Consistency Counts

Consistency
In some ways, meditation can be compared to sports.
If you train for a day and then slack off for a week, you won’t make much progress.

In fact, you may end up straining a muscle or hurting your back. This is why fitness gurus recommend consistency with your workouts. It allows your body to get in shape gradually… and then keep on improving.

When you practice meditation, you’re developing your mental and emotional muscles: concentration, mindfulness, and receptive awareness.

Consistency is the key here, too. You need to keep it up and keep it regular, no matter how you’re feeling from day to day.

Fortunately, your feelings can provide fodder for your meditation practice, as you expand your awareness from your breath to include the full range of your experience.  There’s no special way you need to be – just show up and be yourself!

As one old Chinese Zen master used to say, “Sun-faced Buddha, moon-faced Buddha.”

In other words,
Happy or sad, energetic or tired, just sit as the being you happen to be.

 

Photo credit: Kristin Kokkersvold

How to Relax

This guy is NOT relaxed

Just Relax….

One of the most common instructions when learning to meditate is to start by relaxing. Because knowing how to relax your mind and your body is necessary to get into a meditative state.

But what if the place you get stuck is the “just relax” part?

What if you’re more skilled at getting tense than getting relaxed?

No problem, Grasshopper. We can play to your strengths.

Begin by getting into a comfortable position – maybe sitting in a supportive chair, or lying down on the sofa or your bed.

Next, we’re going to get tense… REALLY TENSE!

Start by taking in a breath. Hold it, and then make tight fists with both hands. Now bring that fist energy up your arms by flexing your forearms, then your biceps and upper arms.

By this time, you may be clenching your fists so hard that they’re trembling a little.

Good. Very good.

Still holding your breath, let’s move to your face and head. Really “squench” up your face. Try to engage every single muscle of your face and around your ears. And then your neck.

Moving down your body, flex those pecs! Keep holding your fists, your breath, and everything else you’ve flexed so far.

Now your belly. Now your butt. Thighs, knees, calves, ankles…. and finally, your feet and toes.

Got it? TWO MORE SECONDS….

OK!

Release….

Breathe…

Wow. Feel the difference?

This is what relaxing feels like. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves, our muscles, by going to the other extreme.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled meditation…..

 

Photo credit: Allan Foster