Here it comes again. That feeling of being watched, overwhelmed and afraid. It’s daylight, but you feel it watching from the corner across the room. Stress. Anxiety. However you look at it, it is scaring the bejeezus out of you. But that’s OK because I’m going to fill you in on a HUGE secret. We all get freaked out. I am starting a new job, I just moved, my baby is starting high school, and my middle guy is leaving for college. In the middle of Nowhere…remember Courage the Cowardly Dog and that farmhouse…yeah? Well, then you get the idea. And my stress is most assuredly sitting in that window of the stakeout house. It’s waiting for the prime opportunity to jump me. But I’ll be ready.
It’s no secret that I am a student of Zen and meditation. I NEED that serenity in my life, and I have just learned about an excellent type of meditation called Shamatha. It means peaceful meditation. Why am I telling you this? Because I know the dark, ugly truth. Those of you who meditate or lose yourself in exercise ( the same idea really) begin with the intention of relaxation. Me too. So here is last night’s moment of elucidation.
Picture this: I have unpacked a bit more in my new abode. It’s night; the kids are in their rooms meditating over video games and hubby has gone over to a friend. The house is MINE. So I dim the light, sit lotus style on the sofa and begin to breathe. AAHH, yes, entering the “Zen Zone.” And then it happens. I remember the laundry waiting in the dryer and that I forgot to send that e-mail for my daughter’s scholarship. I wonder if hubby has printed the boarding passes for his flight. Nd on it goes. Now I’m doubly stressed, and no candles, breathing or random counting will calm me down.
Solution: Shamatha. I’ve just finished an online workshop with an awesomely flexible guru (I’ll stick to crisscross applesauce, thanks) and this method of meditation is over 2600 years old. That’s a good track record. Buddha (not my Deity but I like his processes) taught this meditation as a way to focus on the breath to become more present and awake. A lot of people today call it “mindfulness meditation.” You know I’m all about mindfulness folks. One of the seminars showed research that this type of meditation not only allows for better relaxation but boosts your immune system and presents better sleep cycles. Yup, this is just what I need…a little disconnect.
Meditation in any form, is a way to get some space in your head and life. You can experience a free, floating, creative joy, or stressful, neurotic thoughts. You need to learn to simply “be,” and you will be doing the following for your stressed out, scared self.
- Focusing on something calming: Assuming you’re using this time-honored practice, focusing on your breathing, a candle, a dot on the wall … this act is the beginning of meditation. It is a way to relax and calm your inner self. Think about this for a sec – when you start meditating, you are almost gasping, pushing your breath, over exaggerating to hear it. But, as you get into the zone, your breathing is deeper, elongated, relaxed. So ride your relaxed breath like a surf bunny rides the wave. Cool, calm and focused.
- Stop acting on the “go go go” impulse: Meditation is a brilliant way to reveal life in alternative ways. Perhaps as you are “Ohm”-ing you will see in the distance the solution to that crazy problem at work. Let it flow. I mean it. DO NOT get up to write it down, just sit there. Stay present and focused and learn a little impulse control. It’s a great habit, I promise.
- Let all your stress “rise” and then let it fall, dissolving into puddles of calm. OK, so I’m pushing it, but you get the point. When stressful emotions or thoughts pop up, we must acknowledge them. Give them a little bit of credence, let them say hi, but then note them, and let go. Return your focus to the meditation and breathe. Neuroses are not worth it.
So lovelies, while you may not agree with me about meditation and mindful living, you know that you have stress. We all do, and it can be a killer. A consistent habit of meditation or exercise lets you focus and make some space in your head. Some of that stress dissipates, and you can crawl out from under that boulder. So I ask you, what do you have to lose by trying it? Zippo.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!