Monday, October 28, 2019

How to Meditate Without Sitting Still

woman walking through a garden with spade and watering can wearing boots

Have you tried meditation and found it challenging or impossible?  I get it.

Here's the problem 

Maybe, like me, you have a lot of trouble sitting still. I've tried meditation in the past and find it hugely beneficial but the sitting still is such a struggle! 

I know that's why it's called a practice, because it's so hard but dang, y'all!

Sometimes sitting still can make my back hurt if I'm sitting up too straight. I don't know about you but if my back is going to hurt I might as well be getting something done, like pulling weeds or scrubbing our 50-year-old bathtubs. I've tried lying down but just end up snoring.

Here's something to try

What you might try instead is a moving meditation. While I'm working in the garden or tending the bees I work on being fully present. Checking the hives is one of the few things in my life that not only requires full attention but is also captivating enough to keep my mind from being distracted.

Read about how beekeeping is helping vets overcome PTSD.

Perhaps you want to sing a hymn or focus on a favorite Bible verse while cleaning your home or taking a walk. Walking is the most common way people move during meditation. 

Practice just taking in what you are seeing. Observe. Listen. Focus on your breath.

Here's a challenge: 

Try not judging. One of the things our mind loves to do is to judge. Everything. Not just people but literally every single thing in relation to every other single thing, and it's draining. This is one reason why our minds can't rest.

Who convinced us life was just one long all-encompassing 4-H Competition, beauty contest, and  episode of Shark Tank all rolled into one? 

This flower isn't as pretty as the one last year, or the one in the catalog, or the one in your imagination. This tool isn't as handy as the new one you saw at Lowe's This day is hotter, colder, wetter, more miserable, more beautiful than any other day in the history of the world. What color is her hair even supposed to be? That's a dumb idea for a business.

You see my point. This is exhausting. 

A new way of thinking: 

Try this instead. "Yes, thank you."

A flower bed plagued by spider mites? Yes, thank you. 

A walkway that needs weeding again? Yes, thank you.

No judgment. No anger about the chore. Accept. Do. Move on. 

Imagine everything inside your mind and spirit becoming more expansive. Breathe into that area where you feel your heart and soul are. You're not allowing your thoughts to be small and cold. You are breathing acceptance and love into every action. We expend a lot of mental and emotional energy when we don't have to.

You only need to pull the weed.

You don't need to mumble about how insidious it is and curse it then spend an hour ruminating on how your whole life has just been one long weed pulling fiasco and you've made all the wrong life choices. "Do all things without grumbling and complaining." in case you need a Biblical reminder.

Allow your mind to rest. Pull the weed. And the next. And so on.

Didn't they use to do this?

I like to imagine monks and nuns in the middle ages moving through their gardens and beehives behind the walls of the convent or monastery.

Don't you just know a solid introvert came up with that idea?

Father John: I was thinking we could just build a wall and then stay home and study bees and tend the garden. 

Father William: My son, that sounds like an excellent idea. We shall also copy sacred texts, and create beautiful illustrations that everyone will think are the bomb. 

Father Godwin: I'd be down with that. Let's also wear loose-fitting robes with ropes around our waists we can let out when we eat too much. 

Father John: Gluttony is a sin, my son. 

Father Godwin: My bad. 

And if you are thinking every Bible verse is about going and doing then allow me to share this little piece of advice tucked away in Thessalonians:  

"and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you." 1Thessalonians 4:11: 

Share this with a friend who needs to mind her own business.

 NO! Just kidding. Do NOT do that! 

There are whole books that could be written about how this verse compares --judging again!--to all the other verses telling us to get busy (!) but at least we know that there is a time for working quietly. This is the perfect attitude if you are letting your crazy brain settle down and the garden is a really good place to do it.

Things to try: 

Not a gardener? You also might consider cleaning the bathtub, organizing the pantry, or vacuuming. Obviously, these things all have the added benefit of getting stuff done. Just mind your thinking while you're doing them.

What about you? Do you struggle with a constant barrage of thoughts? Is there some activity that you could use as a moving meditation? 

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