I had known about meditation for years and gone to workshops hoping to establish a daily routine, but it wasn’t until my own homeopath began encouraging me to practice mindfulness when I felt upset or in pain that I really embraced it and began reaping the benefits. In all honesty, I think it was desperation that prompted me to get serious about using it to feel better. Up until that point I simply wanted homeopathy to cure me and was irritated at the thought that I had to do more than show up for appointments and monitor my progress after remedies. Gradually I realized that real healing is not just getting rid of discomfort. It is a journey towards awareness and the more actively we are engaged in the process, the deeper the healing. It may seem strange but Illness is our friend because it forces us to take notice that something is out of balance and needs to change. While it’s true that homeopathy is amazing and can stimulate miraculous changes, the way we live our lives, feed our bodies, and handle stress all facilitate its healing power.
Meditation is the practice of focusing attention and quieting the constant flow of our thoughts. The image that most often comes to mind when you hear the word meditation is someone sitting cross legged on a yoga mat or cushion, with eyes closed in deep contemplation. However we can meditate even while engaged in simple activities like washing dishes, preparing tea, or taking a walk outside. The key is to be fully present, fully focused on whatever it is you’ve chosen as your intentional activity. If you are washing dishes, pay attention to every movement, the flow of the water, the sensation on your hands, the sound of the glass as it clinks when it lands in the dish rack. Sharon Saltzberg, a prominent meditation teacher says “The more we activate the intentional brain, the stronger it gets. Every time we do something deliberate and new, we stimulate neuroplasticity, activating our grey matter, which is full of newly sprouted neurons that have not yet been groomed for “autopilot” brain.”
Here are simple instructions for the traditional sitting technique:
• Take a comfortable seat (on a chair is fine)
• Set a time limit. 5-10 minutes is a good place to start.
• Pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out.
• Notice when your mind has wandered. Then move attention back to the breath.
• Don’t worry when your mind wanders. Just notice and refocus.
• Close when your time is up by acknowledging with love that you showed up.
That’s it! It may feel hard in the beginning but no matter how long it takes to establish a regular practice you have taken the first steps towards greater awareness. At some point it will feel easier to meditate and you will probably look forward to your “sitting” time. You’ll carry it with you and be able to cultivate greater awareness at times of stress in your daily life.