instead of meditating

by ruthjohnston

sometimes instead of meditating, closing down my thoughts and going to that inner place of calm, i like to do what i’ve come to think of as focused-conscious meditation.  it is actually an oxymoron, i would guess, but here is how it goes.

it still involves reaching an inner state, however instead of closing off my thoughts, i keep them, but they are focused.  in other words i do not allow my mind to just wander randomly.  i focus on good and those things in life that bring me to a state of awe and childlike wonder.  i like to listen to something soothing while doing this, which for me is usually a buddhist chant.  most recently it has been an English (version) of chanting the heart sutra, but anything that allows you to relax, and your breathing to slow would work great.

i sometimes use a mandala to look at (which you can now find online and print out), or a small porcelain Buddha.  you could use any pleasing picture either from your own gallery or one from the available images on the web.  i would imagine any scene from nature would work well.

the focus of my thoughts is usually on the best qualities of the human race such as kindness, patience, unconditional love, generosity and the like, and examples of those things that bring joy when contemplating.  usually these are pulled from a fresh memory, but sometimes they may come from years past, stories i’ve heard in conversation or even in a blog.  as with meditating, if i find my mind wandering, i simply go back to where i want to be.  i often choose a theme of human goodness, such as the ones listed above.  for instance i’ll choose to focus on generosity and allow myself to just think on past examples i have witnessed, as well as ways i would like to be more generous.  i try not to turn this into a session of wishful thinking, or regret, but again through focus, remain in a meditative mood and just allow my thoughts to flow on their own with no pretenses or expectation.

i like doing this specifically as an additional alternate form of meditation  not to take away from my time for true meditation as i would not want to replace that, but find that when adding this to my day, it bolsters my ability to keep negative thoughts and attitudes from creeping in.

additionally, i try not to do my focused meditating while performing other tasks as i am striving to completely live in the moment.  so when i am doing dishes, i am doing dishes and aware, and quite happy to be doing dishes.  i am washing this cup, i am rinsing this cup and placing it in the drainer.  i am looking out my window as i do this i am aware of the squirrel running across the yard; i can see the spider creeping up the window ledge.  i am not thinking about the other things i will be doing later in the day, the chores that still need done.  i am not thinking about the conversation i had with my husband earlier, or what i need to remember to tell him later.  i am not thinking about anything but the task at hand.  it’s still a work in progress, but when i am able to do this, i find i am enjoying my life moment by moment, remaining calm more and keeping negative thoughts at bay.

that way, when i do meditate, i am finding myself better able to turn off the chatter.  i am in the moment, and in this moment, i am not needing to think.

i am more able to just be….