As a mom of three trying to build a writing career and finish a novel, I consider turning to all kinds of de-stressors... vodka, kick-boxing, running away... instead, I have found that meditation is the cheapest and easiest (yes, easy) solution to quiet the chaos.
Meditation: (n.) The act of deliberate focus, on nothing, or anything. Clearing the "chitta" (mind space) to make room for new impressions, experiences and sometimes if you so choose, a vehicle for sending and creating energies to be released or given back.
Right... I totally made that up, but it sounds legitimate, no?
Recently my daughter asked me: "How do you really meditate? It's seems weird! I mean, how do I literally do it?"
Presented with a question like this, I get giddy! Translating something seemingly obscure with deep descriptions, but simplifying it makes me happy.
It went something like this:
It's like the mind is a blank white board, with a fresh start every morning. Then, life "happens." Adults encounter moods, people, stress, news, work, the long list of "to do's" and all the underlying emotional stuff on top of it. The "board" gets scribbled on and covered until no white is left! The point is to breathe deeply, sit in your own quiet to clear the board, wash it over, and erase the noise. What is the negative? You waste five minutes? I do that on social media daily.
How To Meditate (or at least my subjective suggestions):
1. Find a quiet place to sit, lay or be in lotus position.
2. Try to set aside a five or 10-minute block of time (increase to 20-90 minutes as you improve).
3. However you are positioned, close your eyes and try to think of nothing, soften your eyelids, feel your eyes get heavy in their sockets. Let your facial expressions melt into a calm. Relax even your tongue, feel it heavy and lay at the base of your mouth.
4. Stay in that quiet as long as you can.
Easy right? Nope! Not If your mind keeps reminding that you're hungry, or your foot is falling asleep, preschool sign-up is tomorrow... etc. So let me get specific because just getting kid-free, work-free space is near impossible. So here are some other options I love and actually benefit more from:
-- Find cool ambient or chanting music. I Love "Breath of the Heart" by Krishna Das, but go find whatever fits you, there are so many commercialized "meditative collections" available these days.
-- I took a suggestion from Buddha. He recommends we try to smile with every single part of the body starting with your forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, throat, ribs, heart, tummy, hips, thighs, knees, all the way to your toes. Usually, I'm beaming after this, simple exercises... and it takes about 8-10 minutes depending on how detailed you get. Try it!
-- Make a gratitude list. In that moment, in your quiet inner-voice, focus on all things you are grateful for. For me, depending on the day, it's each of my children's health, loved ones, shelter, faith, humor, vacation, good support... etc. You can be esoteric or specific, its all good if from gratitude.
-- Align your "chakras" (see color descriptions) by visualizing each color as a sphere of light and then "igniting" each one. I, personally, picture them individually swirling cloud-like energy of light streams (like an aurora borealis).
When you start to balk at 10 minutes or do not feel revived yet, remind your self that it takes practice. Go through the above, as best you can, and then when it's quite, stay there... in that weird, strange, and beautiful place. This quiet when your thoughts evaporate and your mind feel blank. For fun, try to find your "third eye" or if that's too hokey... just be. See what pops up. Acknowledge it, and then let it go like a cloud you blow away or a thought passing on a conveyor belt.
Skip the below "color descriptions of chakras" if it feels to hokey, but like I tell my kids (two of them now meditate), take what makes sense to you and drop the rest.
RED: (your tailbone) Grounding, instincts, and your place here in reality (e.g., poopy diapers, fights with friends, work, and the specific feel of the ground on my sacrum. Things that tether you to your life).
ORANGE: (your pelvic cavity, reproductive organs, lower abdomen) the emotional, "visceral" energy source. How you feel, how "things" feel, basically the emotional temperature in this moment.
YELLOW: (your upper stomach, to lower chest area) this is your energy level, high, low, positive, negative. I often picture it spinning to build momentum.
GREEN: (your chest, ribcage, heart, lungs up to lower neck) this is all heart, baby! Love of self, family, people, all things that your heart and soul has a sweet attachment to. I love to sit in this space more than others. Beam some love out... to whoever pops up.
BLUE: (your throat, lower neck, to chin) this is where truth and honesty, however you define them, can be focused on. For me, this energy color swirls around like a scarf to keep me honest, authentic, and in touch with the deepest level of being. The undeniable, the stuff you can't hide from when in your own head. It is self-awareness and acceptance, including the "ugly bits."
PURPLES -- all shades (your chin to top of scalp and above). This is your intuition of thoughts, your awareness outside yourself, the calm knowing, the precognitive, the connection to everything bigger, be it God, or the universe, or merely a collective energy of thoughts and all that will be, was, and exists now.
It's a learned skill like anything, it takes practice, letting go of whatever you think it should be, and just making it yours.