The “M” Word
Do you meditate? Seems like a simple enough question but I have found that this question, or more specifically the word meditation, frequently evokes an intense response from some of my clients. I usually ask this question with new past-life regression clients simply so I can gauge their experience with visualization. Knowing if a client has ever meditated before helps me determine the best hypnosis techniques to use during the session. Clients who are frequent meditators versus clients who have never meditated require different approaches.
Often, there is an energy shift in the room when I bring up the “M” word and, equally as interesting, there is a continuum of answers. On one end, the response is, “Yes, every day!” While on the other end, the response is, “No, never.” However, the most common answer goes something like, “Yes, but I don’t meditate nearly enough,” or “Sometimes, and I know I should be meditating more.” People seem to carry guilt about how much they think they should be meditating. As much as I explain that meditation is not a pre-requisite for a successful regression or hypnosis session, there still seems to be an air of unnecessary self-judgement around personal meditation practices or lack thereof.
In the last few years, there has no doubt been a rise in dialogue about the positive benefits of meditation for physical, mental and spiritual health. Even Western medicine has acknowledged that stress reducing activities such as meditation or other relaxation methods improve overall health. Unfortunately, there seems to be an unexpected, negative side-effect by those who find traditional meditation practices challenging or unrewarding.
It’s not that people don’t want to be more relaxed and calm, and to quiet their minds. Sadly, instead many people end up feeling like failures if they perceive they aren’t meditating correctly. These feelings of failure lead to feelings of guilt and unworthiness, and what was originally supposed to be a positive experience has now had the opposite effect. Furthermore, meditation is often seen as an extra task for which there is not enough time to fit into many people’s overwhelmingly busy lives.
Fortunately, meditation is not a one-size-fits-all practice and there are so many simple ways to turn everyday tasks into meditative moments! Even five minutes of focusing your attention on only one thing as a way of becoming calm and relaxed can have huge instant benefits on the mind, body, and soul. Here is a simple way to utilize everyday tasks as meditation.
First, choose a task. Use these three questions to help you determine something you are already doing that can also be meditative.
1. What is an activity you don’t mind making time for, that doesn’t feel like another chore or task on your to-do list? (Examples: walking the dog, listening to music, or yoga)
2. What is a daily task you need to do? (Examples: washing dishes, cooking, folding laundry)
3. When do you have moments of alone time? (Examples: taking a shower/bath, drinking your morning coffee, driving to work)
Next, introduce meditation (focused attention) into the task. Take three deep breaths before beginning the task to signal the brain of your intention to become fully present. Use all of your senses to fully experience the feelings and details that arise from completing the task. For example, if you are washing the dishes listen to the sounds of the sponge as you scrub and feel how the water touches your hands. Is the water cold or hot? Breathe in the scent of the dish detergent. Notice the repetition of washing and rinsing and sync your breath to these rhythmic motions. Allow yourself to hyper focus on the entire process as if nothing else is happening around you.
When the activity is over, ground the experience. Mark the completion of a successful meditative moment with a simple mantra. Say to yourself, “It is done. It is done. It is done.”
You can apply these techniques to almost any task. Here are a few more suggestions: Time your breathing with the back-and-forth movement of vacuuming. Sync your breath to your footsteps when taking a walk. Put on headphones to listen to a favorite song so you can connect with the lyrics and melodies on a deeper level, allowing yourself to feel every note. While showering, picture the water cleansing away any energies, emotions or thoughts that don’t serve your highest good. Even listening to a favorite podcast or book-on-tape while driving to work can be meditative.
Meditation does not have to be quieting the mind and sitting silently in “om” state for thirty minutes. On a basic physical level, the purpose of meditation is to rest and recover from stress. When you turn daily tasks into meditative moments, not only do you decrease stress, but you also create opportunities to develop daily mindful practices. What a great way to honor your time and your sense of wellbeing!