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Let’s talk about one of the parts of meditation and mindfulness today that can often be really hard. The thing that makes us sometimes feel like we are totally failing at it. We are going to talk about focus today, but probably not in the way you’re expecting me to talk about it.
We are going to talk about what you’re actually doing when you are focused. We are going to practice doing, instead of just thinking about doing. Remember, actions speak louder than words. They have a much bigger impact on us.
I’ve mentioned before, like most meditation teachers do, about how it’s ok for your mind to wander in meditation and that it happens frequently to all of us, and that the point of meditation is to just notice when your mind wanders, make note of it, and try to focus again on the breath. It’s a vicious, but rewarding, cycle. That’s why we keep coming back to it.
Today, we’re going to shift gears and actually talk about WHAT is physically going through your brain when you do actually focus on things that you don’t normally focus on. When you are REALLY tuning in to your body, or your atmosphere, or your thoughts and actions, what is going through your head?
So the first thing I want to touch on is the aspect of focusing on your breath. In the meditation later, I’m not going to guide you through the breathing this time, I want you to notice what it really means to you, to breathe on your own. Here’s what happens to me during guided meditations, and I’m curious if it happens to anyone else.
When someone tells me to allow my breath to fall back to it’s natural pace, I tend to think in my head, I have no idea what that looks like. How do I even breathe normally? And then I spend the time stressing about how to breathe normally where I should just be relaxing and settling my thoughts. How does one just breathe normally? Do we breathe at a steady metronome pace, or do we take a few deeper breaths then some shorter breaths? I have no idea. But then I’m so focused on it, that any type of breathing I try to do feels unnatural. Right? Anybody else experience this during meditation? It’s kind of frustrating.
I do want to remind you that that’s the exact point of meditation. It’s getting you to tune in, to your own mind and body, and identify the normalcies, or the idiosyncrasies that we do, so we better understand them.
One of the ways that I’ve been able to overcome those days of not knowing how to breathe “correctly” is by meditating first thing in the morning. I sleep on my side, and so when I wake up, my chest and my lungs feel so scrunched and tight. Oh my gosh, those first few deep deep breaths of the meditation, are absolutely intoxicating. Just physically feeling my lungs fill up with air and my chest stretching and expanding, is so energizing and can set the whole tone for my day. And then after I take those deep breaths, I do begin to settle down into a natural pattern, and because it’s so early in the morning, my mind isn’t active enough yet to begin to comprehend all of those questions that used to come up.
I’m able to just be. To be there in the quiet, dark house, with the sun just beginning to come up outside shedding light on my day. What a feeling it is also to be sitting here meditating with my eyes closed, and then when I’m done and open my eyes, the sun has come up. It’s the best feeling.
Which brings us to your mindful action for this week, You are going to sit with the uncomfortable parts of meditation. Yes, I’m asking you to sit and be uncomfortable this week.
So figure out what bothers you during meditation. Is it focusing on the breath, like me, or is it having to sit still for an extended period of time, or maybe it’s the quietness and having to sit with your thoughts and acknowledge what’s going through your head. Whatever part you don’t like about meditation, embrace it, and think about what you’re feeling, why you feel that way, and, how doing this is actually helping you to become stronger.
I will also be publishing an extra bonus episode on the podcast this week to help you deepen your practice and sit with that uncomfortable feeling we just talked about. It will be a short 5-minute mantra meditation to help you find peace and calm in the stressful parts of life.
Meditation for Beginners on Focus and Breathing
I’d like you to sit straight up today in a chair, on a cushion, or on the floor. Hands relaxed in your lap, gently clasped, or palms facing up. Relax your shoulders. Relax the creases in your forehead. your jaw line, and your neck. Make sure your chin is pulled slightly in so your head continues a straight line above your spine, instead of sticking out towards the front. And begin to settle your thoughts, and focus on your breath. Whatever that may mean to you.
Your mantra today will be: discontent to reconnect. I trust in me.
Now let’s say that 3 times through to ourselves: discontent to reconnect. I trust in me.
Whenever you feel yourself getting too distracted today, take a deep breath and come back to this mantra. And now let’s quietly sit, focusing on our breath for a few moments.
What does meditation mean to you? Why do you do it?
What is hard about meditation for you? What makes you uncomfortable?
Now look at that uncomfortable feeling from a different angle. How is it helping you to be more open with your mind, body, or soul? How is it helping you to grow?
Now take a deep breath. Disconnect to reconnect. I trust in me.
Thank you for meditating with me today, and working on expanding your comfort levels to embrace the the parts of life we’d otherwise avoid. I encourage you to be on the lookout for more short meditations I’ll publish this week for you to continue to practice.