The biggest misconception many people have about meditation is that it only works when they silence the mind. Well, the mind will not be silenced. It’s always occupied. Meandering through your brain checking your agenda today, remembering moments from yesterday, and outlining what life might be tomorrow. The mind connects the dots and creates an avalanche of thinking that can cause worry and fear to rule your life. Meditation or Relaxation is a way to give the mind a task and yourself a break.
Finding peace in a world that pulverizes our bodies, taxes our minds, and deflates our spirit isn’t easy. Particularly for parents of young and adult children with special needs. Recently I spoke at a seminar to a group of caregivers and recognized that they do indeed have more on their plates than most people. It’s my opinion that even a busy caregiver can develop a fitness plan that includes some relaxation. While nobody’s struggles will disappear, we can all take a vacation from the world with a little M&R! Meditation and Relaxation.
In the seminar I shared my theory of the Power of 3 — how we can find respite in the practice of breathing. By taking three slow deep breaths we can alter our response to our circumstances. It will give us a chance to catch up, relax, and re-focus. It’s a means for coping with life no matter what your circumstances may be. I have an addendum for the breathing/relaxation Power of 3 exercise.
Create a WatchWord
What is a WatchWord? It’s a word you “watch” so your mind will be occupied. It’s a word that is a sound and it’s designed to mirror your inhalations and exhalations. When you silently repeat the word you align every thought to being focused on that word — as you follow your breath. A WatchWord’s job is to keep your mind from tripping over itself in the domino pattern it loves.
I have two distinct words I like to teach my audiences. My personal favorite is Aha. As you inhale you mentally say Aaaaaaaaaaaa, and your tone rises to a pitch that connotes hope or question. On the exhalation you mentally say Haaaaaaaaaaaaa where the tone slides down the scale to a place of quiet resignation and relaxation. Here you may find rest. Form no judgments, think of breathing only and allow the body to relax. Notice how when you’re inhaling air fills the lungs, and expands the chest. Take note if your shoulders come up around your ears. Tell them to relax. Keep breathing. Three times. More if you have time.
Another WatchWord choice is A-Men. This word is most often associated with the end of a prayer. Many think it means “the end”. Growing up my minister, Robert L. McKim used to end prayer with, “So be it.” That’s because the word Amen in Hebrew comes from the word that means “to be faithful, to support or confirm”. The word actually means “so be it,” or “truly”.
I like Amen because it’s a more elegant version of “It is what it is.” (I’m not a fan of this expression. I feel it sounds flippant and perhaps a little fatalistic.) Saying So be It or Amen feels more like we’re recognizing a Higher Power, but it’s your meditation. Choose which resonates in your Soul. Give the Mind a break. I promise you will feel you have more control of your life.
Client Light Bulb Moment of the Week: “I looked in the freezer and realized there was nothing to make for dinner — so I decided to meditate.” ***
***Inside Joke — Only those who attended the Caregivers Seminar will know what we’re talking about.