As you can tell by now, I tend to use the term "meditation" very loosely around here. In part, this is because I believe in the practice so passionately that I want everyone to feel like they can at least try it. Think of it as exercise without the sweat. Mental exercise. Spiritual exercise. You just have to start with small steps and find what works best for you personally.
Whether you are looking to achieve a higher state of consciousness, increase self-awareness or simply become more relaxed and peaceful, meditation is worth a shot. Trust me - I'm a doctor. Okay, we both know that I'm not a doctor. But trust me anyway.
One thing to try is focusing on a mantra. Put simply, a mantra can be a sound, a syllable, a word or group of words. There are many mantras with special meanings for various meditations.
That said, even an everyday phrase such as "Thank You" can be used as a mantra.
Just saying this one simple phrase over and over can take you to a different place of awareness. Its repeated utterance can transform thought and feeling.
When I first wake up in the morning (still in bed but awake) I repeat to myself, "Thank you...thank you... thank you...thank you..." again and again and again.
It's a time of gratitude which is not consciously or intellectually focused on being thankful for a specific list of things. And yet, it has meaning and feeling. I just am thankful in that moment.
As I repeat the words "thank you," I take slow but gradually deeper and deeper breaths. Although I typically talk about breathing as a way to relax, these breaths are actually filled with energy... preparing my consciousness and providing me with the vitality I will need to start the day.
Throughout the day, Thank You is my "magic word." (Okay, technically two words.) I say it a LOT and I find the phrase really has a way of moving me closer to center, even when life is pretty crazy.
Of course, I say it to other people. My kids would tell you that I am a stickler for "thank you" as it pertains to the good manners department.
However, I also say it quite a bit when I'm alone. On my way to work, I say "thank you" every time I get a green light. At lunch, right before I take my first bite. I say "thank you" to the sun. I say "thank you" when there's none. I say it when I avoid a jam. I am thankful, YES I AM! (Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week...)
Slightly off topic from meditation perhaps, but I want to share my favorite "thank you" moment of the day:
My son is four years old now and luckily still lets me snuggle him in the rocking chair just before it's time to sleep. This is a child who believes he is Spider-Man, so any moment when he's awake and not climbing the walls is a bonus.
I appreciate the bedtime snuggle more than you can imagine. Sometimes I sing softly but mostly I just repeat over and over, "thank you, thank you, thank you."
At this moment in particular my expression of gratitude is far from an "exercise." It's almost involuntary. The words literally overflow from my heart with the love and appreciation I feel in my soul for this thriving little boy.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had four miscarriages; including my "forever changing" experience of seeing the heartbeat of a baby boy I was carrying just be.... gone.
After that when I was finally pregnant again, my mantra was please live. "Please baby...just live. Keep that heart beating. Please just live." Those were the words I repeated over and over, every day for nine months until "Spider-Man" was delivered safely into the world.
To this day, when I rock him before bed... I feel the same intensity of emotion. Yet, my feelings are with gratitude that he did live, even against the odds. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I feel like I could never say it enough.
The reality is we're all lucky to be here, alive on this earth. We are all miracles.
And I am so very lucky that you are here with me, reading my thoughts and stories; supporting me and helping me as I hope I am helping you.