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The weather has shifted, the lights have lifted and we are in the full swing of the holiday season. With that comes shopping for gifts, time spent with family and… yes, stress. Let’s face it, all the holiday planning and spending extra time with colorful personalities in our families, and/or missing loved ones who are no longer with us, can lead to chaos in the mind and in our lives.
This holiday season tries moving into a stress-free zone with a daily meditation practice. Meditating offers an opportunity for the mind to relax, recalibrate and rejuvenate. It’s a time to just be. There is no place to go, nothing to do, but to be still and present. Sometimes our mind goes into overload. Meditation allows us to let go of all the garbage and chatter that is swirling around in our head.
I love the way the late Kundalini Yogi Master, Yogi Bhajan, describes it. He said, “If when meditating — all your garbage does not come out to greet you — you are probably not meditating.”
When I first started meditating, it was challenging for me. Quiet the mind? How? We have so much garbage and so many thoughts running around in our heads. So I started to experiment. There are many types of meditation. You can try Guided Meditation. This type of meditation paints a picture or story of peace and serenity in your mind’s eye. That way you have something to focus on. Then there is Mindfulness Meditation, the act of being aware of your thoughts, physical sensations and surroundings. And my all-time favorite, Kundalini Meditation which uses mantra (sound), mudra (hand positions) breath work and body movement. These are just a few. So if one doesn’t work for you, try another.
Keep in mind, meditation is not about being perfect. So don’t get caught up feeling that you are doing it wrong.
Watch your breath. Allow the breath to enter into your body through the crown chakra, top of the skull and send it on a path to your center, your core. You can visualize it as a white healing light.
As thoughts enter your mind, just let them float past you like clouds. This is what meditators call, “being the observer of the thoughts”. When we merely observe them, we detach from them. This allows you to break the patterns that are not serving you.
Meditating has allowed me to understand that the perceptions in our minds are just an assemblage of impressions and impressions are not facts. We can have hundreds and thousands of opinions on one single event. These are just perceptions, not facts. So detach from the story you are creating in your mind. I have to give credit to my spiritual teacher Guru Singh for that one.
Just be and allow the act of meditation to shift your awareness. Soon you will find your perception shifting. You will find that when the mind is calm, it’s most conducive to problem-solving. You will start to become more present and more productive.
And if you find yourself in the midst of stress, feeling at your wit’s end, just take several slow deep breaths. This gives you a way to escape the chaos of those challenging times.
Here’s a simple yet powerful Kundalini meditation: 'I am, I AM.'
The complete mantra is ‘I am, I AM’. ‘I am’ is the finite and ‘I AM’ is the Infinite and the mind must shuttle between the two. ~Yogi Bhajan.
Posture: Sit with the legs crossed on the floor or sit on a chair with the feet flat on the floor. Hands on the knees or thighs, eyes closed, spine straight in. Tuck the chin down slightly. Inhale and exhale deeply 3 times. Then repeat the following in easy rhythm for 11 minutes.
I am - Simultaneously bring the right palm to the left chest.
I AM - Simultaneously bring the left palm to right chest and return the right hand to the leg.
I am - Again, bring the right palm to the left chest and return the left hand to the leg.
I AM - Again, bring the left palm to right chest and return the right hand to the leg.
Keep repeating this cycle. Start with 3 minutes. You can work your way up to 11 minutes. When finished, inhale deeply and relax.