At the Center of a Beautiful Life: MEDITATION (Calm, Nourished & Totally Lovable... Every Day)
"Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment."
–Thích Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
Some time ago I began searching for a daily practice that could provide nourishment on all levels -- from my outlook and state of mind, to my physical and spiritual well-being. I'd been meditating for years, and could make a simple switch to drop into a deep state of Fierce Presence at will, but I wasn't able to sustain a daily meditation practice for more than a month or two without intermittent pauses.
The thing is, my meditation practice has been the cornerstone of my life path for many years -- a sanctuary of sanity -- and I knew I was holding myself back by not committing to a regular daily practice. So, I resolved to cultivate a practice of mindful awareness on all levels, every day, led by my morning meditations. Since then I've experienced remarkable stretches of clarity, and some fascinating revelations!
I'm throughly convinced that a good daily practice should kiss you all over (with some good hugs too). And when I say all over, I’m speaking of you on all the basic levels: Spiritual, Energetic, Physical, Mental and Emotional.
Without a doubt, though, the cornerstone of an effective daily practice -- and a beautiful life -- is meditation.
A regular practice of mindful self-reflection is like the lubricant that oils the rest of your system, enabling you to flow more easily through the many challenges of daily modern life.
Without some sort of quiet self-reflection practice, there is no question your mind is going to run wild and far away from you at any given time (like it does for most of us!). The practice brings you home.
There are a ton of benefits to a good meditation practice, but some of my immediate favorites are:
- Peace of mind
- A sense of inner strength
- (Basically, good energy all around)
Considering these benefits it's easy to see how a good meditation practice can be such an integral part of a beautiful life -- nourishing you on so many levels, watering the garden of your soul, and making you an infinitely more lovable human being!
Of course, what constitutes a “good meditation practice” is totally subjective. My basic guidelines are:
A) The practice should just work for you (though you may need to give it a few tries if you're just starting out);
B) It should be relatively easy and painless for you to pull off on a regular basis.
Here then are two of my favoritest, simple meditation practices you can try any time (probably taught a bit differently then you've heard before...)
1. Follow the Breath Home
The most basic practice you can draw into your life is also one of the most useful. Useful because you can use it to great effect any time of day or night -- though I recommend starting with a morning routine, as it really helps you get into a good frame of mind for the rest of the day.
Following the Breath is a deceptively simple practice that's usually taught somewhere along these lines:
Follow the breath with your attention as it travels into your body, and continue to notice as it does its thing. It will make its way back out, and then a new one will come...and with some practice and luck you'll soon find yourself adrift in an ocean of bliss...
But the real secret I've found to making this an effective practice -- and one you may not have heard before -- is this:
The breath is a wonderful source of vital life force, and it has great power, but this practice is NOT actually about following the breath. The breath is simply a vehicle for your awareness to settle more deeply into itself.
That's why I call this practice, Following the Breath HOME.
"Watching your breath" is a great place to start, but the next step is to notice where the breath is leading your awareness. Because we're not talking about simply controlling the mind here, or doing some concentration exercise, we're talking about accessing a much deeper state of being -- a place that touches on the real depths of your Soul.
You may, of course, notice yourself getting hooked by some thoughts that come to pull you down the river way. (Just try not to be such a hungry fish!) Let the thoughts arise as they may, and when you notice yourself noticing, just let them keep on flowing gently down the way. THEN bring your awareness back to the depths -- the presence of your being.
Like my teacher, David Elliott, often says, “Where awareness goes, energy flows.” Simply allowing your awareness to travel inwards, and following that thread into your Source Essence, you might be surprised at what you find in there -- perhaps some fine Soul magic unfurls its splendid graces for your pleasure!
There's a belief that thoughts are bad. But thoughts are just fish in the river. You think a river minds having fish?" ~ Pamela Wilson (Satsang)
2. The Breathwork Meditation
I use Following the Breath Home all the time throughout my day, and combine it with other practices as well, such as the Pranayama Breathwork I've been practicing regularly for several years.
