Each Sunday evening .. after some pondering and tapping away .. I send out the Monday Meditation Musings. The email is designed to hit your inbox and give you an inspirational kick-start to your week .. provide a little meditative nourishment, a telling quote, maybe a different view of the potential in the week ahead. You can sign up for Monday Meditation Musings via the link in sidebar .. and I will try to post the entry here occassionally too!
Monday Meditation Musings : 25 Jan 2010 (extract .. because it was a long one)
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit" (Aristotle)
Probably the most common hurdle people have with their meditation practice, is how to actually remember to practice! Despite good intentions, sometimes life just 'gets in the way', and busy-ness and doing-ness take over .. and before you know it you are getting ready to sleep, having not taken a break all day.
Be it meditation .. enjoying lunch away from the desk, or taking a walk during the day .. these are all activites that we know will make us feel refreshed and balanced, and reduce our stress and tension .. ie. they are positive habits we need to cultivate.
Studies show that as much as 45% of what we do every day is habitual, and most of us perform the same actions, in the same manner, at the same time every day, without really thinking at all .. because of subtle triggers. The secret then to creating positive habits lies in tying certain behaviour to habitual cues, or setting up triggers that will interrupt us when busy and remind us of our good intentions.
I am a big proponent of 'Spot' meditations these are practices that are usually very simple, brief, and able to be done anywhere, many times a day. A spot meditation enables us to apply the skill of meditation in the thick of every day life. When we include spot meditations throughout our day we continually manage and 'wash off' some of the stress that accumulates, which is often more effective than waiting until overwhelmed and trying to fix the situation once the 'horse has bolted'. Setting up triggers to remind us to rest for a moment, take a breath, stop the mind chatter .. rests the body and mind so that once back on task we are more focussed and energised.
So how do we remember to do even Spot Meditations .. what type of triggers are useful?
* For many years tied to a computer I set a screen saver to show the word 'BREATHE', so when returning to my desk I had an instant reminder to take a moment and .. breathe
* PeacePulse inspires us to take a minute of silence .. 'to take Pressure Off and turn personal Power On'. The vision for PeacePulse is 'of millions of people with different beliefs, mindsets and attitudes choosing to share silence, hourly, around the world' (www.peacepulse.org)
*Peter Russell is a scientist (physics, psychology and computing from Cambridge) and teacher of meditation and found he often got caught up in is day and forgot about his intention to be mindful. He has set up a tool online (you can download for offline use) where at random intervals a message (or sound .. I like the Tibetan bell) suggests you pause for a moment (http://www.peterrussell.com/ToM/index.php)
*If you have the very popular iPhone try the popular Meditation Timer (SimpleTouch Software, $1.99) .. a soothing bell that lets you know it's time to come out, and a big counter that allows you to peek to see how much time you have left.
* A sticker on the car steering wheel, a note beside the bed or an inspiring photo on your fridge to remind you of your intention.
* I often give out meditation bracelets (just a simple bracelet of coloured thread) that is designed to act as visual reminder to take a moment to touch that stillness within. When reaching out for something, at the wheel of the car or doing the dishes, we see the bracelet on our wrist and are reminded to come back to the breath, to be present and aware.
* My meditation cushion sits in the corner of my living room as a gentle reminder .. my friend is waiting patiently for me to just sit and take a moment to turn inward.