Pause: How to press pause before life does it for you by Danielle Marchant ($19.99), published by Hachette Australia.
This book is probably the best A$19.99 you will spend this year; so many useful, simple exercises for relaxation and meditation, for re centering and pauses – big and small. If you do nothing else – concentrate on your breathing – deep breathing is so good for the whole body and you can practice this anywhere any time of the day.
One of the ways we can begin to create harmony with our outer world is to create harmony within ourselves. There are different approaches to this. One is creating a natural rhythm
(with your food, sleep, work and so on); another is learning to manage your mind. A long time ago, I was taught, “You have a mind but you are not your mind.” In the same way as you have an arm but you don’t let your arm rule the show, why would you allow your mind to take over?
If your stress levels feel unmanageable and you find it hard to switch off and relax, it’s likely that your mind is busy. For some people this is particularly easy to spot at night, when
after an intense day they lie in bed exhausted, but unable to sleep. The more stress builds within us, the less easy it is for us to flow in our lives.
One tool that helps deal with everyday stress and allows you to begin to manage your mind to bring it back into harmony is meditation. I meet a lot of people in my coaching practice who tell me that they have tried mediation, but found it too difficult and have given up. The trouble is, when they sit down to meditate they can hear their busy minds racing, and they think they are meditating incorrectly. In truth, sitting down to meditate will make you conscious of what is already present, and if for you that’s a racing mind and anxiety, then that is what you will experience. This doesn’t mean you are not doing it right; it simply means that this is what your inner world feels like at this moment in time (and perhaps beyond this moment). The art of meditation is to sit with the experience you are having, whatever it is, without trying to change it, judge it or fix it. Your “job” in meditation is to stay seated and simply pay attention to your breathing, while your mind chatters and your feelings come to the surface.
If that feels too difficult for you at this time, you might like to try this lovely Bee Meditation (see page 74), which I describe as a meditation for people who can’t meditate. I find it works well when you have a busy mind, because the sound you make is a distraction, and the mind loves a distraction! It works by blocking out the senses of sight and sound, and creating an internal vibration by humming. The hum makes a sound like a bee buzzing, hence the name.
Here is how the Bee Meditation works (read this through in full before you begin):
Prepare yourself by finding a place you can be alone for a few minutes. Sit in a comfortable position, with your back straight.
Scan your body and notice how you are feeling.
When you are ready, close your eyes, put your thumbs in your ears and gently cover your eyes with your forefingers (the idea is to block out the senses of sight and sound for a moment).
Inhale, and on the exhale make a humming sound.
Repeat the inhale and hum for ten breaths.
When you have completed your ten breaths, keep your eyes closed, rub your hands together to generate some heat and place your hands over your face.
Gently open your eyes and remove your hands.
Scan your body again and notice how you feel.” p.72