Wellness, Mediation, the mind-body link
Now that I’ve given you an introduction and now that we’re all trying not to step on landmines, I wanted to talk to you about an important aspect of wellness and that is the mind-body link which is achieved in meditation.
This is such a crucial habit to get into. I’ll tell you what works for me and then give you some suggestions and resources you can check out.
Most of you know that I practice meditation, and, while it’s easy to advise you to go forth and practice meditation, it’s not always that simple, or it may not be something which will work for you, but maybe we can find something which will work for you in order to bring you calm, clarity and healing.
My mind-body link practice started in my childhood. As a serious figure skater, I not only skated every day, went to stretch and strengthen and dance classes, but also visualised my routine and my jumps in meditation. That is, I was instructed to run thru them in my mind off the ice, landing them perfectly, gracefully, and I was told that if I did that, I had a much better chance of performing them flawlessly on the ice. As children, we just believe what our coaches/parents/teachers tell us and in that belief, a true mind-body link is developed and we become better for it. If you didn’t grow up figure skating and going to stretch classes, never mind, you can learn to meditate easily.
I basically have four mediation methods which work for me and I’ll describe them to you starting with the quickest and easiest.
1 The pink balloon…Don’t laugh…lol.
If I have an overwhelming problem, I visualise myself rounding up that problem in a pink balloon and letting it go out into the universe trusting that the universe will handle it for me. This is a great little meditation to do on the fly. You can do that wherever you are in about two seconds. You don’t need to be lying down, you don’t need quiet, you don’t need an altar…you just need to visualise a pink balloon with that problem in it and then you need to release it and watch it ascend into the sky. And maybe your balloon is blue, or green, or purple. You choose. (I’ve no idea why mine is always pink) Maybe your problem is so huge that you need seventeen balloons to scatter it. It’s up to you. So the next time anxiety grips you…say you have no idea how you will be able to do something…anything… put that into a pink balloon and let the universe take care of it.
2 The grounding meditation
I’ve sat for hours in doctor’s offices waiting on unpleasant results. I’ve been scared and immobilised, unable to breathe properly, trapped in the face mask made to immobilize me for radiation therapy. I’ve been laying in Shavasana at the end of my yoga practice with a mind full of stupid things, like that guy who unfairly honked at me in traffic, or that unsatisfactory convo I had with the builder next door. The script runs on repeat and I end up playing it over and over again, taking up the precious few minutes I have for this restorative pose. Some evening I have trouble calming down enough to rest. Some nights I wake up at some ungodly hour and am unable to get back to sleep easily. At this time, my mind tends to run scenarios of all the stupid decisions I’ve ever made and then, when I will myself to stop, my mind says, “not so fast, we haven’t discussed all the stupid decisions you’re likely to make in the future!” This is the time for a grounding meditation.
My grounding meditation looks like this:
I visualise myself standing, sitting or lying on the earth. Usually on grass. Slowly white silvery light showers down from the universe. It showers softly, like fairy dust, it touches me and enters my body. It circulates all thru my body and then begins to enter the earth. Then a deep golden light rises up from the earth and enters my body. It mingles with the silvery universe light circulating everywhere. I feel it in my fingers and toes, it’s in my lungs, my heart, my nervous system, then the deep golden light exits and rises up into the sky and into the universe. The silvery light showers down as the golden light rises and I am the conduit for this light of the world.
This is a great meditation for restoring calm.
3 Healing meditations
These are rather made to order.
My healing meditation #1:
I get a lot of headaches and used to get loads of migraines. As I’ve aged, the migraines have settled down, but as a child, when I couldn’t take pain meds and still skate or think, I was taught a healing meditation to ease the pain. Now I use it for joint pain, stress pains, lower back pain…wherever it hurts. It’s a bio feedback sort of thing and feels a little kooky but works really well for me, and since we’re all in the spirit of sharing, here it is. It might work for you too.
