Meditate on it . What does that really mean? Sometimes I think I say that to buy myself more time to just go somewhere quiet and ruminate some more. But there’s a better way.
A friend was talking about how overwhelmed she has been by many trials and tribulations, and all the things she has been trying to do to quell her body and mind. Her meditation teacher told her to sloooowww down. And that she needed to get out of her head.
Wise teacher with advice in keeping with most every sage, master, religion, and prophet’s message. About the best thing we can do when life is running us ragged or we are experiencing difficult emotions is to forget trying to figure out how to solve them, and to “simply” get out of our heads. Easier said than done. It is the answer though.
If we want real answers, they are usually not found in our brains, nor our devices; nope, they are deep in our hearts. We just have to get quiet enough to hear it. But how do we get to that place? Simple. By Breathing our way in. This, I believe, is what it means “to meditate on it.”
There are two basic kinds of meditation– one for calming the mind, the other is for insight, and “clear” or “special-seeing.” There are many, many ways to relax our minds. And, like everything, we all have our own styles and preferences on the way that works for us. Turning your attention to the most basic and natural function of living—breathing—is the fastest way to calm down. Just as your stress level can affect your breath, mindful breathing can alleviate your stress.
Running, walking, swimming, breath exercises, these all are ways to get into a rhythm that is oxygenating, stress reducing, and ultimately mind clearing and calming. Guided meditations and mantras do the same by giving us a focal point, away from our ruminating thoughts.
Breath prayer,* an ancient Christian prayer practice with origins with the Desert Fathers and Mothers, is a way to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) It is a simple way to relax your body and fills you with comfort, love and the reminder; you are not alone.
A simple practice: Set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes, sit up with a straight spine, legs crossed in front of you if you can.
Inhale through your nose-gently, from deep in your belly, saying quietly to yourself; “Lord;”
Exhale our your mouth long and slow say quietly to yourself; “Have mercy.”
Be kind to yourself as you do this. Smile, and return to the practice when your thoughts begin to interrupt the flow. See if you can maintain this rhythm for five minutes.
* For more information on Breath Prayer see https://gravitycenter.com/practice/breath-prayer/
Some gentle thoughts, from the gentle Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, on practicing breathing….