Friday, November 30, 2007

Finding the Peace, Quiet, & Joy Within

Used to be…
It used to be that, at the end of the day, there was time for reflection. We had the opportunity to sort through the day just lived. There was ample time to think things through, make up our mind, discover who we are and what we want, make plans, fantasize, dream, and imagine. Candle light or gas-light just added to the mystery that was life, creating a gauzy, foggy atmosphere.

With our current technology, we can ‘reach out and touch someone’ 24/7. We are never turned to the off position. No matter what your preference as an ‘early riser’ or a ‘night owl’, there is always something you can do. As the saying goes, we have become ‘human-doings’ instead of ‘human-be-ings’.

We are seldom out of touch with the ones we love. We can be contacted via our telephone, fax line, pager, instant messenger, cell phone, email, snail mail, and web cam. Those moments in the car, in the bathroom, shopping, eating, in the movies, at the massage therapists, and at a friend’s house were once great times to reconnect with ourselves in thoughtfulness. They are now constantly punctuated with varying sounds from Beethoven’s Fifth to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and every imaginable bleeping sound in between. Days of connecting to the ‘people on the street’ or in the supermarket are a thing of the past.

Meditation can allow us to find some balance and harmony within and smooth the transitions of life. By turning everything off and taking time to sit still and be with ourselves, we can renew and recharge our batteries. You and your loved ones, indeed, humanity itself, are the ones who will reap the reward of spending as little as 30 minutes a day with yourself.

Some of the key benefits of daily meditation are: finding peace within and the clarity that comes with that; knowing that our actions are in harmony with who we are; connecting with our truth; and keeping our connection to the Source open and flowing. Grounding to Gaia and taking our place in life on this planet. Meditation reduces pain, and gives us the ability to handle the usual stresses of life. It offers increased mental focus, and an improved immune system. There are a few other ‘side-effects’ that you will notice after you have practiced for a while.

Since these previously imposed quiet times are not forced upon us today, we need to use self-discipline to carve out our own meditation routine. When we find the time, what do we do then? Do anything that makes you feel connected to the true you: sing, do art, do music, do exercise, breathe deeply, slow down your breathing, meditate, pray, write in your journal, focus on an object, think through a question or issue you would like clarity on, or just sit and be. Mindfulness is the keyword; bringing all of your attention into the moment and creating a soothing NOW (Notice Only What’s in front of you) in your life.

To the quiet, and make it quick!
Follow your breathing. This is something that you can do anywhere, anytime. You can do this with your eyes open or closed but it is better with your eyes closed as that helps to reduce brain chatter. In less than a minute, you can be in a calm, centred space. All you have to do is start paying attention to your breathing. This is a built in talent that most of us don’t use, probably because we never thought of it. Just slow down and breathe slowly two or three times. It works!

Twelve ways to build peace, quiet, and joy into your life:

1. Get up earlier or stay up later
These are what I refer to as bonus times. Everyone is still asleep, all the radios, computers, and TV’s are off or not yet turned on, and the energy of the house has changed and settled down. When our space is quiet, it is easier for us to be quiet.

2. Use your time in the bathroom
You’re sitting there anyway. Why not use this time throughout the day to centre yourself? Make this time inviolate. When you are in the bathroom, no one must disturb you for any reason unless it is a dire emergency. Keep some uplifting/spiritual/religious books handy for reading. Say your prayers, if you wish. Meditate, light a candle, and burn some incense. Did you know that ‘The Thinker’ statue was originally seated in the bathroom until they moved him to Paris, France? (smile broadly)

3. Listen to soothing music you love
Really listen. Follow the music and allow yourself to move within it. There are numerous CD’s with quality sound to entrance you. Begin by breathing deeply two or three times, relax your body, then, go into the music, become the notes, or follow one instrument only. When it is not playing, simply rest for a moment. Find the many other ways you can enjoy your selection.

