A Quiet Beginning- Meditation

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.

Close to the Heart

Happy a Valentine’s Day!!

Honestky I’ve gone through the day going through the motions. It’s a happy day. The children and I laughed and played but I never took the time to care or actually conceptualists what kind of day it is. All across Instagram I watch as mothers celebrate their love for their kids by decorating the doors, setting up colorful balloon booby traps that practically scream ‘you’re important!’ While I took the kids to the door the other day, pointed to the candy aisle, and said “go pick your favorite!” It’s not the same and on other years I went further out of my way, but this year I felt none of the drive and perhaps they didn’t actually care. I don’t think they preferred a candy bar bouquet to a simple bag of their choice.

It makes me wonder though … they may not care much, but when it is their time to serve their children will they celebrate as offhandedly and simply throw the child down the candy aisle? What level of responsibility do I have to show the girls how to make the world a special and decorated place?   How much more can I push the limits of failing at the little things as a parent? I admit I don’t fail at the big things, but these finishing touches may leave a few rough edges I simply can’t reach on my own.

A Hallmark holiday that simply means, to us, that the strawberries are going to be the freshest they’ll be all year round in the grocery store. And for that we celebrate.

A Little Fever

Even though I have a nightly routine, no night is routine.

We take our time to talk individually about what is on our minds, what challenges we face, and where we can do better, and where we can do worse. It’s not easy, so we do it together despite having to do it all alone.

But there are nights like tonight where I feel drowned. Some nights I just feel too much. It’s been a long day, some days are like that. But it’s been an emotional day too. I hate to see my children sick, and today my youngest has had a fever that exhausts her little body. We’ve cuddled and napped, feeling the pain of fever contort the muscles in my back I’ve held her as we watched tv. Getting nothing done as I focus on being where I need to be.

The scales aren’t balanced or fair though. The middle children feel jealous of that singular attention even knowing why and agreeing with it, there’s still that primal feeling of being left behind, which I work on. We discuss and we all cuddle a little before bed, but I worry to think which one might be the next sick and hurting one.

This is where my mind is as I think of being alone, the children asleep and my heart exhaustsed. I think of how I’d like to soak in the tub but don’t have the energy to turn on the water. Laying like a discarded blanket across the foot of my bed as my daughter burns through the sheets. Sleep tramples across the night and I drift away like a lonely guard on night watch.