My friend Laura, certainly the most fit person I know, made a seemingly innocuous admission recently that has stuck with me.
I’ve been making feeble attempts to meditate.
I say feeble, because I can’t seem to blank out my mind for more than 30 seconds at a time. I know it takes practice, and I keep thinking there is some magical knack I have not yet come across, so I keep at it.
It’s not that I have a lot of stress in my life, it’s just because I am intrigued with the notion of finding inner calm and in new-agey language “feeling more centered.”
The reality is I am the antithesis of the stereotypical earthy crunchy, down to earth type. (I hate the smell of patchouli. My late husband James equated it to the smell of bug spray. Maybe that has something to do with it.)
The monkey mind is a Buddhist term meaning restless, unsettled, confused. That is the state of mind for many of us in this oh so modern world, where responsibilities, addiction to electronics, and too much Netflix swirl around our brains like cookie dough in a Vitamix. (I do love Netflix. I’m not trying to judge. Hhmmm…now I want a cookie.)
During my recent trip to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health I took a class about leading a more contemplative life. It was very interesting and oh so full of spiritual nuggets we all know make sense but can’t seem to get the hang of, such as:
- Make time for contemplation
- Try to find your true meaning – what do you really value and make it a priority
The woman leading the class admitted there is no answer to the contemplative question -just more questions. It is the process we go through that informs us of how we can make our lives a bit more meaningful (journey vs destination?).
So what can we do more of?
- Better self-care. Not just health-wise. We’ve all heard that until we’d like to punch someone in the throat. It’s about the whole self, and giving yourself a break for being human.
- Gain greater appreciation for the small things. The lady in the grocery store who lets you cut in line because you only have three items; your cats greeting you at the door after work.
- Expand your curiosity. Don’t be afraid to try something outside your comfort zone – like going to a Yoga retreat by yourself.
- Appreciate the power of silence. Shut off the tv and put down the cell phone for a few minutes. Gaze out the window at that pesky squirrel that shakes its tail at you while climbing a tree in your backyard.
The class ended with a 15 minute meditative practice. I think I came as close as I ever have to actually clearing my mind. It took effort, but I focused on one word over and over again that I am trying to be more mindful of, and to still my simian thoughts.