Back in college, I taught myself to play the guitar.
Well, I taught myself enough so I could play some Christmas carols and put music to some songs I had rummaging around in my head.
Amazingly, I awoke at 5 am this morning singing the few lines I remembered of a song I wrote entitled Be Still.
The only lines I recalled were:
As you can imagine, I started on a hunt this morning to look for the rest of the lyrics in my memory boxes. I found this guitar cutout I had made for my Nana, which had many of the songs I had written at the time. Alas, my stillness song was not inside.
However, I did remember quite a few tunes to the lyrics I had written here.
I must put as a caviat here that I am not the best vocalist. I'd love to have someone that is actually sing these songs, as I think they are inspiring and catchy. So, if you're interested, let me know!
The reason the concept of stillness has been on my mind is that this is the topic of this week's focus in the Awaken your Purpose Mastery Course.
Our minds are continually observing the environment around us, generating some 60,000 plus thoughts every single day. When we're busy (which is most of us, most of the time), this seems normal. In fact, it often keeps us on task to get our daily to-do lists accomplished.
But, when you slow down, the sound of your thoughts can be overwhelming.
The goal this week is to delve into some silence.
This actually ties back into the concept of non-attachment, to which I was referring to yesterday.
By taking time in stillness, you allow your mind to observe it's thoughts. By watching the fluctuations of the mind, you soon realize you are not defined by it, and you can start to become aware of ideas that are serving you, and ones that are not. You can also open yourself up to new patterns of thought, that might not be able to squeeze their way into the busy-ness of your mind otherwise.
My favorite path to stillness: meditation.
Before you go and roll your eyes, there are just as many ways to approach meditation as there are people on the planet. Probably even more!
On pages 213-214 of my It Just Makes Sense book, I talk about the similarities between the various types of meditation (We're still having our $5 sale in honor of our 5-year anniversary. This ends on 12/31). Regardless of the types, there are many benefits to tapping into stillness via meditation. They include, but are not limited to:
- Improved quality of life
- Increased creativity
- Enhanced intuition
- Improved productivity
- Increased sense of confidence
- Decreased perception of pain
- Reduced feelings of depression
- Improved sleep patterns, and
- Reduced feelings of stress
Today, and in the coming week, I'd like to focus on passive meditation.
This involves sitting quietly, while the subconscious mind processes thoughts, emotions, and sensations. It's as thought the subconscious is the deep waters of a lake (I picture Lake Tahoe), and the thoughts from the deep rise to the surface, creating ripples on the conscious mind (our level of awareness).
A common misconception is that the goal of meditating is to empty the mind.
Instead, the goal of meditation is to realize you are not defined by those thoughts, emotions, or perceptions. This goes back to that sense of detachment, and thus freedom.
Passive meditation develops the skill of being still.
When I was in Brasil, I did a 10-day meditation course where we were silent for the entire time. We couldn't even make eye contact with our fellow classmates. It was excruciating at first, as I was in the midst of huge life transitions (and not feeling great about them). Being alone with myself felt like being alone with a bi-polar lunatic who didn't know where in the world they belonged. But, after a few days of settling into that stillness, I was able to view that emotional roller coaster as a reaction to my environment. It really wasn't who I was at my core.
I was able to process those emotions, release stress that was no longer serving me, and find peace in the unknown of my life.
I didn't leave there feeling like I had a perfect plan for my entire existence, but I did know the core of who I am ... and could move into whatever may lie ahead with confidence. (The photo of me to the right was where I stayed with friends for a few weeks before heading back to the states)
Essentially, the meditation course taught me that I can observe outside situations (wanted and unwanted) without attaching to them. Now, as I encounter tough situations or challenging people, I have a broader perspective of the situation. I can see new solutions to problems, and have insights about the lessons learned, instead of getting caught in the upset.
To get the most from a meditation practice:
• Find a comfortable seated position
• Use a quiet place where you are free from distractions or interruptions
• Practice at a consistent time each day
I had a friend who would take just an extra 5 minutes in the bathroom getting ready for work each morning to be still. It was her only space to have some quiet away from the kids before setting off into the whirlwind of each day.
To get started yourself, I suggest you try the Journey into Stillness Activity below:
Commit to set aside 15-20 minutes each day this week to be totally still and undisturbed. This could be in the early morning, or even just before bed. You might also find time during your lunch break in the quiet of your office. It also helps to be consistent with the time you choose.
Step 1: Find your comfortable seat
Use the instructions on the following page to set yourself up for success in stillness.
Step 2: Focus on a single point
Using the guided meditation, or a personalized practice of your own, enjoy stillness for 15-20 minutes. If you’re using the recording, there will be a natural return back into the room around you. If you’re using another method, make sure to transition back into your immediate environment slowly and mindfully.
Another sidebar here. Deepak Chopra's Soul of Healing Meditation was the first guided meditation I started with. I'll share a few more of my favorites throughout the week.
Step 3: Smile and ground again
Oftentimes the practice of meditation can leave you feeling ethereal or light. Make sure to smile as you return to your body in the moment. Walk around, stretch, or drink some water.
Step 4: Reflect on your insights
Sometimes, just getting into the stillness might be what you need. Other times, you will be very aware of thoughts that are serving you, and some that are not. Without judgment, make some notes in a journal or notebook to track your insights, and invite those positive insights into the rest of your day.
Here's to a great week of focus, clarity, and fun!!