Major tip of the year! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest Barnes & Noble, or online site of your choice, and get the new Adele21 CD. It is an amazing feat of songwriting and soulful singing. Inferences of R&B, country, jazz, rock, even some spirituals are evident. The whole album is even and consistent with what could be hit after hit. Enjoy and dance—it’s great music to move to.
I played it all the way down to Princeton and back where I gave a presentation to the leadership club at Mercer County Community College. Needless to say, it was a joyous psych-up.
The students at the college were such beautiful, wise souls for me to connect with. They are at the beginning of their journeys, but from a guided visualization they came up with such truisms as “the road will have some speed bumps” and “believe in yourself”. It was so great to help them access their inner wisdom—the same wisdom that is available to all of us, just waiting to inform and guide us if we listen and give it the space to speak.
I talked to them about the importance of taking the time to get to know themselves, and from that will come a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives that is personal for them. By taking time to tune out all of the outer distractions and tune into their inner voice, a rich relationship develops that has numerous payoffs, not the least of which is the ability to support themselves, stand by their core, and develop courage to live the lives they desire.
One student asked how to meditate. I explained the simplicity of my practice: find a quiet place, ground yourself by placing both feet on the floor, and follow your breath in and out of your belly for twenty minutes, morning and evening.
On the days that I miss my meditation for one reason or other, I really miss it and feel more scattered and off balance during the day.
For the people who find it hard to sit still (the younger me included), you can do a moving meditation while running, biking, swimming, or doing yoga. The point is to slow down and relax the busy, monkey mind from chasing every thought that passes through. There’s a time for everything: a time to think, a time to not think—ebb and flow.
At the beginning, it is easy to hook into your thoughts. You hear yourself thinking “This is a waste of time,” “I should be doing any number of other, more productive things,” or “I can’t do this—something is wrong with me because I find this impossible to do.” It is interesting to notice all this chatter and to realize, this is probably what your mind does all the time, just under your conscious awareness. No wonder you feel so drained and tired at times…
Meditation is a lifelong practice. Thoughts still occur, but as you get more and more used to calming your body and mind down, you actually stop paying attention to those thoughts. Like clouds drifting by overhead, they come, they go, but your being is calm, centered, and grounded. Then you realize that while sitting in traffic or standing in one of the many lines we find ourselves in, you can just go to your belly and relax into your being.
From this place, really good ideas form, creativity flourishes, feelings have room to go through you: to be felt and let go. The mind is no longer frantic or worried or compulsively planning the future, but actually relaxed and present to what is here. Right here, right now. The only moment we truly have.
Kindness is called for in developing this practice habit. It is counter-productive to beat yourself up for not being able to calm your thoughts. Don’t let that trickster take hold. Just lovingly go back to your breath and your belly.