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Have you ever read or watched Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert? When her life crumbled, she decided to go to Italy, India, and eventually Bali, Indonesia. In Bali, one of the scenes was where she was having a hard time to sit still and ignore the fly (or mosquito?) when she tried to meditate. I think that’s how many of us experience meditation for the first time. But, meditation doesn’t have to be sitting in silent for an extended period.
In the Western countries, we are so used to running around at full speed all day long. We spend at least 8 hours at work, 2 hours of commute (if we’re lucky), and then we fill our free time with countless social activities for the kids and ourselves. It’s a wonder if we can sit still for 10 minutes without the endless to-do list running through our mind.
My life recently took a major turn similar to Gilbert’s story in Eat Pray Love. Well, I didn’t get to go to Italy and India, but I did end up in Bali for a while. I am Indonesian, but I had spent 16+ years in the United States. In a way, I had been westernized.
I worked in the pastry kitchen for 7 years. I ran around the kitchen all day long with a 30-minute break that I often skipped when we were in busy season. Outside work, l went hiking on the weekends, participated in competitions and volunteered both in my pastry and general community.
When life required me to move back to Indonesia, I was having a hard time adjusting back to the pace of life here. Everything moves at a SLOWER pace.
I was dealing with immense grief too from losing my life in the United States. Like Gilbert who was trying to find peace and love through meditation practices in an Indian ashram and a Balinese village, I was using meditation to help me cope with my grief.
I must admit I couldn’t sit still for more than 20 minutes. But, meditation is not about sitting still. It’s about being mindful with our thoughts. It’s about connecting to your higher self and what you belief as the higher power in your life.
How To Meditate
In his article Meditation for Everybody: 7 Styles to Try, Frank Jude Boccio explains the benefits and the different styles of mediation you can try when you are starting out.
I have adopted 4 out of the 7, and here’s my own take on how I practice them:
1. Conscious breathing
Negative thoughts ran through my mind like a broken record throughout my ordeal. There were moments when it all felt too much and all I could do was focusing on my breathing. It helped quiet the chatters in my mind.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Let everything dissolves for the moment. Let go of the past and focus on the now.
2. Mantra recitation
I believe in God. Even though my faith took a major beating, I still trust in Him. When my own words fail to express my feelings, I resort to simple prayers, such as:
– You are the God that gives and takes away.
– You have a plan to prosper us, not harm us.
Or you can learn the ancient mantras commonly associated with meditation such as “Om” (meaning “it is, will be or to become”), “Om Mani Padme Hum” (which means “Hail the Jewel in the Lotus” – the Buddha of Compassion), or “Namo Amitabha” (meaning “I seek refuge in the Amitabha Buddha”).
Others would suggest the use of mandalas or geometric shapes to focus your thoughts during meditation.
In my case, I am using my vision board for the new life I am building as my visualization. My whole life literally had crumbled into pieces. But, the beauty of losing everything is that you get a blank canvas to paint your new life.
So, during the meditation session, I get to paint my new life.
4. Moving meditation
I have been a very active person. So, sitting still for an extended period is out of the question.
But, you can still practice meditation while you’re walking leisurely in the park or the forest (Learn about Shinrin-yoku here).
You can also do it while you are doing yoga and other Eastern physical exercises like Qi Gong and Tai Chi. You are moving your body purposefully while you are engaging the mind and focus on the present.
(This last one is my own form of meditation. It helps quiet the negative chatters in my mind.)
5. Listening to inspiring Christian music
When I doubt my own faith, the encouraging words from the songs remind me what my heart knows to be true. I sing along and dance around to the music as if no one is listening and watching. I refuse to succumb to the negative thoughts that my mind creates.
These practices help me get through my moments of grief, depression and anxiety. Nowadays, they have been ingrained into my routines. Whenever I am anxious about the future, I resort to these practices, center myself again and take it one day at a time.
Practicing Meditation at Home
It would have been nice to practice meditation by the stream of a river in the middle of the woods somewhere. The trickling of the water, the fresh smell of the woods and the birds chirping in the background would have been lovely.
(Photo Credit: Bill Witherspoon)
As I am house-bound for the moment, I carve a little corner in the house for my meditation practice. All I need is my yoga mat, soothing background music, and my Peace Reed Aromatherapy Diffuser to simulate the smell of the woods. If I do my practice at night (or if I am indulging by taking a long bath for my self-care routine), I would also light up my Peace Spa Candle.
Both the diffuser and candle produce the exotic, balancing earth/woods smells from the perfect combination of frankincense, myrrh and palo santo essential oils. I choose something with frankincense and myrrh as they relate to the story of the Phoenix, which is my spirit animal (You can read about that Phoenix story here). It seems fitting to me. There is a whole science-backed evidence of utilizing essential oils for our well-being. For the purpose of this post, the smells help transport me into the woods in my mind.
If you’re interested in utilizing aromatherapy products as part of your meditation practices, check out my affiliate link for Rare Essence Aromatherapy products. They provide 100% all-natural, artisan made in the USA products ranging from essential oils, candles, diffusers, room mists, and much more.
You can Choose Your Mood with rareEARTH Naturals Authentic Aromatherapy. They have refreshing citrus, floral, exotic, herbal or spicy aroma to help you relax and entice your senses during your meditation practices. I happen to love the outdoorsy wood aroma.
You can use these products for yourself or give them as a gift for someone you know who is going through a hard time to help them heal.
I hope this article helps convince you to give meditation a try. You don’t have to spend a long time of sitting still to meditate. Pick any one method I mention above to start with. Practice it for 5 or 10 minutes daily. Add another method and so on till they become a routine.
What do you think? Would you give meditation a try?
If you have been practicing meditation, how has it help you overcome your challenges?
Please share this article if you find it helpful. Thanks.
Frank Jude Boccio, Meditation for Everybody: 7 Styles to Try, https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/meditation-for-eveybody