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Meditating Allows Me to Slow Down Enough

Christine Babson, Guest Author

Good morning. I’m happy to be able to give Shirley a break by taking over the meditation today but, as you can imagine, it is a bit daunting to be as eloquent and thought provoking as she is each and every day. But here goes:

I have meditated off and on since high school - techniques varied and that used to be somewhat disconcerting. But, as we’ve said so often in this group – there’s not being just one right way to meditate – and that’s good because I use most all of the techniques I’ve practiced over the years. To paraphrase what they advise in 12 -step programs: “I take what I like and leave the rest”

Whichever technique I use I find meditating allows me to slow down enough to really think about what I’m doing and ground me for what I’m going to do during the day.

I start each 15 minutes by concentrating on and counting my breathes. Most days I then scan through my body to find any areas of stress, pain or tension and visualize a light glowing in that area and feel it grow until the stress or tension is relieved. When my body and mind are calmed -which usually takes most of the meditation – I say a series of loving kindness statements directed to myself and then to others.

They are:

“May I be happy and healthy. May I be safe and protected. May I be strong and have courage and may I live my life with ease. “

Invariably I’ll also say the Serenity Prayer:

“Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

But…. though I want to “live my life with ease” and though I crave “serenity” I find it so easy in these crazy times to feel discouraged, hopeless, and helpless. I despair about the many, many situations in our world that are beyond my ability to change.

So I started thinking about those things that I can change or, saying it another way, the things I can control and I came across a list of things compiled by Caleb LP Gunner of things we can control which I’d like to share:

What you can control…

Your Beliefs Your attitude Your thoughts Your perspective How honest you are Who your friends are What books you read How often you exercise The type of food you eat How many risks you take How you interpret the situation How kind you are to others How kind you are to yourself How often you say “I love you.” How often you say “thank you.” How you express your feelings Whether or not you ask for help How often you practice gratitude How many times you smile today The amount of effort you put forth How you spend / invest your money How much time you spend worrying How often you think about your past Whether or not you judge other people Whether or not you try again after a setback How much you appreciate the things you have.

Participants' Reflections:

  • Thank you for sharing the serenity prayer and the things I can do and for the things I have no control over. In this time in the pandemic and political unrest, how important it is to respond and not just react. There is a pause, a meditation breath I can take before I respond. I’m trying to go with love. It’s not easy but that’s what the serenity prayer means to me. If I stop and evaluate what I have control over, usually it boils down to I only have control over myself

  • Thank you so much . I love the list of all the things we can do. Last night I led a group on the Serenity Prayer and its not something I normally do or think about that often. But in these times, I keep saying it to people and reciting it in my head. What I have noticed, is that we have so much personal power to control ourselves. We change the world by looking at ourselves first. We have so much personal power when we stop looking out there and go inside.

  • I agree, it’s a powerful message. It’s a great way to start any day, to remind myself of what I have control over, my thoughts and how I go about my day. I just got an exciting career offer and have to decide whether to stay where I am or move forward. The reality is with my current job, I think I have had enough. Daily , I’m stressed and burned out and I think I’m ready to move on. I am glad for this meditation because I have meetings. So thanks for the reminder of things I do have control over. Hopefully, I don’t allow myself to get stressed out over the things I have no control over.

  • I appreciate the way you read the list, by pausing after each thing in the list. I thought of the pause button, two parallel lines which looks like a road. When we look at that, if it’s a road symbol then we have the choice of the road we want to take. Maybe we can think about that when we press the pause button in our brains.

  • Thanks, you did a lovely job. I’m going to go back and read what you said about focusing on different parts of my body that may be tense and how I try to relax them. I think I have always been shallow breathing and I am still doing it, and I am trying to get some deeper breaths and I am always tight where my heart is. Thanks for everyone here.

  • Thank you also for stepping forward. I just got the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and in that book there is also a list that our thoughts can control, that remind us of our power. I’m not feeling as positive as usual this morning, so I needed that reminder. It’s cold here this morning and I had to close my windows and it became symbolic like, oh no, I’m closing in. I have a sore throat, so then I thought, Ok, get out of the negative thought. But I struggle with how to get out of it when I am in. It is hard. My wheels are turning and it’s hard to take that sacred pause to come back and breathe and be in what’s real and not be caught in that hamster wheel.

  • I totally agree with you. Sometimes I don’t want to pause. I want to push forward and it’s so damaging. Anger is damaging. I am angry about a few things. I’m trying not to get sucked into that.

  • I really like the phrase “breath and come back”. We were talking about sacred pause. I think that is a lovely little nugget to remind myself with “breathe and come back” to wherever I was or a new place. But take that breath to release whatever has gotten me clenched up.

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