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Quieting the Mind

Sometimes, we have so much going on in our life that our brain creates an endless stream of mind chatter that doesn't even stop when we want to go to sleep. We lie awake in bed, either rehashing something that happened in the past or worrying about the future. How helpful it is, then, to have a meditation practice that we can fall back on when our 'monkey mind' is taking over.

We all know that trying to start a new meditation practice when we are stressed out isn't easy! If our mind is doing the hamster wheel thing, we may try to find some peace to calm our thoughts down. We'll find a quiet place, and then we sit and wait for inner peace. What often happens, though, is that our mind chatter continues incessantly despite the good intentions of meditating. So, after a few minutes, we get frustrated and scrap the idea of meditation altogether, saying that we simply 'can't' meditate. And so, the stress cycle continues.

But, what if we had a meditation practice already in place, then all we'd have to do when we are stressed is to tap into that habit. It really isn't as hard, as we often believe, to get into the routine of meditating. The most important steps to take is to carve some time out for yourself at the same time every day, whether morning, noon, or evening. This will get you into the routine of taking some quiet time in a sacred space for yourself.

In the beginning, you might try just five minutes. Sit comfortably, first focusing on grounding and centering yourself. Then, start breathing into your lower belly, exhaling twice as long as you inhale. Some people start with an in-breath of 5 and an out-breath of 10. Do whatever feels comfortable for you.

Don't worry if thoughts pop into your head during your meditation. Acknowledge them, and see them as passing clouds. Then, get back to focusing on your breath. As Zen Master, Shunryu Suzuki liked to say: "Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don't serve them tea."

You will see, with practice, the amount of time your mind is actually in a peaceful place will get longer and longer. If you do this on a daily basis, you will soon have a solid meditation practice that you can fall back on in times of stress.

© Erika Marie Rose and Good Vibes, 2020

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