‘Quiet the mind and the Soul will speak’ – Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Finding the time to slow down and reflect can be hard. We live such busy lives that it seems almost impossible to find a quiet moment during the day to take time out and be still with our thoughts. We may be distracted, our minds racing over past conversations or plotting future plans, but stopping and pausing for a couple of minutes every day allows us to ground ourselves, take stock and think more clearly.
Meditation offers us a moment of stillness where subtle thoughts can be observed that usually aren’t given space when our schedules are busy. Pausing allows us to listen to our heart, feel our emotions and decide what we want to do. A decision that comes from the heart will be an unregretted decision, one that aligns with our personal values and outlook on life. As our practise grows, our mind’s ability to be creative and solve problems also grows.
In addition to thoughts, emotions and feelings can be more easily accessed allowing for ideas and connections from our subconscious to emerge. Sometimes it can be hard to regulate your emotions especially if we are fearful or anxious. When you observe your thoughts and feel the sensations within you this allows you to create distance between you and the emotion that is overwhelming you. Recognising the emotion gives it permission to exist within your body, naturally dissolve and move to a more harmonious state. There is a saying that goes ‘Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go’. Or as the poet Cleo Wade puts it more specifically ‘Stress and Anxiety … are guests, not permanent fixtures’.
When we connect with our breath, we are connecting with our earliest bodily function, our breath of life. Hearing our breath in our bodies gives us a clue into how we are feeling at that exact moment. It makes us aware of awareness itself. And once we are aware, we are able to change. If we can feel our breath, we start to also notice our physical body, we begin to feel where it is tense, where we might be holding something or if we are in pain. Breathing into the pain allows us to unblock some of the tension and negative energy that we are holding. Stiffness in the neck and shoulders, tightness in the hips or legs can be soothed by breathing into these areas and releasing.
Throughout the world, ceremonies and traditions have mindfulness at the core of their activity. A tea ceremony in Japan, a sacred ritual in a church or a yogic chant, all have a moment of reflection and calm respect at their center. I once sat crossed legged in a small tea house in Tokyo and felt a deep inner peace, away from the hustle and bustle outside as the tea was meticulously and consciously prepared, creating an atmosphere of zen without any major fanfare. Meditation can of course be practiced anywhere, a quiet corner, a yoga mat or sitting on a log on a beach, the only requirement is a daily commitment.