A crescendo of classical music will suit many of life’s tragedies. You are a bunch of universe-atoms experiencing what it feels like to feel that chosen emotion right here, right now.

It’s all about you baby. What genre is your movie? What is it called? Are you ready to reassess where you’re at right now?