4. Sit by flowing water
Sit and soak up the negative ions created by flowing water. These tiny molecules flood the space around us and attach themselves to the positive ions of dust, bacteria, viruses, and ‘dense energies’, allowing these particles to fall harmlessly to the earth. When there are quantities of negative ions cleaning the air, we feel revitalized. Burning a beeswax candle produces a similar effect.

5. Drive around rural areas
Go see the horses, cows, and falling down barns in your rural area. Take your camera to record your visual impressions and a recorder to record your thoughts. Visit the local nature reserves. Or haunt the old miner’s shacks, railway trestles, and abandoned mines in your area. Drive on back roads and drink in natural beauty. Always let someone know where you are going or take a buddy and be safe.

6. Walk in the woods
Notice the myriad hues of green. Place your hands on the side of a tree and get in touch with the energy flowing under the bark. Wrap you arms around it. Fill yourself with appreciation for this enormous tree-being. Stand beside it and get in touch with the root system. Imagine you have roots and pull the energy up from the earth into your own body, as does the tree. Go on a herb walk with a respected herbalist and discover all the healing plants in your area. Your love and appreciation for Gaia and her gifts will increase a hundred-fold.

7. Take the scenic route to work
If at all possible, leave a little earlier and take the back roads. Opt out of the traffic, turn off the radio and cell phone, and drink in the scenes around you. Imagine – quietly, people are getting out of bed, having their breakfast, walking the dog, taking their morning beverage out to the patio or gazebo and surveying the view. Watch for wildlife on the way.

8. Mindfully direct your attention
There are several things to chose from. Depending on the sense you want to stimulate, you could choose cloves, cinnamon, Rose essential oil, perfume, a candle, flower, crystal, photo, a bird, song, feather, tone, and so on. Keep it singular and simple. Put all of your attention into the object of your focus. Breathe deeply and renew your spirit.

9. A party for one
Light your favourite candles and incense, put on your special music and move your body to the rhythm. Follow your own promptings. If you have a drum, didgeridoo, or some other toning instrument, play along. Get a Tibetan singing bowl and simple listen to the wonderful harmonics as you play it.
10. Pretend the power’s out
Turn everything off and sit still. Be quiet, find your sacred space within, and honour your process. Get in touch with who you are in this very moment. What do you really want? Are you doing the things that boost your self-esteem? Do you still have some habits that annoy even you? Are you willing to give them up yet?

If you don’t want to have a serious look at this time, there is still much you can do:
a) go to bed and read a book by flashlight under the covers
b) build a fort with your blankets
c) light the fireplace to roast marshmallows and drink cocoa
d) put your mattress on the floor beside the fire and sleep in your flannel pj’s
e) have a pillow fight with someone you love
f) laugh until your tummy hurts
g) get on the swing in the park
h) teeter-totter with a loved one

11. Speed write
Put pen to paper and don’t take it up until you are done. If you get stuck, simply write ‘I’m stuck, I’m stuck’… until you are unstuck. Your deepest dreams and desires will come forth for you to examine. If you could have your absolute ‘druthers’ (I’d rather be doing this…), what do you want in your life. Make a list.

12. Create a Manifestation Board
Take your list from suggestion 10 and find words, photos, clippings, and magazine pictures that closely resemble what you want then glue-stick it to a piece of black Bristol board. as you stand before your board each day, create a story about how your life is. Use ‘right now’ terms instead of projecting into the future.

As an example: “I am living in a lovely 3 bedroom rancher on a 2-acre property in a quiet location. My kids come for family dinners every other Sunday. I enjoy seeing our grandkids. My husband has been able to retire as we unexpectedly received extra money that enabled our lifestyle. My business is very successful and lots of people from all over the world buy my products, sessions, and courses.” …and so on. Can you imagine the images and words that would be on this board?

Imagination is the key to finding the quiet time in our lives. We can support ourselves throughout our lives with ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there, remembering we won’t always have two jobs to go to or three kids to care for or a parent who is ill. If we can make regular deposits to our ‘spiritual bank account’, when these times come we’ll be better able to handle them and not lose our own centre.

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