Tag Archives: Meditation

Be Still

I am a natural born fidgeter.  I can’t help it.  I just can’t be still.  When standing up, I find myself mindlessly swaying from side to side.  When sitting down, I am tapping my foot or swinging my legs back and forth.  I can’t even sit still at the dinner table.  Even when I am out for meals with friends, I continue to slide the water glasses and salad plates around the table.  I twist plastic straws into impossible knots.  I spin the butter knives around in fast circles and build towers with the condiment bottles.  One night, as a friend and I were waiting for our food at PF Chang’s, I spun my chopsticks nimbly around my fingers before beating the wooden utensils against the table as if I was the drummer in a rock and roll band.  I only stopped my performance when our server offered me a wrapped set of chopsticks while saying, “You were having so much fun with those chopsticks I thought you would like to take some home with you.”

I have an extremely hard time relaxing my mind as well.  Anxiety, stress, and depression have been constant companions for years.  I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind spinning from events of the day.  I can’t even fall asleep most nights because my constant mind chatter refuses to quiet down.

My endless need to fidget is the main reason I started learning yoga poses and Tai Chi movements.  I couldn’t sit still in meditation, which was something I have wanted to do for years.  I yearned to meditate just so I could experience a sense of calmness, of peacefulness, that I always heard was a benefit of the practice.  I wanted to feel a connection to the universe that I believed meditation could provide.  I wanted to let my mind roam free.  I could feel moments of peace when I was in the mountains or by the ocean.  But I don’t always have the opportunity to be out in nature, so I truly wanted to train myself to sit in stillness and experience peace no matter where I might be.

About two weeks ago, I finally decided that if I truly wanted to practice meditation, I would just have to force myself into silence.  I had read several books on meditation, but reading doesn’t help if there’s no follow through.  I didn’t want to play at this anymore.  It was time to get serious or let it go.  I had developed more spiritually and I was slowly developing a new perspective on life over the last few years.  For some reason, I felt that this was my time.  I was ready to trust in the universe.

So, on June 25, I turned off my computer, put away my books, and set my timer.  I told myself to just remain as still as I possibly could for just ten minutes, which really isn’t a long time.  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and began counting backwards from 100.  I was surprised how easily I suddenly felt my spirit slip away from my body and from all of the things of this world that had been holding me down.  I didn’t dwell on any thoughts that drifted through my mind.  I just let all emotions and thoughts pass right through me.  And I felt my spirit lifting, rising higher as my body surprisingly began to vibrate with energy.  I was surprised when I finally opened my eyes to find that I had drifted away from this world for over eight minutes!  Because this first session was such a positive experience, I decided to try again the next night.  Once more, I emerged from my meditation with the same sense of peace and bliss that I had experienced that first night.

I don’t want to  fall out of practice, so every night, at around 9 pm, I set my alarm for 10 minutes and let my spirit slip away.  The meditation becomes easier each time I practice.  To my surprise, I am able to block out all the mental chatter and clear my mind as I force my body to relax and sit still.

My biggest challenge to this new ritual, however, occurred on Independence Day, July 4th.  Once more, I set my timer for 10 minutes, took a deep breath…and suddenly popped my eyes back open when a loud firework exploded outside my window.  The noise caused our three dogs to bark and whine hysterically.  I opened my eyes to find that our little Shih Tzu, Starburst, had wandered into my room and was now jumping up on my legs as she whimpered pitifully.  I got up from my chair, shut my bedroom door, and then picked up the dog and placed her on my lap.  I reset my timer and took another deep breath, counting backwards on the exhale.


Suddenly, another loud pop and crackle came from somewhere in the neighborhood.  The two dogs in the living room where jumping between the couches as they growled and barked.  Starburst shuddered and jerked as she dug her claws deeper into my right leg.  Oh, my gosh, this was just crazy.  I was trying to leave this world behind and float away into the universe while fireworks sizzled and popped outside, and three dogs whined, barked, and howled inside the house.

And there I was…in the middle of all of this chaos…laughing!

Instead of letting myself get annoyed and upset by all of the noise like I normally would, I couldn’t stop laughing over the situation.  And suddenly the feeling of peace and bliss that I had been experiencing the last few nights started to vibrate through my body.  And instead of getting distracted, I had the best meditation that night because I didn’t let myself get aggravated.  I just enjoyed the craziness of the moment and kept myself calm in the midst of all the commotion.

And suddenly, that’s when I understood the true importance of meditation!  I realized that I needed to keep meditating because it was teaching me that I didn’t have to give in to panic and stress.  I didn’t have to allow myself to become anxious or afraid or frustrated anymore.  I could remain calm even when everything around me was spinning in turmoil.  I can hold on to my inner strength, my inner focus.  After six minutes of meditation on July 4th, I opened my eyes and cuddled Starburst closer to me and kissed her on the head.  I felt love and gratefulness for everything I had and wanted to keep the feeling of happiness and peace going in my life.  I’ve continued to meditate every night and can already see a change after just two weeks.  I am learning to live in peace now without stress, anxiety, or depression.  Life will always be chaotic, difficult, and messy at times; that’s just what life is.  But meditation will always help me find my inner strength, my inner guidance, and will lead me back to God and his plan for my life.  God wants me to live in peace.  He wants me to be happy.  And I have discovered a way to honor God’s plan for me.

