Lately, I have been wondering… what is truly important? There are a lot of things we may value…maybe it is our career, our family, our life purpose, and how we add something precious to this world. Or maybe for some of us it is just about living day to day and moment to moment because that is just where we are right now. Sometimes life can be exciting and full of incredible moments of elation and triumph and sometimes life can seem painful and sorrowful.
There are moments in our lives when all we can do is get through to the next day and there are times when we never want the day to end because things are going that well. Still further, sometimes striving to have a balance between the two polarities can be our greatest challenge.
The older I get, the more I realize there is so much that I really don’t understand, nor do I have answers. So many of us go through so many different shades of color in our lives that it is difficult to determine the answers of how to live our best life. For everyone it is different. What I do know for sure is that there are unlimited ways to perceive life and in this web of existence we have choices.
Sometimes, our choices seem limited and sometimes we are elated with the unlimited possibilities. What I have come to understand is that as we look at life and the many ways to experience ourselves it becomes critical to create a partnership with our minds.
I realized this mostly when my children were young. Depending on what was happening in their lives I always wanted to help make something better. I always tried to make the best of experiences and what we were given being there for them in every way I could. Sometimes, my efforts paid off and my children thrived and other times no matter what I did or how I framed the experience it was bound to work out less than I had anticipated. And when things didn’t work out, I tended to blame myself or something else. Eventually, I realized that neither of these two ways of looking at the world was helpful.
I had an inkling within me that what I was doing was not very helpful, but I did not know how to help this pattern. Until one day, I just stumbled on an advertisement for meditation. The people meditating looked happy. They looked peaceful and content. Something I wanted for myself but was ever so difficult to attain. So, I decided to try it out.
I’ll never forget the first time I attempted to meditate. I thought I was supposed to sit and just be… hoping that by staying quiet, sitting quietly, and through shear concentration I could train myself to make my thoughts leave and my mind. Boy was I wrong. I found the opposite to be true. My thoughts became louder, the ‘to do’ list became longer, and the unfinished things that raced in my psyche just went on and on and on… like a freight train that just keeps going and going and going. It was relentless and irritatingly frustrating to say the least.
I gave up many times. Many, many times. I just didn’t understand why people could speak about meditation and how it helped them so much. I felt like such a failure. It just made things worse for me. Then I enrolled in a meditation class. I walked into a studio and paid them cash that day hoping that if I did what they told me it would all just go away, and I would get the answers. And it helped, it didn’t cure my mindless activity, but it did help me begin to understand what was happening. I discovered how our thoughts are an endless culmination of three aspects of the mind. The negative, neutral, and positive mind. That we have a negative mind; useful in protection and alerting us to something that is wrong or a threat. We have a positive mind; useful in expanding a thought into possibilities instead of contrasting it into limitation and lastly, we have a neutral mind; helpful in deciphering the positive and the negative in relation to where we are now and what we choose our experience to become. As we develop ourselves through meditation, we become aware of our positive and negative mind eventually finding the neutrality of it all by becoming aware of what we have been doing. Then we realize we have choices on how we would like to shape our lives within our current states of awareness.
Then I learned about breath work. Practicing control of the breath through meditation. As I learned and practiced more, I found that breath work controlled our life force. The more I learned about breathing and how to control the different states of my breath the more I could control the different states of awareness within my mind. Thus, I could choose the expansiveness of my energy. Through breath awareness I could stimulate and enhance my energy thus adding more control to my thoughts, my energy, my reality.
Then I found mudras and mantras. I discovered that mantras are words or phrases that can be repeated aloud or to oneself with the rhythm of the breath, and mudras are the use of the hands to focus the brain. I was skeptical at first, and the more I practiced I was surprised at how much better I felt, the lasting effects of the practices and the simplicity of it all. I began to understand the helpfulness of my negative and positive minds and the innate ability of my neutral mind to intuitively focus. I was amazed at how a simple practice of strengthening the breath, using mudras to stimulate the brain, and mantras creating a rhythm of internal wisdom within my body could create lasting effects. I was hooked, to say the least.
Limiting beliefs haunting me for ages began to melt away, my energy returned, and my outlook on life improved. What did I learn? Life could change. I had some sort of control and that I could shape my reality. And I never needed to censor my thoughts, I needed to find the right practice for me.
If you are innately curious… I invite you to try a meditation class or practice at some point in your life. I just happen to teach a couple at Trillium Yoga in Antioch, periodically. Here are some dates… 5:45-6:45pm on 4/24, 5/8, & 5/22. OR try the online zoom meditation Wednesdays at lunch time… all you have to do is sign up at eventbrite here. I hope to see you soon!