Something is going on in the universe, pushing me, no, demanding that I meditate. No less than six people have recently suggested that I would benefit from the practice.
Is it the fact that my shoulders are permanently attached to my ears? Is it the eye twitching? The scattered thoughts? The distracted and confused stare? What exactly about me do they see that makes them think, "Boy, could you benefit from some stress relief?"
"I've tried it in the past," I tell them, "It's just not for me."
Unwavered they respond, "Yeah, you should really try it again. Really."
So here I am, giving in to the universe and trying it again because apparently, I could really benefit from it. But this time I'm trying a different technique.
Traditional meditation, where you sit quietly focusing on nothing is a disaster for me. I'm incapable of shutting down my brain. It's constantly spinning, reminding me to get bread at the grocery store, schedule my dog Snickers' vet appointment, clean the house for the upcoming holiday party and help Amanda with her science project. How anyone can sit still and NOT think is beyond me. This is why I'm not the Dalai Lama. I'm not enlightened. I live in the dark stressful space of an anxious mother.
I need a different kind of meditation, a technique that occupies my mind, gives me something to do. Thankfully, I recently learned a type of meditation that does just that. It's got some fancy medical name which I cannot recall so I coined it "See-Hear-Feel" because I'm kind of an idiot and that moniker helps me remember what to do.
Here's how it works.
First, sitting in a comfortable position, begin breathing through your nose, taking several deep, calming breaths.
Next, let your eyes wander around the room and find an object that appeals to you and focus on it. This is the "see" part. Continuing to breathe through your nose, notice the object and the characteristics that make you want to look at it. Is it the color? The way the light hits it? Mentally describe the object to yourself, focusing only on what you see.
Then, continuing your nose breathing and staring at your object, focus on what you hear. The whir of the heating system, cars passing by outside, clocks ticking, whatever is around you. Again, make a mental checklist of the sounds in your vicinity.
Finally, turn your attention to what you feel—physically, not emotionally. Maybe you feel the chair pressing into your legs or your legs crossed over one another. You might notice that you're hungry, cold, or warm.
Continuing to breathe through your nose, you should feel markedly different by now, much calmer, more relaxed.
Our stresses and worries live at a very high level of cognitive function. We are problem solvers constantly trying to fix the issues that plague us. This technique works because it forces our thoughts on basic sensations, what we see, hear and feel, placing us in the present moment, temporarily giving us a respite from our worries.
I like this technique because it can take as little as five minutes and it gives my mind something to do. Plus I can do it anywhere, no special CD is required.
My final piece of advice is: DO NOT pick your "to-do" list as the thing to focus on. Admiring your handwriting or the way the sun highlights the word "coffee" on your Costco list isn't effective.
Happy meditating everyone!