This simple breathing meditation is my personal favorite daily morning practice -- an active meditation that helps let go of the thoughts, and releases "stuck" energy in the body. This was taught to me by the wonderful master healer and teacher I mentioned, David Elliott, who has been a great source of wisdom and healing through the various workshops and Healer Trainings I've taken with him over the years. (Luckily, you don't need to travel to Los Angeles or New Mexico where he teaches, as he's created some wonderful and inexpensive guided meditations you can download from his site.)
A few of my favorite of David's guided meditations:
If you're feeling lots of heavy and dark energy weighing you down, the Entity Energy Release Meditation; if you're an artist, the Shortcuts to Healing Meditation (Creativity & Gratitude), and if you just need some help getting clear and de-cluttered, the Cleanse Meditation. The Spiritual Practice Meditation set is also super convenient, and the one I use most often, as it offers four different length meditations (I use either the 13-minute or 21-minute practice regularly, and have them loaded into my phone so I can just plug in the earphones in the morning, and do the practice straight away).
This practice has been a saving grace -- quieting the mind, releasing stuck energy, and making room for Spirit to come in and merge with the heart -- super healing and very effective. I recently checked my play counts, and saw that I've done more than 1,000 of these guided breathing meditations since 2010!
I spoke more about my experience with the breathwork, and the connection between Self Healing, Affluence and Creative Flow...in this article I wrote in Costa Rica.
But...why practice daily?
Practicing daily just has a magical and powerful effect. Along with the good energy built up, your progress accumulates over time and you’re able to go a lot further with fewer bad days in-between good ones. It also helps to give you more consistent clarity and good energy, which just helps make your day so much better. Who doesn't want that…?
So, if you have a good practice that works for you -- awesome! You're ready to roll. If you haven't found a good meditation practice yet, start with Following the Breath Home, or try one of David's guided meditations above.
Just do it -- start a daily meditation practice today -- it’s worth it, it’s life changing, and it only takes 30 days to build a habit that can change your life.
(As you raise yourself up through your Spirit, and through the creative expression of your Soul, you raise us all up too... We rise with you.)
You have nothing to lose, and all the peace, clarity and lovability in the world to gain! ;)
A few additional meditation resources:
1. The wonderful Leo Babauta has a lovely primer on how to meditate daily, where he suggests starting with just a two-minute daily practice commitment. (It's true, you really just need 1-2 minutes to shift your reality completely... I say, start with a commitment you can keep!)
2. My friend, Ashley Turner, produced a remarkable virtual conference in collaboration with En*theos, Meditation 101. (You can watch wonderful previews with all 33 experts there, and also purchase the complete set). Guests like Russell Simmons, Marianne Williamson and Sally Kempton take on subjects as diverse as Success Through Stillness, Fearless Heart Meditation, and Meditation + Activism. Awesome... Check it out here!
3. Here is a piece I wrote On Breathing and Being Peace, with the teachings of Vietnamese Buddhist master and peacemaker, Thích Nhat Hanh.
4. Worth remembering: The breath is awesome, the breath is amazing, and it's not all about just following the breath. The breath is a vehicle for your awareness to settle more deeply into itself. (Practice cultivating Fierce Presence)
5. For some extra guidance + inspiration -- and a short guided meditation you can use to upgrade your outlook any time (recorded in Buenos Aires) -- you can sign up for my Fierce Wisdom Soul Letters and Flow Kit here.
My daily meditation practice saves my sanity (almost) every day. And on those rare occasions when the practice alone doesn't quite cut it, it always helps open the doors to whatever else needs to happen to bring me back into wholeness. That’s why I come back to it every day! Trust me, it's worth it. :)
In the Fire of Love Experience we’ll be exploring the edges of mindfulness and spiritual practice, creative expression and practical magic in a sacred private community setting. Cultivating a strong daily practice so you can thrive in your life and work is the heart of the Fire of Love process -- sometimes you just need a little extra push to stay on track! Join the Interest List to get priority access when registration opens.
Imagine how much more peaceful and positive the world would be if more people calmed their minds, centered into their Source, and walked with Love and Beauty every day. Please share this post with your friends!