This meditation is for everyday people who may find themselves, suddenly, sharing close quarters with others with few opportunities for to get quiet and still. Working from home, schooling your kids, trying to figure out what this new normal is - there’s a lot here to work with, so let’s get to it.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, without putting yourself or anyone else in danger, just begin to notice - let’s start with our body - if you’re cooking, feel your hands as they tend to your task, be aware of the textures, smells, and sights before you. If you’re sitting or resting back, feel the chair or couch against the back of your body - notice if it’s hard or soft - if you’re working as you listen, feel the temperature of the room around your body and notice the sensation of your breath as it enters your nostrils. Notice if there is any tension in your face, jaw, shoulders, chest, or tummy.
Whatever you find as you pay attention to your body, let it be what it is.
Next, feel your breath fill your body, feel your body respond to your breath. Whatever activity you’re engaged in - notice if your breath is jagged or smooth, if it’s shallow or deep - are you holding your breath? In these times, we are aware that each breath is a gift - so feel your breath fill your body, feel your body respond to your breath - nothing to change, fix, or have be different. Allow your body to be breathed and observe. If an impulse arises to deepen or slow your breath arises - allow that to happen without pushing, or straining.
Whatever you find as you pay attention to your inhales and exhales, let it be what it is.
Next, notice that as you’ve been listening, your brain has continued to offer thoughts - just as your heart has offered beats and your lungs have offered breath, it’s quite possible that you’ve even missed some of what I’ve said because your brain offered thoughts that swiped your attention away from this exercise. That’s normal. We live our lives immersed in an almost unending cognitive onslaught of thought - but just as you observed your body and your breath, you can observe your thoughts.
Take a step back from your thought stream, calmly watching them as if they were cars passing by as you sat safely at a sidewalk cafe, savoring your favorite treat with a beloved friend - you wouldn’t climb aboard each vehicle that passed, allowing it take you away from where you intended to be - and you don’t have to ride your train of thought away from the present moment. Notice if your brain is offering thoughts that have to do with the future - planning, aspiring, hoping, rehearsing some imagined conversation or encounter. Notice if your brain is offering thoughts that have to do with the past - remembering, longing, wishing things were like they were before. Perhaps your brain is offering thoughts about the present - analyzing, criticizing, making a list of things you do and do not like about right now.
Maybe there will be a bit more space between your thoughts, maybe not. Nothing to solve, nothing to figure out. Just watching your thoughts come and go. Notice what your brain is offering in this moment, and whatever state your mind is in, let it be what it is.
Next, turn your awareness toward the emotional truth you bring to this moment. Say to yourself, “I feel,” and then name what you notice. If your sentence goes “I feel that this is a total waste of time or the best meditation ever” that’s not a feeling - it’s a thought. I feel happy. I feel sad. I feel frustrated. I feel peaceful. I feel numb. I feel fear. I feel grateful. I feel guilty. I feel hopeful. Notice that emotional truth is often complex - you can hold two seemingly opposite feelings at the same time. Name them as they arise - and just as we don’t have to immerse ourselves in unblessed or troubled waters, notice that you can make your emotional truth without being swept away. If you feel overwhelm and cry - it’s okay. Be with the tears. If you feel joy and dance - let yourself dance.
Whatever you find as you pay attention to your emotional truth, let it be what it is.
Now, without effort or drama, get curious - who is it there that is able to notice the body, the breath, the thoughts, and the emotions? What aspect of your consciousness is able to observe, name, and notice these phenomena as they arise? This is your wise observer self - your steadfast witness, who is able to discern without judging, to allow what is without adding a narrative, story, or reason to that which is observed. This is the part of the self that can let things be what they are, and be present with them - aware, awake, and alive.
This observer is available to you at any time - at any time you can stop and notice your body, your breath, your thoughts, and your emotions - and know, with great certainty - that you are in your body, but you are not your body. You rely on thinking to navigate your commitments, but you are not your thoughts. Your feelings give you important information about the world around you, but you are not your emotions.
Get curious about who, then you are - feel for a moment the vastness of yourself, your soul - that part of your that can not die because it was not born, who you were before your parents met, that which is holy, sanctified, and connected to nature and All That Is.
And at the same time - here, vulnerable in this body and in this world.
Go back to whatever it is that needs your attention - and notice that, perhaps, there is more space, grace, and allowing.
Whatever you notice next, let it be what it is.
Ease Mountain Yoga & Nourishing Arts
9573 Highway 9
Ben Lomond, CA 95005