Good morning. Hopefully most of you got to engage with the healthy waking-up process that started this series. If so, then the longer we do it, the more likely we are to find that our minds will be growing quieter in the mornings.
The more we do our wake-up ritual, with the daily intentions, the more our brain will get used to having its day start more slowly and intentionally. But it will also begin to crave some meaningful focus or purpose, and busy-ness in our minds will become noticeably less desirable.
MORNING MEDITATION THREE
Today’s meditation is far more popular today than it used to be, but we don’t want its popularity to conceal its deeper value. It is the nature of ego to torture ourselves with our wanting. Wanting is a wrenching, empty, cloying feeling that is incompatible with peace. But its antidote is always appreciation and/or gratitude.
Today’s meditation is easy but still challenging because we won’t just be randomly noticing things we like. We want to engage our minds in more of an exploration of our gratitude. We want to spend the day weighing out, what exactly forms the value we perceive?
Done in a shallow way, today’s meditation; to find the five most valuable things in our lives, would just be a list of people, with maybe a couple of places or things thrown in there. But we want to go deeper into that. What is it about those things that gives us value?
To make the meditation easier to grasp, imagine that we are using someone we love. If we were on our deathbeds with only a short time to live, what is that we would want to happen in that time period?
Would we want a silent 15 minute hug? Or 30 minutes of advice? Is there something we’ve always wanted to tell them? Or something we’ve always wanted to hear? And if whether we wanted to hear it or say it, how does the exchange we desire connect to the value we see in them?
To further refine the example, if we would choose to tell an old friend they’ve been like a parent to us, then the value we’re actually noting is that families are not always connected by blood, but that our connection to them feels –to us– like a parent-child relationship. And by meditating on it with more focus, we may further realize that, deep down, this person feels like a parent because they’ve always made us feel safe.
In the above example, the point is to winnow our grateful thing down to that kind of essence. We love Person X because they help us feel safe.
Hopefully the value in approaching it this way is apparent, because then when we are with that person today, while we’re healthy, it will make us more aware of the essence of our relationship. And that might lead us to say or do different things than we otherwise might have, and that expands our reality.
By understanding our own gratitude more, it also helps us to see why or when we might contact them (when we’re unnerved). Then any time we call them, we will have a sense to check in with where our fears are at.
If we find the fear, then we know what has prompted them to be in our imaginations –the parent figure is wired into our reactions to ‘fear’ like a salve in our minds. In short, their presence calms ours. That’s the thing we’re looking for when defining what we’re grateful for. That base essence of the gratitude.
Please encourage your friends to also consider doing these meditations. Every day I see signs online of people who are suffering only because their brains have no useful focus. But by focusing any mind, we can turn idle spin into a great lesson about ourselves. It’s only a matter of choice.
We can learn through practice how to focus our mind more intentionally. Then, if we find ourselves with idle time, that is when we should become very active about our intention; about our search for this level of gratitude. It’s one of the best meditations we can do because it exposes so much while helping us feel so good.
With that start, this should make for a pleasant day of surprising discoveries. Thank you for joining me. See you this evening. Enjoy.
EVENING MEDITATION THREE
It’s fine if this morning’s meditation takes us a few days, or a few rewrites before it’s nailed down. That won’t stop us from doing tonight’s.
Because people need look at a screen to look at (or even really listen to) these meditations, it’s probably a good idea to read them well before retiring. That way we can let them sink in, we can start the process of slowing down our minds before bed, and we can also avoid the wakeful effects of the blue light emitted by video screens.
This evening’s meditation is wonderfully simple. For right now, take a moment to note any tightness anywhere from our neck and shoulders, through our arms and chest, or in our stomach or back.
Once we’ve moved our awareness around our bodies and found them, we can take five very deep, very slow breaths. On each one, tension should relax as we signal our body it is safe.
Once we feel ourselves ‘let go’ inside (don’t worry, it’s a very distinctive feeling when our insides relax), we can note the speed and depth and of breathing. Speed and depth. How far is our diaphragm expanding to let that air in? It’s good to loosen it by all that we are able. That way we can make more space within us.
Next, note the time, and make sure that the current time is visible to you for a while. Then, because it will be easier to remember, pay special attention to any time which contains a ‘3.’ So, 7:13pm, 8:31pm, 11:43pm etc. When you see a three, use it as a signal to check in with your breathing. How fast, how deep, how much expansion?
That’s it. Just do that for at least an hour before sleep. We can be watching TV, or talking to someone, or our computer or phone. But the point is to first learn to pay more regular attention, and secondly, to use our breathing as a scale for assessing our state of mind, and thirdly, to respond to any stress by creating a calming effect.
If we turn the act of staying conscious of our physical selves into a regular practice, then we will soon see that our ability to relax into sleep will become something we can actively achieve by calming ourselves intentionally.
These are the parts of living that no one thinks to practice, and yet they are the ones that form the moments that add up to our lives. Don’t forget to have fun with it. You’re an explorer.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.