Be still and know that I am God.

Dear God, I am learning to be still….



Learning Mindfulness

I tend to be a worrier.  I admit that I can stress out over little things.  I can ponder small details late into the night as I struggle to slip off to sleep.  Over the past couple of weeks, my biggest worry has been the winter weather. The winter season always puts me in a state of apprehension.  Even though I know there is nothing I can do about it, I dread hearing forecasts of upcoming bad weather.

Even though I grew up in Kansas, I still am uncomfortable with the freezing temperatures and snow or ice storms that usually begin in late October and last through March and, sometimes, into early April.  Though I have been back in Kansas now for two and a half years, I still don’t do well, physically or emotionally, in winter.  I’m at the age now when my knees begin to ache to different degrees as the temperatures begin to fall.  I don’t like driving on freezing roads and I continue to worry about my family as they travel to and from work.  I can become depressed when the days are shorter and colder.  So for three days last week, I was in a constant state of apprehension as snow, rain, sleet, and freezing rain drizzled down over the Midwest from Tuesday until Thursday.  Many people were not able to get into their cars due to the ice that covered the doors and sealed the vehicles tightly shut.  The streets and parking lots were turned into mock ice rinks as people who made it into their cars now tried to maneuver on pure sheets of ice.  Even the grass was crunchy with ice particles that crackled and shattered underfoot.

But eventually, as with all storms, the skies began to clear, and by the following week, all traces of winter had disappeared.  On Monday, February 26, the skies were bright with sunshine, and the temperature had warmed up to a balmy 61 degrees.

I should have been happy with the change in the weather.  I should have left the house and gone to the lake or the park and enjoyed the gorgeous blue skies and the comfortable temperatures.  But instead, I stayed inside and tried to complete a few mundane tasks.  I needed to clean my bedroom and do the laundry.  I wanted to complete the short story I had been working on for a few weeks and finish up some paperwork.  I needed to prepare for upcoming classes and workshops that were scheduled for next month.  I had so much to do today before I returned to work tomorrow…and, of course, I began to stress over completing all the task I had set for myself this afternoon.  I choose to concentrate on minor concerns and ignored the glowing sunshine that lit up this singularly beautiful day.

But I didn’t let the dogs miss out on enjoying the good weather.  While I stayed inside the house, I put all four dogs out in the backyard.  I didn’t think they would stay out long.  Usually, they have a hard time making up their minds if they want to be inside or out.  I think they just like making me get up and continually open the door for them as they run back and forth.  I was having none of that nonsense today, though.  I had too much to do and too little time.  So, early in the afternoon, I put the dogs in the back yard and went back to my room to work.  I completely lost track of the time and suddenly realized that I had left the dogs outside for over two hours.  I was only reminded of the situation when I heard loud barking and rough scratching against the back door.  When I swung open the French style doors, three of the dogs ran around my legs and quickly into the house.  Only three?  Uh-oh, one of the dogs was missing.  I looked at Greg, Friskie, and Cowboy as I realized Starburst wasn’t with them.  I sighed deeply and opened the back door again.  I glanced around the backyard until I finally spotted little Starburst, our furry shih tzu.

“Starburst?”  I called out to her.  But she didn’t move.  “Starburst, come in.”

But she was completely undisturbed by my shouts.  She just laid there in the grass like an Egyptian sphinx.  Her back legs were tucked under her body and her front legs were stretched directly out in front of her.  Her head was held up regally as if she was descended from a long line of royalty.

“Starburst,” I called to her again, and once more she ignored me.

Then the dog slowly raised her head up higher and tilted her face directly up to the sun.  “Oh my gosh,” I thought as I watched her, “our little shih tzu had become a sun goddess.”  Starburst continued to sunbathe in the warm glow of the afternoon as she appeared to enjoy the feel of the gentle breeze in her long white and brown fur.  As I watched her, a revelation suddenly occurred to me.  Starburst was in the yard enjoying the wonderful weather while I had locked myself inside the house and stayed surrounded with worry and useless busyness.  All that mattered to Starburst in that moment was just to be at one with nature and at peace with herself.  The contented expression on her face left no doubt that she was happy within her own spirit.  No other thought seemed to occur to her.  She was just joyfully in the moment.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed with all of the things I imagined I needed to accomplish this afternoon.  I sat down on the back porch and stared at the white puffy clouds that drifted across the blue sky.  And I realized then that Starburst had it right.  All that mattered was to be mindful in this moment of bright sunshine and warm temperatures.

Starburst turned her head then to look at me and I swear that dog smiled.  Knowing that I, too, was at peace now, she turned her head straight again, took a long deep breath, and relaxed into the moment.

And so did I.

It didn’t matter if I needed to clean my room, do my laundry, or finish writing my story.  The dog and I sat outside just enjoying the unusual afternoon…

…and I knew then that everything was just right in the world today.