Meditation

The past few months have been a bit hectic for me (hence the lack of tweeting and blog posting). I was finishing up my course at Oxford which included writing a case study, doing my last few weeks of course study, turning in a rated recording of a session and then finally writing my dissertation. In addition, we had to plan and go on a holiday back to the States to visit my family, which was lovely, but which also does include some stress (especially as we missed one flight due to major storms in Atlanta). Happily, it’s all finished! I’ll talk a bit more about my dissertation at another time, but I thought I’d share the meditation that I used throughout to remain calm and which helped remind me to live in the moment and let the little stuff just ‘float on by’.

 

The leaves on the stream meditation is one that I teach many of my clients and which I’ve posted about before, but I think it’s worth sharing again:

(1) Sit in a comfortable position and either close your eyes or rest them gently on a fixed spot in the room.

(2) Visualize yourself sitting beside a gently flowing stream with leaves floating along the surface of the water. Pause 10 seconds.

(3) For the next few minutes, take each thought that enters your mind and place it on a leaf… let it float by. Do this with each thought – pleasurable, painful, or neutral. Even if you have joyous or enthusiastic thoughts, place them on a leaf and let them float by.

(4) If your thoughts momentarily stop, continue to watch the stream. Sooner or later, your thoughts will start up again. Pause 20 seconds.

(5) Allow the stream to flow at its own pace. Don’t try to speed it up and rush your thoughts along. You’re not trying to rush the leaves along or “get rid” of your thoughts. You are allowing them to come and go at their own pace.

(6) If your mind says “This is dumb,” “I’m bored,” or “I’m not doing this right” place those thoughts on leaves, too, and let them pass. Pause 20 seconds.

(7) If a leaf gets stuck, allow it to hang around until it’s ready to float by. If the thought comes up again, watch it float by another time. Pause 20 seconds.

(8) If a difficult or painful feeling arises, simply acknowledge it. Say to yourself, “I notice myself having a feeling of boredom/impatience/frustration.” Place those thoughts on leaves and allow them float along.

(9) From time to time, your thoughts may hook you and distract you from being fully present in this exercise. This is normal. As soon as you realize that you have become side-tracked, gently bring your attention back to the visualization exercise.

Taken from: Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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9: Savour Life’s Joys

One of the things I’ve learned from my meditation experience is that one should live life in the moment. When you do this, you start to appreciate the little things – the taste of good food, the beauty of a flower, the scents on the air, the feel of the warmth on your skin, etc., etc.. When we’re in the midst of our typically stressful days, we sometimes forget to slow down a bit and look at the world around us.

One little thing that my husband and I have been doing is making sure that at least once a week we eat without any other distractions. We can enjoy the food that we’re eating and each other’s company. We make sure to try something new or be creative with something we’ve done in the past. We truly savour the flavours in front of us and the time to catch up on how life is treating us.

So, today, stop for just a minute. Let go of any thought that comes to mind about your day other than what’s happening in that moment (it’s okay if they come, just acknowledge them and let them go with a breath out). Notice the sounds around you. What does the weather feel like? What can you smell? Notice if it’s noisy or quiet. What do you see? What beauty can you find? What didn’t you notice just a moment ago? If you can do this daily, you will start experiencing more joy in your life.