Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Meditate When You Can't Sit Still: The Ultimate Guide

Rachel Ducker Wire Sculpture
             Today, I inadvertently came up with a way to relax my brain and release myself from all my racing thoughts for 30 minutes. 

Have you ever tried to clear your head for half an hour and breathe deeply? 

Have you ever tried to stop the thoughts pounding your brain, problems encroaching your clarity and the to-do list preventing you from slowing your breathing?

 I have tried. Many times. Only to have one of three things happen......

1. The phone rings WITHIN 20 SECONDS 
2. A voice shouts 'Mom' WITHIN 45 SECONDS 
3. The worries/thoughts/ideas seep back into the sacred space I've supposedly created in my brain. WITHIN 1 MINUTE!

Meditation is all the rage these days. If we could all meditate for half an hour every morning and clear our heads from the tangled web of thoughts in our brains, our stress levels would drop, we could lower our blood pressure and our days would be more productive, calmer and enriched. At least that is what articles on meditation promise us.

I know it takes practice and I would love to be able to accomplish it more often and for a reasonable period of time. Part of the success of meditation is staying present and  in the moment -listening to the sounds around you, feeling your body sitting in your chair, being aware of your fingers and toes, focusing on your breathing.........This I can normally do for about 3 minutes with the help of these meditations! ( Thank you Abby.) How about you? 

So how did I manage to find a method that enabled me to remain in the moment without being overwhelmed by a thought bombardment for a full half hour?

We are at the beach and the weather is perfect. Warm and breezy without humidity. I decided to take a walk and with my trusty iphone with me, I set the timer for 30 minutes. 

I thought  that as I was walking I would take photographs of different things that caught my eye. I probably took 20 pictures or more.

 This decision made me focus on my surroundings and without realizing it,  I did not think about anything else for 30 minutes -Not one thought about what to make for dinner or if we have enough milk in the fridge?  

Not one moment thinking I must get my 12 year old to read more/ practice for his Bar Mitzvah/  order his textbooks or get school supplies.

No panic about what on earth I am going to write about in my next blog post or whether my 18 year old has signed up for whatever it is he needs to do for freshman year at college.


 I observed, 
        explored and
              stood quietly. 
                     I absorbed the sunshine and calm.
                              I listened to the rhythm of the waves and                                 
                watched the sandpipers 
artfully run from the         
sea foam.

It was the most refreshing, successful walking meditation I have  ever managed -made possible because of an iphone camera. 

Taking pictures kept me in the moment and cleared my head. It was a tonic to the crazy brainstorm I normally inhabit.

Have you ever tried to meditate? Have you found an easy way to clear your head? If you try my method, please tell me how it goes and send me some pictures of your walk.

Have a wonderful week.

 Here are some of the pictures I took on my meditation on the move.....( All photos are my own. Please ask me before using. TYVM)

porch swing
house pool

wild flowers & beautiful butterfly
path to the beach

sea meets shore

A seagull stands its ground
Sea and silhouette of me
water is so clear

flowers on the walk back
Perfect day for the beach

view from one of the house windows

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  1. Two winters ago we were on holiday in Vietnam. I was taking masses of photos of every step of our trip. We were doing the whole journey north to south Hanoi to Saigon. 3/4 of the way down and three weeks into the holiday I was viewing my photos and touched the menu button on the camers. By mistake I touched "formatt"" and then in error I touched "yes" . In a split second I lost all my photos. It was so upsetting . So, each night after that when I was going to sleep ,I ran through each day of. The holiday in my mind. I kept the pictures and the memories in my head. I also fell asleep in peace. Now if I wake in the night, I often do, I run through them again , it stills the mind. I guess that is a kind of meditation too. I hope you are having a lovely summer break. This year is flying by.

    1. Jo -We loved Hanoi -with the mix of architecture, colorful markets etc. That must have been so distressing-to lose all those pictures. I just deleted a lovely comment instead of publishing it. So easy to press or click the wrong place. Can you still call them up in your memory? Your method sounds like a very focussed meditation. It sounds as though it stilled all your other thoughts. Meditation experts do you agree?

  2. Interresting idea..focus on one thing to keep the mind-noise at bay.
    Miss youx

    1. When Jacob was small and couldn't get to sleep at night, we would play a game where he had to name a boy's name for every letter in the alphabet . By M or N he was normally relaxed enough or bored enough to fall asleep! Keeping focused is the crux i think.

  3. I saw a TV show about getting an agoraphobic out of the house, and they used the same technique - getting the person to focus through the camera lens and then they did not panic that they were outside...eventually they could leave the house without the camera

    1. What an interesting technique. I guess it really quietened his/her fears because he/she was so intent on the job at hand. Did they actually take pictures or just keep looking through the lens?

  4. I love this idea. I always focus better on the little things when I have my camera. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Looking for things to take pictures of really focuses your mind. I know as I was searching for unusual subjects, all other thoughts were put on hold. I'd love to see some of your pics! Thank you for posting and reposting! :-) Gillyx

  6. I love how you found a way to be in the moment without focusing on how your trying to be in the moment. Honestly? I say I really want a mediation habit - I think it would be a practice that would help me immensely... and I stink at it. Maybe I just don't get it. When I try to sit and meditate, I'm worthless. Still, like you, I've discovered that sometimes there are in the moment experiences that call me forth to my present moment like no other. I had that just last week on a short walk in beautiful surroundings even if just for bursts of a few minutes at a time.

    LOVE that you posted your pictures here too!

    Thank you for sharing your experience - totally resonates with me!

    1. Learning to meditate is definitely and I think always a work in progress. i have managed 3-5 minute guided meditations as I mention in the post. Those are much more successful than trying on my own. I am sure even skilled meditators have better and worse days at achieving their meditation goals. The best advice I have heard ,is that instead of trying to block out all thoughts, it is worth trying to let them travel through your consciousness without fixating on them....easier said than done! Right?
      I guess the most important first step is to find what works best for you and then to practice A LOT!!! Love your honesty Alli! Thanks for commenting. Gilly

  7. I tried posting this earlier today. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I don't see my post, even after refreshing & after waiting til much later in the day. I'm going to try this again...sorry if it's showing up a second time....

    A very dear friend of mine forwarded me this blog today, and I was so touched by the energy I was feeling when I was reading the post AND by the photos that you took, that I had to join to receive your mailings. Thank you for sharing yourself w/ us.

    I've been wanting to get back into meditation, and I used to be into photography (not professionally), & so this was perfect for me....just that little push I needed, confirming from my friend, Carole, AND from the Universe to get a move on it. So again, I thank you.

    1. Dear Tracy,
      Thank you very much for persevering and leaving a comment. I have been getting so much spam that I am moderating all comments before they are published. That is why your comment may not have shown up until I had a chance to check the comments.

      Sometimes people also have a hard time leaving a comment if they try to write from an ipad but are successful from a laptop. No idea why! So many thanks for not giving up.

      I am glad this post resonated with you and that you have felt the impetus to return to meditation. I love the idea of it, but find the practice very difficult. This walking experience was a revelation for me, in finding something that worked with what seemed like little effort. I'd love to know how you enjoy the experience and hear about the pictures you take. I'm so glad to 'meet' you and thank Carole for the introduction.

      Looking forward to chatting some more with you.


    2. The 1st time I tried posting, I didn't realize I was doing it from "google account," which I don't have. The 2nd time I tried, I saw that I had a choice & could put my name in, & then I saw that my comment would have to be reviewed before being posted. Thanks for explaining it all :)

      So now all I have to do is get myself out the door to the beach w/ my camera :)

      Thanks Gilly. "See" you soon.