How I Meditate

fb160503a1Meditation is a personal thing. Once you have the basics it’s fun to be creative. My intention is to let my thoughts calm and open my awareness. So when I sit in this new routine of mine, I allow myself to take the necessary steps to get to that place.

I do the obvious things of sitting quietly in an upright position, often with palms up and a straight spine. Eyes closed and my intention focused on a point behind my forehead. I then start breathing calmly and deliberately. I have learned that on a good day it takes about five minutes for me to hit the place of calm where my active thoughts start to fade, or at least get more quiet.

During the beginning when my thoughts are very active and vying for my brain-space I do a few things to get past it … all of them gentle and not bossy towards myself. One thing is to practice focusing on an imaginary point behind my forehead. If I notice my eyes clenching and actually trying to look at it, I try to relax them. Some people see colors, or a point of light, I often see the image of eyes. No surprise there. Sometimes I repeat a phrase (mantra or intention) in my mind. Sometimes I’ll hum a ethereal tune repeatedly.

Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with the pineal gland, the place you’re really trying to focus on which is about six inches back from your forehead, and associated with the third eye. So, sometimes I’ll have a little chat with mine. I’ll welcome him to the day, ask him what we’d like to see today, maybe give him a little virtual massage and envision him going out and seeing things.  Sometimes I’ll visualize myself at the end point of a goal that I’m trying to reach and put out to the universe to help me get there without focusing on the steps in between. I believe in the power of my fantasy world and talking to parts of my body when they’re in a state of tension or discomfort. It can help alleviate it just by acknowledging it’s there rather than battling against it or denying it.

But anyway, after I have my little chat and greeting I’ll also talk a little bit to the thoughts that are coming. I encourage them to come, and then go, come and then go. Not trying to fight them off or ignore them but giving them their space because they are the natural function of the brain, and allowing them to pass without dwelling on them or going deeper into more thoughts. As a friend said, watching the river flow by.

That’s about the first five minutes. The I go back to my focusing on a point and letting my mind quiet. I might notice aches in my muscles or a tight joint, which can be distracting. I breathe and imagine the breath going to that place, again, acknowledging that it is there without cursing it most times that allows it to subside. Same with itches. I do move slightly if my foot starts to fall asleep which happens to me sometimes. And sometimes I’ll scratch an itch. The idea though is to not judge yourself. Some say you have to sit perfectly still and that is preferred but if you do move, don’t get distracted by it. Just do it and move back into letting it come and go.

Sometimes I only sit for about 10 minutes but try to aim for 20. I used to set a timer but I’ve stopped that and go as long as I can. Again, no judgment on myself if it’s a short sitting day. It’s all good.

Becoming toxin free: The start of my journey.

I realize that this is my art and bead blog but I also write about other things that stir my passion. Please do skip over anything that does not interest you, but please do not unsubscribe because of that…I will be back to the subject that brought you here in the first place soon enough!

This post is the beginning of a series that I am writing about how I have been eliminating toxins from my life and resources that you might also be interested in learning about or applying yourself over time. Please bookmark and share!

This all started because of my kids; my daughter to be exact, and the observation that kids, especially girls, are entering puberty many years earlier than my generation had. That scared me. I have heard many theories about this but the one that stuck with me, and one that I could try and control, was diet.

I started to learn more about growth hormones in meat and dairy, antibiotics in the animals, preservatives in packaged processed foods and then, onto pesticides and fertilizer on our farmed foods and then even deeper into learning about genetically modified food. What a nightmare. Or, shall I say, awakening?

While it may seem daunting in the beginning, rest assured that it doesn’t have to be. I firmly believe in changing what you can, little by little at a comfortable pace. Not like a crash diet where one day you change everything. No. Maybe this week you start buying organic produce or eliminate one thing from your diet. If it’s too hard, add it back in and change something else that you might be able to do more easily. Or just cut back a little on something. Believe me…there are plenty of things that can be done.

Eating Animals Jonathan Safran FoerI started out eliminating poultry from my diet after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I am not an animal activist. It is what goes into the animal and what gets into the meat during processing and therefore into us, that drives my no-meat diet. Eating Animals is not graphic or written in a shocking way. It is matter of fact and includes interviews with farmers that ‘do it right’…humanely, and clean.

I learned that if I was going to eat meat, which was the safest and best and I also learned differences between things like air chilling and water chilling…the reason I don’t eat poultry anymore. This is the book that I’d been waiting for that would kick me into effortless change of my dietary habits.

That said, I would like to add a caveat. I don’t have a label for how I eat. While I discourage labels (other than on my food!), sometimes they are helpful just for ease of communication. I say I don’t eat meat, but I do. Very seldom, but I do. I say NO POULTRY but, at Thanksgiving when I cook an organic, air cooled turkey, I might have a bite or two. I eat fish (but limit certain types), seafood, eggs and rarely dairy. I try not to eat unfermented soy. I try not to eat wheat at all costs, sugar only where I can’t avoid it, and I try to limit other white carbs. But I like my rice.

There is no way to put a label on any of that. And the more I state my personal eating do’s and don’ts the kookier it sounds to someone outside of me. That is why it is a journey and why I don’t judge what other people do or eat, whether it be good, bad, fad diet or quirkier nuances.

I try things and some become long-term changes because I like how I feel when I’m doing it. Other things, not so much. Nothing is hard and fast, set in stone. If I like the taste of bacon, I’m gonna take a bite or two. (I’m shocked that I don’t like bacon anymore). A little of something is not going to kill me. A lot of something that I have determined isn’t good for me will make me feel uncomfortable for a while. Sometimes, I decide it’s worth it. With that thought process, I’ve found that it’s much easier to do all of this and I hope it makes a difference to others as I share about it.