For years, I resisted meditation. In fact, I can recall a time when I told a friend something like, “I’m just going to be quiet for a little while to clear my mind,” to which she responded, “Oh, you’re going to meditate?” and I was quick to correct her “No, no! I’m not going to meditate! I’m just going to be still for a little while.” Mmmmmkay. Yep, I know what you’re thinking — kind of the same thing, right? But I had big hangups around meditation, so I couldn’t get myself enrolled in the idea of meditation, or at least what I had made that word mean.
Sometimes, when we hear the word “meditation” we think of someone sitting in lotus pose, chanting “om” and keeping their mind devoid of all thought. Well, if you have an active mind like me, that form of meditation can be very challenging and even a bit frustrating. Fortunately, there are many forms of meditation and when you find the one(s) that resonate with you, you can quickly discover that meditation is not only easy, it’s fun and delightful!
Personally, I like a meditation that gives my mind something relaxing to do, or at the very least, gives it the freedom to roam and wander.
Practicing “mindfulness” is an active form of meditation, during which you are meditating while doing things you need to do anyway. For example, you can practice being mindful as you wash dishes, fold laundry, prepare a meal, eat, shower, etc. One of my favorite quotes is:
Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
I love the show “Survivor” (my one reality TV indulgence!) and one of the things I enjoy about it is the fact that even though they are playing a game for $1MM, and even though they are constantly alert and aware of strategy and the social element of the game, and even though they are tired and weary from a lack of food and rest, they still must fetch water and tend to the fire and cook their daily allotment of rice. In my mind, it keeps a certain ‘real’ element to the reality of the show.
Even in our modern technology-driven lifestyles, we must shop for food, consume meals, clean our clothing, and tend to our homes. But so often, our minds are completely elsewhere during the process. We’re yakking on the phone, texting, thinking of what we must do next, listening to TV or talk radio or music, etc.
But what if you were to simply practice being mindful during these mundane daily tasks?
Since I began this practice, some of my most profitable ideas have come while I was folding laundry or taking a shower. My intellect gets a break as I choose to focus on the task at hand. While folding laundry, I notice the feel of each piece of fabric in my hand, I notice any stray threads (while NOT feeling the need to trim or snip them), I let thoughts come and go (usually along the lines of how the children have grown, or how the middle one is now wearing the oldest one’s favorite outfits, or memories that were made over where the item was purchased, or something we may have done while wearing it, etc.) and I have no agenda. I don’t talk on the pone, I don’t text, I don’t think about what I have to do next, I don’t fly through it and do a half-ass job, I just sit and fold and hang the laundry.
And because my mind is at rest during this, wonderful ideas will often pop in most unexpectedly. And as a result, I find laundry folding to be relaxing and therapeutic, as opposed to a dreaded weekly burden.
Get the gist of it?
Food for thought:
What do you need to do today that you could actively choose to do more mindfully?
OK, now go for it. And join me for part 2 where I’ll show you my another of my favorite “alternative meditation methods.”