Have you ever tried to remember someone's name or a word or perhaps where you left something only to not be able to no matter how hard you tried? Then, once you gave up and moved on to some mundane task like doing the dishes or taking a shower, it suddenly came to you? Or have you ever noticed that your best ideas or most creative solutions always seem to spring forth when you are focused on a single task or least expect them? That space, that letting go of thinking is where the brilliance of our minds actually lies. My meditation teacher often speaks about how our greatest ideas or the "a-ha!!" moments don't actually happen when we try to think them into existence but rather they are conceived in the gap in between our thoughts. This is why meditation is so effective. It slows the brain waves down and allows us to experience more and more of these natural gaps in our thinking so with regular practice, the light bulb moments, our brilliant mind, shines through with greater ease and more frequency.
Meditation is not a religion. Nor is it a tradition involving levitation while sitting cross-legged on the floor pretending to be an all-knowing master of the universe. Meditation, sometimes disguised as boredom, slows our breath, lowers our heart rate, relaxes our mind and provides space for self-exploration while restoring our natural energy. It can allow us to see the moment for what it is with understanding and compassion. People who live in a constant state of awareness rarely do more than one thing at a time and they take their sweet time doing it. This may be looked upon as lazy or unproductive in our stressed out, over stimulated society but it is one of the smartest things you can do to become a healthier, happier, more inspired individual. When you eat, savour each bite. When you drive, enjoy the journey without reaching for your phone or thinking about your destination. When you are listening to someone speak, really hear the message instead of planning your response or judging their story. A relaxed, minimalistic approach to life will not necessarily change what is happening around us but it can shift our relationship to what is happening around us. Meditation teaches us how to observe the external world without becoming attached to it so we are much less reactive to the situations and behaviour of others. A simple procedure in theory but not easy I know and it's personally something I'm constantly working on improving.
So, below is an easy meditation that can be done for just a few minutes anytime you need to access that brilliant mind of yours.
Sit in a cross-legged seated position on the floor with a pillow or blanket underneath you. Ideally you want your hips to be raised higher than your feet, especially if you are a beginner, to minimize the initial discomfort of this position. The muscles in the body have become tight and inflexible over time as a result of an inflexible mind and accumulated stress in our lives, so practicing correct posture may feel foreign and uncomfortable when first learning how to sit properly. If this isn't comfortable then it's fine to sit upright in a chair. Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face and neck. Try not to slouch or lean over to one side. If this position feels extremely awkward, place additional pillows underneath your buttocks and under your knees if straining. Remember, the purpose of this technique is not to become comfortable, but instead learn how to stay with any thoughts or feelings that arise during stillness, including bodily sensations and emotional content.
Become mindful of your breathing. On the inhalation, let the breath fill you up completely. Be patient, allowing the oxygen to slowly enter your body and nourish your cells. Breathe into your belly, back and side ribs. Breathing only into the chest will create anxiety rather than relaxation. Notice the expansion of the stomach and lungs as you inhale. Observe your breath without trying to control it. This is a great exercise for learning how to receive with an open heart and relaxed, open mind. On the exhalation, pay attention to how the breath leaves your body, slowly letting go of every last ounce of oxygen you received from the inhalation. Stay with your breath. Thoughts will arise and you will be tempted to entertain them or chase them as you have programmed yourself to do throughout the years. Do not cling to them, control them or push them away. Simply observe the thought and then let it go. When you find yourself mentally straying, gently bring yourself back to the breath, enjoying and savouring each one.
Et voila! A simple way doing a little bit of nothing can help unlock a lot of brilliant something...