My thoughts come from every side, like enraged bees they sting from every direction. I feel like a lake in the midst of a hurricane, without a moment of tranquility anywhere near the surface. But there’s a secret, the truth and secret behind meditation is that even though the surface might be in turmoil, there’s a place below the waves where the water is calm, visibility is clear, and you can find peace, even in the midst of that hurricane.
Here, we let our mind drift, a lot of people find that peace through clearing their mind, and they find that when they stop struggling to swim, they sink very naturally there below. But then there are the rest of us, from tossed wave to crashing wave, it takes too much time, too much effort, and too much thought to reach that thoughtless state. For us it helps to have a guide, someone who knows the lake, can hold your hand, help you breathe, and take you down to a place where you don’t have to fight so hard to find that peace that will help you concentrate, and help you think.
Come with me as we take our first steps towards this state of mind, below conscious thought. One of the first things that might help is to remember to breathe, not the hyperventilation we are used to, but intentional and planned breathing. I breathe out, I pause for a moment, then I consciously breathe in using my stomach if I can, gently hold that breathe for a short pause, breathe out, hold that, then breathe in. Through this kind of circular breathing you will find the world around you slow down, the bees are still there, the waves are still crashing, but they are doing that above you and there’s no more need to think about them. Simply breathe, for some it helps to count, Breathe in, two three, breathe out, two, three… if you have the lung capacity give it a little more time and relax into it. Not consciously but let it happen.
Another thing that helps to bring us down to that moment of peace is for us to let go. Let go of the stress, it’s tied into your joints, and while you breath we’re going to let go of each joint, all of the unconscious strain we hold onto needs to drift away. Some people hold their stress in their shoulders, some in their backs, some in their stomachs, and some … in their hats. As you continue to breathe, let’s start with your feet. Consciously relax your feet, first one, and then the other. You might find that you exhale deeply here, letting that stress fall away and pour out of you, imagining bubbles floating away as you breathe in tranquility and peace, filling your joints with this cultivated sensation.
Now your knees, I feel that you and I so easily keep stress in our knees, the muscles that hold us together, need that conscious thought, that literal exhale, that gentle and peaceful relaxation that comes when you reach through your body with your mind and give your muscles in your legs permission to release. This conscious effort continues as you breathe so peacefully, moving up to your hips, your backside, and even your front side. All of the stress flowing out with your exhale as you purposefully relax these muscles, letting the muscles you’ve already let go of relax further with every exhale, breathing in fresh stress free air.
Here I want you to relax your stomach muscles, we often spend the day holding these muscles in, worrying how the world might see us, but here, in this moment, there’s no reason for such vanity, like a vice holding your anxiety in these muscles from your tummy to your lower back need to be released, like physically releasing some steel clamps that hold you trapped, take a deep breathe, let it go, sigh, relax, breathe, and feel that little extra peace.
Moving upwards to your chest and your back as you take a deep breath… hold it, bask in it, enjoy it, let it float through you and as you breathe out, let your tension flow with it. Your shoulders don’t need that tension right now, let them fall, and with every exhale let them fall, give a pause in your breathing and let your hands release, from your toes, from your fingertips, and from your lips the stress and toxic emotions flow out freely, finding the still calm waters that lay deep inside you, focus on nothing and simply breathe, let it out, let it in, and let each and every movement inspire your body to a greater and greater sense of relaxation. Let your eyebrows release, let your eyelids fall, even let your stress bank near your ears go as you exhale slowly and release the hold you have on the muscles there.
Last of all you let your scalp, your face muscles, and the rest of your face relax, here in the heart of serenity your mind moves faster, let it dance from one though to another, do not hold onto any specific thought, let them flow in and out of you freely with the calm and centered movement of your breathing. Imagine the calm lakebed, at this depth the water moves slowly little water plants sway back and forth with the movement of your breathing, muscles relax, the weight of the day is taken away by this cool and calming water. Every muscle relaxing with each breath, not holding onto any thought but letting them drift through you, easy and relaxed… peaceful tranquility.
Bask in this feeling, bask in this moment of relaxation and peace, and let’s breathe, slowly exhale let your body deflate with this breathe out, pause, be empty, and inhale let your body inflate, but keep your muscles relaxed. Pause for a second, just be at peace, and let the breath out.
When you feel the desire, open your eyes, slowly rising upwards, but keeping the peace that you find in the deep. Keep breathing steady and look at the stress and the chaos around you with new eyes, eyes that see the tranquility below the water. There is peace there, and you can keep with you. Be at peace.