It always impresses me that when you put your intention out to the Universe it answers quickly and clearly, that is if you’re prepared to listen.
Last month in circle we were set to work on the sacral chakra - the centre for choice, relationships, and creativity. As I approached the Quakers Centre, where we hold the meditations, I passed two young women looking across the road somewhat indecicively.
A few minutes later, as I was unpacking in the hall, the same two bright faces appeared in the doorway. They were curious as to what the Friends Society (name on the building) was all about. We explained we were a meditation circle that the Quakers were kind and open minded enough to have been hosting for more than a decade, and told them they were welcome to join. Politely they declined and left.
About five minutes before we were due to start, one of them returned to join us. As she introduced herself she shared that she’d been working with this same chakra energy for a few weeks, so wandering into a meditation with the same focus had been too serendipitous to pass up. Her meditation proved fruitful as she connected with a personal totem to help her understand this energy at a deeper level than most others could intuit for her.
However, not all lessons are this convenient or gentle for that matter. Some other circle regulars, who have worked this energy before, came along with relationship challenges that had been steadily building during the previous month. Knowing the circle was on the way allowed these circumstances to surface, providing the opportunity to connect with and gain the insight of a specific totem.
Also interesting for this and other scheduled chakra circles was who was able to make it. Often, if you aren’t ready to work through a certain lesson or need to continue of a previous one, the universe will conspire to shield or exempt you from that particular focus. Conflicting appointments, cars, traffic, or illness can all suddenly materialise to prevent you being there. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s just another way of the universe giving you information about this particular area in your life.
If you’re unsure about how when or where to get your next dose of intuitive guidance, take the easy option. Set your intention, wait, listen, and trust you are connected. The universe will present all the signs, symbols and opportunities to guide you at the perfect time.
We’ve all had that feeling of heading back to work after a break. We want to go back feeling relaxed and refreshed, not tired and resentful. It’s challenging, especially if you’ve had a good time.
Today is that day for me and I know that in addition to catching up at work I have a couple of other deadlines to meet – this blog being one of them.
So what’s my approach? Mindfulness.
There’s abundant research on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation but most people still avoid the practice due to a misconception that it’s difficult, time consuming, and they don’t know how. So let’s take another look at what mindfulness is and how to bring it into an already busy schedule.
Mindfulness is simply that. Being mindful about what you’re doing and thinking about, right now. One of the easiest ways to get started is by doing ‘spot’ meditations. Rather than trying to find a teacher, a class, or somewhere to practice, look for a few opportunities throughout the day to take five deep breaths. Yep, that’s it. Just five.
Opportunities exist everywhere: before you clean your teeth, eat a sandwich or start the car; when waiting for a bus, train, lift or in a queue; or before you get ready to start your next task; simply stop, focus completely on your breath, and take five.
Another super technique for becoming mindful is practicing gratitude. You don’t need to buy a journal, commit to writing every morning or night, or call and thank anyone for anything. When you’re getting anxious, annoyed or agitated about something, simply stop and spend a moment thinking of three things you can be grateful for. If it’s your first day back to work after a break then having a job to help pay for holidays and bills, being well enough to go to work, and having transport options to get there could be your first three. Try thinking of three new things, a couple of times a day, and you will realise how well off you are compared to many others in the world.
Combining gratitude and spot meditations can bring calm in an instant. Admiring a tree, feeling the wind or rain on your face, or basking in the warmth of the sun, and taking five deep breaths is enough to bring about physiological changes that will help reset your stress response allowing you tackle your next task refreshed.
A third trusty technique is is action. Not mindlessly rushing into ‘doing’, but taking action mindfully to get things done. If there’s one big thing you know needs doing first, then start that one immediately. Otherwise, make a list and work out what’s reasonable to achieve in the day, or even just before your first meeting. If the list is the only thing you have time for, you’ll still be better prepared for the rest of the day. And when you arrive on time and your colleagues are late, you can be grateful for getting yourself organised, then use those few spare minutes to take five deep focussed breathes. You can then move through your day calm and refreshed – which was probably what you hoped to achieve on your holiday.
So that’s my three easy steps to mindfulness. I’ve now tackled my biggest task and my bus ride has about 10 minutes to go - perfect timing to pause for a few breaths before I start on my list.
If you’re interested in knowing more, a great meditation resource is Erich Harrison’s ‘The 5 Minute Meditator’.