For an overview of the 28 Days, please go here https://wordpress.com/post/catherinestrang.com/1455 This post – Day 1 – takes about 3 minutes to read and the exercise about 5 minutes.
Have you made New Year’s resolutions that have fallen by the wayside? Perhaps you have an incessant inner commentary on everything you should be doing? Or perhaps there’s just a nagging feeling that something has to change? For this first week of posts I’m going to suggest that for now you just let all of this go and relax.
There is a very practical reason for this; when we are tense, stressed or self castigating we can end up not achieving very much, or if we push ourselves anyway the achievement can feel hollow.
If healthy change within the body is desired there has to be a certain degree of relaxation first; for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on, the rest, digest and repair function, only then can the body function in an optimal state. If we are in a state of stress, whether it be fear, worry, anxiety, overwhelm, a sense of loss etc. our body’s ability to carry out most essential functions is impaired. What this means is that any physical health changes you wish to embark on will only work fully when we first relax, whether this is to detoxify, lose weight, heal disease, recover from exercise more rapidly or induce more ease and suppleness when doing yoga or Tai Chi and so on.
Perhaps there is something you wish to begin or complete in your external life; here also the more relaxed you are the clearer the mind and the easier it is to make intuitive decisions from a place of flow.
Maybe the main goal is simply to be more peaceful and relaxed, perhaps to achieve spiritual goals. In this regard, like me you may sometimes find yourself with a handful of different options, courses, books or meditations – but what to choose?
Today we begin right here, right where we find ourself in this moment. The following needn’t take more than five minutes of your time but practiced regularly will in the long run save a lot of time. What we are doing is inner training to operate from the heart and this week we begin mostly by coming into awareness of the present moment. Of course you may already be very well versed in this but I find I need to be reminded often.
Short instructions can be found below but please read through the following first. Begin by sitting with eyes closed and take a couple of deep breaths, exhale with mouth open or with a huge sigh, the focus is on letting go of any immediate tension and concerns. If you notice tension or a sense of holding on continue breathing in this way for as long as you wish. As you focus on breath deliberately let go of all need for striving, for shoulds, as in “I should be doing something else right now”. Let go of all concerns about outward appearance related to what you think you should be doing, this is your life, your body, your mind. Just breathe deeply and let go.
Now bring your attention to the heart, place a hand on the heart if it helps maintain focus here, I like to imagine that my conscious awareness is travelling down from the centre of my head and into the heart itself, imagine that you are looking out at the world from this space. This seems to give an immediate spatial awareness of actually being here. Just trust that this is so; as mentioned before in another post, a few years ago I had the opportunity to play around with a HeartMath Institute monitor that indicates where our focus is and when we focus on the heart we go there – it’s that simple!
Now as you breathe have the thought that you are breathing from the centre of your heart. If the mind is chattering, acknowledge that in a neutral way then bring your focus of attention to a point behind and just above the eyebrows and back down into the heart. Do this with the intention that you are ignoring the mind chatter for the next few moments. You can say to yourself, “There is nothing but this moment and I am fully present”.
Ask, “Right now what do I want”? Continue to rest your attention in the heart, as if you are breathing through the heart and this is the centre of your being. Whatever arises see if you can let go of thoughts, dialogue and mental chatter that may arise. If nothing comes to you simply ask the question again.
Answers from the heart space are short, simple and loving, for your highest good. They will not be complex or wordy. If a reply comes up that causes unease just breathe through it, the unease could be because it’s an answer from your mind or ego or it could be your reaction to an answer from the heart. Either is fine, breathe through the unease and ask the question again. Usually however, the answers that come will bring relief. Even if an answer to a question feels scary there’s often a feeling of “rightness” to it. Learn to trust this quiet inner voice.
If you have never gone through this kind of exercise before or there is a lot going on in your life, you may find it takes more than the five minutes stated above – take as long as you need. With repetition however this will end up taking about 30 – 60 seconds! If you really want to explore the heart space in this way you could give yourself a retreat day or morning or afternoon, and intend to ask this every half hour as a moving meditation wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
Brief instructions to summarize the above:
- Couple of deep breaths, long, slow exhale, letting go of whatever is on the surface.
- Bring attention down into the heart, hand on heart if wished.
- State intention to be in the present moment.
- Ask, “What do I really want right now”?
- Ask again if needed and wait for short, simple and loving answer.
- Practice this as often as liked or needed.
Tomorrow’s post will be a guided, relaxing meditation.