Connecting with stillness
Welcome to the last module of Learn to Meditate!
By now, it is possible that you have managed to create some daily space to practice meditation. If you have, that’s fantastic, and as you delve deeper into meditation, your journey will continue to provide you with insight and relief from daily stress.
If you’ve found it difficult practice daily, know that this is fine. Congratulate yourself on beginning to explore your independent meditation journey.
We’ll look at how we connect with our sense of stillness on a more regular basis, and how to incorporate meditation into your daily life.
The meditations will explore the technique of using visualisation to help bring a sense of peace and deep rest within your body. We will also experiment with extended silence to allow you to practice some of your preferred techniques for meditating and being mindful.
Before we begin, lets take a few moments to connect with our breath and settle into this weeks’ learning:
What is stillness?
Stillness is a state that resides within all of us. It is constant and witness to our entire lives. You may like to remember a moment when you were younger, where you felt a sense of awareness, the same awareness that remains unchanged and is with you now. When we look in the mirror and notice the physical changes in our bodies, but feel the same as we did inside many years ago, this feeling or knowing is stillness; and awareness that remains unchanged throughout our life.
"It is from stillness that we can choose directions to take or make choices in our life...through hearing and then trusting our inner wisdom."
When you connect with this sense of stillness there is something that feels ‘still’, but it is not absent of physical movement. It can be felt while being still or moving; it is unaffected and remains unchanged like the bottom of the ocean unaffected by the waves. It is the place where our wise self, our inner knowing resides and when we become still for long enough, we begin to hear our desires, longings, our hearts and we are completely present within our body.
Once you make a resting relationship with your own inner stillness, your centre, you will no longer need to search for peace or happiness. You will know that through sensing this essential essence of you, peace, even love can be felt in each moment, through this wonderful and natural state of being.
How to integrate meditation into your daily life
There will be many challenges to your daily practice: families, work pressure, fatigue, heaving to-do lists, even travel. Ironically, it is in times of stress that we tend to drop a practice of meditation, however, if you can lean towards your practice during these times, you will find more comfort and support than you thought possible.
Its incredibly valuable to have a space that is especially for you, however, if you need to lock yourself in the bathroom and do it while taking a bath, then that’s fine, whatever works for you! Tell people that you live what you are doing, and why. Having the support of loved ones or housemates, and asking them to respect your 5-10 minutes of practice each day will be immensely positive. They’ll hopefully recognise the impact meditation is having on your life, and may benefit or start to practice themselves. If you can schedule a time in your day, then you’ll find you can’t wait for that time to come around so you can do your practice.
Even with all the encouragement in the world, it can still be hard to build a regular practice. Remember to be kind to yourself. Feeling guilty for not meditating won’t be helpful! If you are feeling resistance, this is normal, but you might like to remember how good you know you will feel once you have sat for just a couple of minutes. If you catch yourself worrying about something over and over, take an opportunity to practice your meditation. The more you meditate the more you increase the levels of dopamine in your brain. This in itself will help you become more motivated and will continue to help you in your journey.
ideas to help with practice
10 Minutes Early
If you’re travelling by car, aim to arrive early, and spend time practicing. I know parents that enjoy 10 minutes peace before the school pickup more than any other time of the day.
Use an App
Insight Timer is free and home to over 9000 free meditations, music, talks and courses. Calm and Headspace are also very good. Perfect for headphones anywhere.
Find Another Teacher
I recommend exploring the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach and Sharon Salzberg. They have excellent advice to help learn about mindfulness and meditation.
These teachers have excellent websites with lots of free resources, or books.
Join a Meditation Group
Visiting a group will take up more time than practicing on your own, but I think the social and educational benefits are excellent. Its a bit like a book club and can be helpful to instill a positive change in your life.
Your practice needs to be organic and one that supports you, there will be times when you’re too busy having fun or conquering the world. Honour yourself by showing up the next day, instead, and commit to a practice of looking after you.
Breath and Walk
Learn to meditate while walking. Count your breath in to match your steps and make the in-breathe and the out-breath the same number (be flexible in this approach, some days will be different to others).
Peace at Work
Find somewhere quiet, even the toilet if there is nowhere else. Consider approaching your HR department, or line manager and ask about setting up a designated quiet space in the office. You can of course simply sit at your desk, and breathe…
Just keep practicing and celebrate even minor achievements.
Overall, the more you can connect with the sensation of breathing, the more regularly you will notice it and be able to calm your mind. You will find that you can ‘step away’ momentarily when a situation becomes difficult or challenging, and you’ll give yourself the space to stop and decide how you wish to respond.
Week 4 meditations
Take yourself to your meditation space and prepare for the final meditations.
In the first meditation we’ll explore a visualisation. You can lie down or sit up for this.
In the second meditation, I’ll guide you – but with extended periods of silence so you can practice whatever technique has most resonated with you so far. Enjoy your practice.
You could call this Homework, but really I’m hoping that meditation will become a permanent and valuable part of your day to day life.
Further to the suggestions above, I think these three steps will help you start a regular and effective practice.
1. Set your timer for a 10 minute daily practice.
2. Continue your journal if you find it beneficial.
3. Make a commitment to yourself to keep practicing. Join a group or download an app to record your progress.
Congratulations on completing my introduction to meditation course! I hope that you feel the benefits of your practice as it influences and enhances the quality of life within yourself, with your loved ones and those around you.
It has been my honour to guide you through this wonderful practice. I wish you much joy and peace in your journey to connect with your breath and inner stillness.