A quick route into meditation
We have all heard of the benefits of maintaining a regular meditation practice. Anyone I have ever met who does this regularly usually agrees that even 20 minutes once a day can bring peace, clarity and a sense of perspective to their everyday lives. An additional benefit is that this regular practice makes it easier for us to connect with that sense of spaciousness and peace when we take an odd moment during a busy day – sitting back from the desk for a moment or taking a minute to sit down and focus on our breathing.
However, there are all sorts of reasons why maintaining such a regular practise does not happen and, as with other routines which we know are beneficial for us (exercise being a prime example) once the routine gets disrupted for some reason, we often fail to return to it.
This does not have to be an ‘all or nothing’ scenario. Even if we aren’t regularly going to the gym at the moment, we can still take the stairs rather than the lift or get off the bus a stop or two earlier and walk. Likewise, even if we are not currently maintaining a meditation practise, we can still take a moment during the day to connect to the peace and clarity within the deepest part of ourselves. Disengaging from the constant activity of the mind in this way gives our whole body/mind system an opportunity to reboot and refresh.
Still, this can be easier said than done in the middle of a hectic day, especially if we didn’t experience 20 minutes of said peace and calm that morning. Techniques can help enormously and I want to share one that I was taught by a friend of mine very recently. It is incredibly simple, but can actually have a profound effect.
Simply make a point of relaxing the muscles around your mouth – particularly the lower lip. This will cause your lips to part a little. Keep focusing on relaxing them. Go on – try it now. Take a few deep breaths at the same time and then just let your breath flow naturally. Notice what is happening to your thoughts.
Even as a fairly regular meditator, with years and years of practise behind me, I have found this technique remarkably helpful. At times when I am feeling very emotional, all the techniques I would usually use to reach a sense of clarity and stillness – slowing my breath, watching my thoughts etc, can take time to work. Yet simply relaxing these muscles helps enormously. The reason is intriguing.
If you are a very ‘verbal’ person (like me), your thoughts primarily take the form of words, rather than images for example. Even when we decide to stop and relax, our thoughts can keep going. Although they are thoughts and not spoken words, our speaking muscles still make tiny, imperceptible movements called sub-vocalisations. Consciously relaxing the mouth muscles prevents this and hey presto, the thoughts subside. As this happens, we become able to listen to what is going on inside ourselves and to be fully present to what is happening around us.
Try it and see….