There is no time like the present to start or deepen a Mindfulness meditation practice. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, a wavering global economy and social unrest, 2020 has affected us all in some way or another.
The world is going through a massive, much needed transformation and we’re all along for the ride! But, as we try to get back to some kind of (new) normal, things are more confusing than ever.
More divided than ever.
More uncertain than ever.
Although much of the upheaval we’re experiencing is necessary for our world to evolve to the next level, how does one even begin to manage these stressful, unprecedented and turbulent times?
Meditation, because the only way out is IN.
As a Mindfulness meditation teacher, I feel it is no longer an option to NOT meditate, even for just a few minutes a day. Meditation is a healing salve, a life line and a tool we can use, anytime. Anywhere. It’s not just for hippies anymore!
Taking a few moments to still our minds, breathe and center ourselves can have a tremendous effect on our state of being, inside and out.
Couldn’t we all use a collective deep breath about now?
Mindfulness Meditation is a form of self care, much like brushing your teeth, exercising or taking vitamins. It’s for everyone, even children and not affiliated with any religion.
It’s a contemplative, reflective practice that applies the basic human ability to be fully present and aware of the current moment. Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and consciously can decompress your entire mind and body, even reverse a full blown anxiety or panic attack. So, “don’t just do something, sit there.”
Let’s start with the facts.
The science-based benefits of Mindfulness Meditation include:
- Lowering blood pressure and reducing stress
- Controlling anxiety and depression
- Strengthening emotional health and well being
- Enhancing self-awareness and growth
- Increasing attention span and focus
- Inspiring more kindness, compassion and peace
How about Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and reorganize itself by forming new neural connections; so important for the long term health of the brain.
Neuroplasticity is our brain’s innate technology that can literally rewire the brain, creating better habits that contribute to health, peace, and well-being, it just needs our guidance.
Other ways to boost Neuroplasticity include getting quality sleep, exercising, trying something new or learning a new skill or task. Use it or lose it, baby.
But, here’s where it gets really good. Juicy, even.
The actual experience of meditation compounds, allowing for greater and greater states of expanded awareness over time. As we continue to practice, we tap into delicious, higher states of being; unity consciousness.
Unity Consciousness is about opening the heart and going deep within to find love, real love, not the love outside of you, but the love that IS YOU, so we can be at peace, no matter what’s going on in the world.
How do you get there?
Peace is an inside job. When we use meditation to experience Unity consciousness we begin to understand that everything is interconnected. There is no separateness. No us and them. The more we understand this, the less possible it becomes for us to harm each other or the planet.
Unity consciousness will end hate.
Unity consciousness will end racism.
Unity consciousness will end inequality.
Unity consciousness allows us to see, feel and embody the spark of life and honor every living thing no matter what race, religion, color or creed.
The best part? Mindfulness meditation doesn’t have to involve hours on a pillow or a mountain, a few minutes a day will suffice.
Mindfulness involves purposely bringing your attention to the NOW so you can experience the present moment. When we are mindful of our actions, we are paying attention to what we are doing by tuning into the five senses; the complete opposite of going through the motions.
Get fully present and aware of the moment without judgement. It couldn’t be more simple, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Let’s do this.
Find a place to sit, close your eyes and bring your attention to the breath.
Follow your inhale as you breathe in.
Follow your exhale as you breathe out, feeling your lungs expand and contract, staying with the moment. Perhaps start with a balancing breath inhaling and exhaling to count of 4.
Do this for a few minutes each day, gradually increasing the time. If random thoughts occur or your attention wanders, catch yourself and return your focus to the breath again and again and again. There’s a reason they call it a practice.
Can’t sit still?
Mindfulness meditation doesn’t have to include sitting at all; if your mind and body are doing the same thing, you’re meditating. I’m serious.
Dance, run, walk, skip if you want to. Meditate while you do the dishes, eat ice cream, take a shower or gaze at a beautiful flower. Build mindfulness into your daily life, so even when you’re too busy, you’re still meditating. Meditation happens when we are in the NOW, so come to the front lines of the moment and experience the very nature of reality where love, peace and stillness abide; a beautiful place to roam.
Need more guidance?
Take a class somewhere or a private lesson on or offline. My Fit Conscious Happy practice not only shows people how to begin a Mindfulness meditation practice, but also use fitness WITH Mindfulness for a complete mind/body experience. The sessions are tailored to individual likes, tastes and ability; offered online or in person.
There are also millions of books and mobile apps on Mindfulness, it just takes a little research. It’s important to find a style or teacher that is right for you.
For example, host your own solo retreat with, “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat” by Sylvia Boorstein. This beautiful book guides you to create your own DIY, meditation retreat based on the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the Godfather of Mindfulness meditation.
Meditation is a journey and what journey is complete without music? Grab a track from Jai Uttal, the Grammy nominated, sacred music composer, multi-instrumentalist, ecstatic vocalist and one of the foremost Bhakti influencers in the West. I’ve been a fan of his music for over 20 years and had the honor to catch up with and interview him last week.
His music is a blend of stimulating, exotic, multi-cultural fusion, combining influences from India, American rock and jazz to create a sound that is truly world spirit music. If you want to dance your meditation, he’s your guy.
Jai had his first encounter with Eastern Indian music at age 17, attending a concert by Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, which proved to be a life-changing experience. “Music entered my heart like the source of all life.” he said and was soon studying sarod with him in Northern California. Jai’s time with Maestro Khan totally transformed his relationship to sound and music itself.
Want to sing? Kirtan may be for you, because nothing opens the heart more than chanting, especially with Jai!
Music and spiritual practice became inextricably linked for Jai when he met the great Indian saint, Neem Karoli Baba, in 1971. Maharajji, as he was called by his devotees, encouraged the practice of Bhakti (devotional) Yoga as expressed through kirtan, the call-and-response chanting of sacred mantras and service. Kirtan would become the center of Jai’s musical and spiritual life, giving him what he calls his “soul support system.”
Following his highly acclaimed double album, Roots Rock Rama! Jai’s latest release comes as a direct response to the current global crisis.
Gauri’s Lullaby: Music for Healing and Other Joys, is “sonic medicine to calm hearts, relax minds and bodies, and help find ease during this intense period of time.” says Jai of the album which consists of four, acoustic guitar meditations, inspired by his many years of study with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Use it as your own personal lullaby, allowing it to wash over and heal you with each indelible note. Sonic medicine, indeed.
Gauri’s Lullaby: Music for Healing and Other Joys
Click here to listen to it on Spotify:
Want more Jai? Search on Youtube for his entire collection and there’s more at www.jaiuttal.com
Make sure to onnect with him on Instagram and Facebook. Every Tuesday at 1:08 pm – PST, he hosts free 40 minute Kirtan sessions. The last one inspired me to rise from my desk and dance and sing into my backyard here in Joshua Tree.
Want to go deeper? Jai will be holding an online version of his annual Kirtan Camp later this month. The four week long program begins June 30, and goes until July 28. Anyone interested in learning more or signing up should see https://house-of-bhakti.jaiuttal.com/.
Although humanity is transforming at an accelerated pace, it happens one person at a time. If everyone took care of their own ‘stuff’ first and got mindful, aware and conscious, our world would be a different place. A better place. We would completely transform from a duality based existence (3D) to one of unity consciousness (5d), where love, peace, compassion and equality prevail.
Are we ready?