Hello. I hope as each meditation goes up, that more and more people are following this segment’s first pre-post about having a good waking up process each morning. That can elevate each of these exercises.
Today’s meditation has two components. The first urges us to increase our awareness and to think differently. The second part gets us to do something regarding whatever it is that we noticed.
MORNING MEDITATION FOUR
We can start by choosing a close friend that we believe might benefit from a phone call from us during this crisis. Once we have chosen the friend, our next task is to think about them in some novel way.
Learning to see anything or anyone in this ‘novel way’ is where our expansion will happen. This is a key part of staying present. The trick is, we want to forget what we know and replace it with open awareness.
Say for example we have a dear friend and we have always loved their banana bread, and we know that making it is something they often do. Do we know why? If not, and it’s that important to someone close to us, then the first question is: why don’t we know why already?
To continue our example, let us imagine that our friend tells us that they only make banana bread when they feel frightened or sad, because making it reminds them of their mother when she was alive. The friend may also note that it’s during trying times that they most acutely miss seeing their mother.
After that, in pursuit of meaningful conversation, we may ask what it was they got from their mother during those baking sessions. Their answer can be like a key to helping them calm down during difficult times.
If, for instance, they said ‘we would make banana bread when things were crazy because we both liked how the same recipe always got us the same comforting results even in a state of chaos,‘ then they have told us that the bread is symbolic for them.
If we know that baking it means they feel lost and distressed, then when we know they are baking, we can become a better friend by finding ways additional ways to help create the sense of order the banana bread is trying to restore.
Of course, other people’s banana bread might be fixing a car, or staring at the stars through a telescope, or spending time with horses, or watching certain kinds of movies or reading certain kinds of books.
The choices expressed in everyone’s life are ultimately choices created in our history. Just as we are logical about the crazy things we do, finding that logic in others can help develop the skills necessary to find them within ourselves as well.
Meditations like these can easily make a friendship more conscious, and our support of others can be more sophisticated as a result. It can also create better conversation, but the biggest benefit is that we will have learned to see something familiar in a new way. Now we just have to do that with every other person, place or thing in the entire universe. Hey, we have to start somewhere.
Choose a friend. Find the obvious thing we don’t know. Ask about it. Discover it. Understand it. And then respond if a response is the right response. This is what it is to be conscious about living life.
I’ll see you all this afternoon for the evening meditation.
EVENING MEDITATION FOUR
Here’s hoping that by the time we have reached this evening’s meditation that we have had a day that has left us feeling good –all things considered. But even if we haven’t had a good day, we still want to preserve as much of it as we can, even if that’s just the bit right before we go to sleep.
I often point out that sleep is a meditation, but few people ever notice that their challenges with meditation are the same ones they often have with sleeping.
In both case, we can often feel restless, or itchy. Various sounds will irritate us, or we will rustle through old memories, or imagine stressful futures. We will, in many ways, feel the impulse to get up and return to being ‘busy.’ This is the feeling of insomnia.
In the end our battles with meditation and our battles with sleep require the same intervention. We must find a focus so that our minds are not free to wander through some huge list of possible candidates for frustration and/or irritation.
One particularly easy way to focus our minds at night is to focus on our hearing. Rather than thinking thoughts about how we wish we were asleep, and then applying the neighbor’s barking dog into the narrative, we can instead ignore the incidental noises to focus on the ever-present ones. In short, we want to hear where we live in a way we may never have before.
For this meditation, as we lay in bed, our job is to find three to five sounds that occur on a fairly regular basis. These can be the change in the sound of traffic relating to nearby traffic lights, or it can be our fridge compressor starting, the clicking before our furnace ignites, or the tapping sound that periodically comes from a boiler.
We’re looking for sounds that have essentially always been there, but ones we haven’t paid any attention to in years. By returning our attention to them, it not only gives our mind the sleep-inducing tasks of actively waiting for a sound, and then listening for them to end, but it also reminds us that we do place our attention. And we are better to do so with intention.
With any luck, people will drift off while they’re still trying to actively listen for their third example. But even if we don’t get to sleep any earlier, this is still an exercise worth practicing. It is only by having to do it that our brains get good at following our instructions. So rather than being our programmed mind’s servant, let’s un-program it and make it our servant.
Have a great sleep everyone. Tomorrow is filled with promise. As much as possible, we want to be rested to ensure we find as much of it as possible.
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.