Now, when you’re on vacation with three other people in a hotel room and on the go most of the day, it’s hard to find a quiet place to meditate in the traditional sense. I’m not comfortable assuming the lotus position, hands resting on my knees and maintaining blissful obliviousness while chaos reigns around me. (I saw a man doing this once in the women’s shoe department of Lord & Taylor. I was impressed and amused. How the heck did he maintain such amazing focus? More importantly, if he could teach that focus to other men stuck in the shoe department with their significant others, he’d be revered as a guru.)
Because I was on the go and had little to no privacy, I meditated wherever and whenever I could. At the pool, when I put down my magazine and closed my eyes, I focused on the sounds around me. In the car, when I could have lost it and made tensions worse, I was silent and breathed. While I was getting a facial, I focused on the smells and sensations. When a thought tried to intrude, it was quickly labeled “past” or “future” and sent on its way.
Each meditation technique I’ve practiced over the past four weeks, Watching Your Breath, Naked Sound Meditation, Noting Body Sensations, and This Magic Moment, came to my rescue when I needed it. At first, I felt frustrated that I couldn’t meditate the same way I did at home. It didn’t take me long to realize, however, that my meditation practice isn’t meant to be rigid – I’m not training with the Olympic meditation team here. Using the technique that worked, at the moment it was needed, reduced my stress and kept me calm. Once I was calm, relaxation was a short step away and I was able to really enjoy the rough and tumble of all that togetherness. We had a great time!
Week five in the book is dedicated to “Gracious Declining” meditation. The focus is on easily recognizing and stopping rambling thought streams. This is a quick outline of the process:
1. Find a comfortable position, upright, but not tense.
2. Set your timer to eight minutes.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Allow your body to relax and rest your attention on your breath.
5. When a thought wafts through your mind, visualize it as an “uninvited salesperson, knocking on your door.”
6. Be aware that the thought is demanding your attention, but you can graciously decline to grant it that attention and send it on its way.
7. Return your attention to your breath. When another thought comes knocking, recognize it as uninvited and again, graciously decline and send it on its way.
I’m finding as the weeks go on that I’m falling into whatever technique works for me at the moment. I feel I’ve learned a lot and the program is only half completed! Please let me know how it’s been going for you and specifically how you’ve applied what you’ve learned to the reality of your everyday life.
Survival > Existence,