Seeking the Internal
“The well balanced life is the outcome of volition – not negotiation and cannot be attained in a moment.” ~ Henry Chellew
How many times have you heard the ubiquitous call to meditation; Sit with your eyes closed or lower your gaze towards the floor and follow the breath? It’s meant to prepare you but for many sets off a twinge of frustration and feeling of failure. I often hear, “I can’t do this! The thoughts won’t stop!” So what do you do?
In our modern times, being in meditation – observing the mind – is thwarted by distraction. Our society is built upon distractions. Mortgage, bills, job, loans, sports, concerts, activities, stuff and so many more fill our minds, hearts and spirits if we are not careful. This couples with the fact that we are actively living a multi dimensional existence in the past, present and future.
How can we reach a state beyond all of the distractions? As the psychologist Henry Chellew spoke to above, a balanced life starts with volition or the will. When we tap into our free will and exercise our desire the opportunity will be created. Free will is every human’s gift or ability which can stretch you beyond the distractions if you so chose.
Will and Cycles
Tapping into a will to change for just a moment can be quite simple. It is holding onto this ‘will’ long enough to move through all that comes with a change that proves more difficult. If you are prone to being hard on yourself you may find that the desire to change gets drawn into your habitual ways.
What we must realize is that relapse or falling back into your cycle is part of healing. If you try to meditate for three minutes before the incessant to-do’s interrupt. Congratulations! You sat still for three minutes! It is not a failure. It is the beginning of a process.
Now, are you at a point where you want to do something differently? Have you become aware of patterns of behavior that no longer serve you? Hold on to that observation and use it as fuel to harness your will!
Before you Start…
Ask yourself, Why do I want to meditate/be mindful or aware? You may think to yourself, “I should meditate” or “I know, I should do yoga.” When we are in the ‘shoulds’ we are not speaking from our individual volition.
Maintain conversation with yourself about why you are doing what you are doing, thinking what you are thinking so you may be in line with you. Do not settle for the way meditation is defined to you instead understand what you are looking for within the meditation.
1. Meet the Mind
For most people starting a meditation practice by sitting with legs crossed – eyes closed – hands on knees is difficult. If the modern mind is this active arena of thought and distraction why don’t we meet it where it is to start the process of meditation?
What activities do you do in a day that could offer thoughtful awareness? Do you wash dishes? Do you commute to work? How about walking, running or swimming? These all offer times for reflection on thought without attachment to emotion.
2. Use your Senses
Moving towards awareness and passed the thoughts or into a nonjudgmental observation of thought can be found by following your gifted senses.
– Listen – While doing a common activity, just listen. That is it. Just listen to what is at a far distance from you or the sound of your own breath.
– Taste – When eating focus only on the taste. Roll the food inside your mouth and across your tongue taking in the full experience of taste.
– Smell – Go outside for a walk and breathe in the smells around you. Get close to flowers and plants and even dirt to take in the various smells in your world. While cooking take in the fragrance of different ingredients individually and when they combine to form balanced nourishment.
– Look – Focus, with curiosity, on the images you see while doing whatever activity you enjoy.
– Touch – Use the conventional way of touching by exploring with the actions of the hands. Or, work towards a deeper feeling and sensing with your whole body. While walking outside take notice of how the sun feels on your skin or the winds ability to move even the tiniest hairs on your arm.
3. Get Grounded
Grounding practices help us outsmart the energetic power of the mind/thoughts and emotions while settling us within a sense of belonging.
– Go for a walk in grass barefoot. Green grass – the color associated with our heart center -offers unconditional love. If you need more direction try walking slowly in the grass. Inhale step with your left foot, exhale step with right foot. Focus on the sensation of the blades of grass on your feet and the breath.
– Breathe in the smell of earth –We associate dirt with unsanitary conditions but it is through dirt that our nourishment grows. Connecting to that brings a sense of calm. The smell of dirt, a thriving jungle or anything else wild that catches your eye also provides this grounding through the sense of smell.
– Sit with the natural world – Whether it is a tree, flower, weed or rock sit with the flora, fauna or mineral of our world. This may sound a bit out there but try speaking to it. Tell him or her, within your mind or out loud, three things you observe and appreciate about it. For example; you are anchored into the ground strongly which allows you to grow tall and sway with the winds that come. As you walk through an area look around for something to catch your eye and follow that instinct.
– Breathe – Taking a deep breath is like a reset button for our nervous system. Place your feet firmly on the ground. Inhale through your nose while expanding your belly to look like you just had a huge dinner then exhale through your nose pulling your belly back in.
There is not one way to seek for the internal. I see the goal as reaching the opportunity for defenseless self-inquiry or a space where you begin to truly see yourself and then beyond yourself. Try one of these or all as a step towards this or define your own goal for the practice. Remember a meditation practice or the journey to awareness does not need to be forced through seated mediation. Call upon your volition and meet the active mind where it is to nourish awareness. Be patient and kind to yourself.
This entry is borrowed from a blog found at www.lotusspiral.com