Updated: Jan 13, 2019
Meditation and mindfulness get a lot of press these days. For example, here’s yet another study, this one from Harvard showing that eight weeks of meditation builds brain cells and reduces stress. Sign me up please! Honestly though, all the hype about meditation was not helpful for me when I was in a hard place. As in: “I get even more flooded when I try to meditate.” Hearing about a powerful technique out there at a time when it felt unattainable added self-disappointment to my woes. At some point I realized that meditation is not about 30 minutes of mental gymnastics. It is about something very small and very simple: being truly present, with my whole attention, to one thing, even if only for two seconds. No judging, no fixing. Just noticing. The smaller, simpler, and more ordinary, the better. Try taking a few seconds right now and pay attention to your body as you sit and read this post. Where do you feel weight, lightness? Warmth, coolness? Which parts of your body need a break? Expansion/contraction exercise A powerful meditation is to center attention on That one thing could be how the water feels on your hands when you wash them. Take one bite of food and experience as many things as possible about it – texture, smell, sound, taste, after-taste. Drink water and pay attention to how it feels, from the moment it touches your month until it goes down your throat. Go for a walk and pay attention to the colors around you. If you can’t walk with your legs, do it with your eyes. Forget thirty minutes sitting in a lotus posture, unless that thought really energizes you! Start by turning on full attention for a few seconds here and there. It’s like a muscle that gets stronger surprisingly quickly once you start using it – and weakens almost as quickly if you stop. Staying fit physically is a lifetime journey – so is staying in the present. It is one of the most valuable tools for your ongoing sustainability. Practicing these moments of full presence opens a pathway to many valuable things. You will become aware of more shades and colors in your emotional world. That awareness will gradually slow down the quick, instinctive responses to stress (present and past), and you will discover you have greater ability to choose how to respond. Try out any mindful activity that may work for you. Here's one that works for me - mindful expansion/movement. your step towards trauma integration for now. Read more about the Harvard study here "Meditation builds brain cells"