The 4 A's Of A Successful Meditation Practice
Many of us have a tendency to think that meditation requires us to stop what we are doing, get out our yoga mat or comfy chair, close our eyes and focus for an uncomfortable amount of time.
But how do we accomplish this when we have places to go and people to see? It seems that taking 15 minutes out of our busy day to "be still" only keeps us from getting everything done that we need to. To me it sounds more like another chore, rather than a healthy way of living. Because seriously, in the grand scheme of things — who really has time to meditate, anyway?
The answer is: we all do! Meditation is about being right here, right now, all the time. We can meditate at home, at work, in our cars —wherever we are.
I've compiled the 4 A's of meditation as a step-by-step guide, to help you realize that meditation can happen anywhere.
Being aware is the first step to any meditation. As we walk throughout the day, we can experience negative emotions (anger, anxiety, jealousy, impatience, etc.) at any given point and time. So it is vital to be aware, first and foremost, of what we are experiencing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Assessing how we are doing periodically during the day is how we take our internal inventory. As often as possible, we should ask ourselves:
- What am I thinking about?
- How am I feeling physically?
- How am I feeling emotionally?
- Do I feel connected to my higher self?
Note that being aware can be quite challenging, because more often than not, we are not in our present space. We are thinking about what happened yesterday, last year, two birthdays ago, or we are looking ahead — filling our minds with all the What Ifs ...
If we are truly focused on where we are in space and time and taking in all the beauty that life has in store for us (as opposed to focusing on the negative), our happiness and overall health levels will increase exponentially.
We may be aware of how we are feeling or thinking, but have become so accustomed to stuffing it down that we dismiss it — we simply don't want to deal. Again, we think we just don't have the time.
Theoretically however, we don't have to "deal with" our negative thought patterns and feelings on a daily basis. We simply need to acknowledge that they exist, and then release them.
For example, if at any given point and time during the day, feelings of anger, irritation, frustration arise, just acknowledge the feeling. Take a deep breath in, and invite positive words of affirmation into your headspace (peace, patience, light love, etc.), hold it there and then breathe out the negative emotions or thought patterns, deliberately releasing all tension and negativity.
This slows down our heart rate, oxygenates our brain and therefore, allows us time to think before we react. Once we react, we have to go back and mend the damage we may have caused. It's easier to nip any negativity in the bud before it even escapes our lips or explodes in the form of anger.
Once we acknowledge how we are feeling, we must accept it. Most of us have grown up in a society that tells us it is not OK to feel, and that we need to be more like programmed robots as we maneuver through our day, seemingly unfazed. Nothing bothers us; we are fine.
But the reality is that we are all human beings. We have emotions, and regardless of whether they are positive or negative; it's healthy.
What is not healthy is when we suppress or repress our emotions. In doing so, we become depressed and often, physically ill. Acceptance is key to forgiveness of both ourselves and others.
Once we are more consistently aware and have acknowledged and accepted this aspect of our being, we will begin to see great change within ourselves. Then ultimately, as we are more in tune with and accepting of ourselves, we will become more accepting of those who surround us.
We can either choose a negative course of action and allow that negativity to spread within and around us, or we can choose to be a positive light that receives light right back. Yes, we all have good and bad days or moments, but when those arise we can simply release ourselves from them — calmly, gently and peacefully.
Our actions — and even our thoughts — affect everything and everyone around us. And we have the power to change the course of our future by staying right here in the present, even if it's just for a few short moments of attentive, conscious breathing.