The steps, (do them in this order and don’t miss one)
1 Find the pain. Close your eyes and specifically pinpoint where the pain is. Be as exact as possible. Feel where the edges are, feel the centre.
2 Give it a shape. My headaches tend to be spiky balls with sharp thorns. Backaches tend to be hard solid rolls, like a small, metal washboard piece wedged right in there among the muscles.
3 Give it a colour. Really. You’ll be surprised. These shapes will have a colour. My headaches tend to be purple.
4 Decide how much water it would take to fill the pain space up. Imagine a measuring cup. Fill it with the right amount of water needed to fill the space.
5 Now fill that space. Mentally tip the cup of water till it begins pouring out, and fill that space right up.
After you do this, you may be surprised to find the pain much diminished; even gone altogether.
Healing meditation two:
This is really a good one for healing cuts, operation sites, infections, and even pain if the above doesn’t work well for you.
Visualise that golden light I talked about before, but this time visualise it knitting the cut skin back together. Visualise it passing over the operation site, or infection, and as it passes, it leaves nothing but clean, clear skin. Sometimes it’s helpful to think of the golden light acting like a zipper zipping up, leaving a tiny, thin line, and later the golden light taking that line away as it passes. Do this several times per day. It only takes a few minutes. Especially do this last thing at night just before we let our body restore in sleep.
I can tell you that my doctors were amazed at my fast healing after any operation. I really believe that this meditation aided my body in healing much more efficiently than any creams or medications could.
4 Mindfulness- awareness meditation, a Shambhala Buddhist practice
This one’s simple, but at the same time rather difficult guys. I learned it a few years ago in the local Buddhist meditation group. It’s designed to train your mind to remain calm no matter what. You practice it for blocks of time, like 20 or 30 minutes.
This is how to practice it:
Take your shoes off and sit comfortably. I usually sit on a big bolster pillow, but on a chair is perfectly fine. Pick a point just in front of you to focus on. So far so good, right?
And now the difficult bit, empty your mind.
Maybe listen to your breathing, concentrate on your breath, but don’t let your mind wander.
Inevitably, your mind will wander. Your mind will do this: Five minutes into meditation, your mind will suddenly say “must remember to buy cat litter” and start writing a grocery list, followed by, “Ooo, is that a fire truck or ambulance?….maybe it’s a police car” and then, ”that spot on the floor…it looks like Big Ben” and so on. Every time you catch yourself thinking of something, say “that’s interesting” or “mind chatter” to yourself, and let it go and focus on your breath again. Don’t get mad at yourself, don’t criticise, don’t think that you suck and you’re the worst Buddhist in the world. Just forgive yourself, say “mind chatter” and pull your mind back again.
After your block of time, get up, cup your hand at waist height in front of you as though you are carrying an apple, and walk around slowly, again with an empty mind, but this time concentrating on each foot fall. Do 10 or so minutes of mindfull walking, come back to your seat, and go for 20-30 more minutes.
There you go guys. A quick introduction to meditation as a mind-body link.
There is so much more out there that I don’t practice. Some people like to evoke their religion and instead of the universe, offer themselves up to God. Some people like to build a small sacred altar, get fresh flowers, burn a candle. Some people like to visualise themselves on a beach, mountain, cloud…it’s all good. Some people like chanting and some like singing.
Whatever you decide on, I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.
Do give it a try. And please share your thoughts.
One of my first meditation teachers has been Shakti Gawain. She has loads of books available and her web site is here. I’m not a fan of her guided meditation because I find her voice not calm enough for my liking. You might feel differently, but either way, she has loads of good info.
One of my favourite mantra singers is Deva Premal. Her clear voice is amazing. Find her here. My favourite mantra the Gayatri Mantra here:
Not sure why I chose Alfons Mucha’s paintings to illustrate this post except that I connect so much with him and with my childhood in Prague. It’s all about comfort. 😀