I mentioned in my last post that meditative practices are a part of my “basics” and help me to stay grounded. I do this in creative ways, rather than using rigid meditation techniques you often read about or see on television. I started meditating in these creative ways without realizing I was doing any type of meditation.
Before my illness, I often taught clients progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing techniques, so I knew the value of such practices. My introductory psychology students are required to research meditation as it relates to sensation and perception. They are surprised to learn is that there are so many different techniques to try.
The problem for me years ago was that my mind was too busy to practice the techniques effectively, so I gave up quickly. Once I was sitting still in the wheelchair, it came a bit more easily with the help of my dogs. I actually learned to regulate my breathing by synchronizing mine with my dogs when they were in a relaxed state. I have been getting back to basics with my breathing recently, so my dogs and my friend’s newborn baby have been helping me with it.
Another simple option for meditating is the mantra technique. For this technique, all your attention becomes focused on the mantra (phrase or word used over and over again) and this helps to reduce the amount of focus on the other thoughts racing around in the mind. I think I should be able to select whatever mantra brings me back to the present moment, so I try to have some fun with it. This morning I found a fun way to use the technique and I wanted to share with you.
For years now, I do a version of walking meditation when I walk my dogs each day. I have found myself active in my own mind and not present on the walks as much lately. Today was different.
First, I think you should know that several times a week, I wake up with a “random” song lyric in my head. I generally have no idea what lyrics come before or after the line stuck in my head, so I repeat the line until I listen to other music to change it or check out the song if I can identify it. Most days it is annoying.
This morning, I awoke with “I love you, yeah yeah yeah” playing over and over—only this line, mind you. As I walked the dogs, I found myself singing it aloud (only this line) and then laughing at myself about it because I have no idea any of the rest of the words to the song. It occurred to me about 20 minutes into our walk that I was essentially practicing a mantra meditation.
I wasn’t worrying about healthcare, lack of cooperation from my pain management doctors, pain, what I need to accomplish today, or anything else for that matter. I was present with my dogs, looking at plants, trees, houses and landscaping, laughing at where they chose to stop to sniff or pee, and singing “I love you, yeah yeah yeah” for about 35 minutes.
It was a silly and very pleasant walk. I am often far too serious in this life and a little levity goes a long way for me. As I shared in my Back to Basics post, my basic activities are disrupted lately because of my pain.
I am looking for any and all ways to meet my own basics, no matter how crazy I have to look laughing and singing as I walk around in my neighborhood!
Do you have your own versions of meditation or other activities that keep you present? Help me to grow my own list by sharing yours!
A note: I did Google the song line and it isn’t even right (ha!)–She Loves You by The Beatles is the song. Makes it an even better little goofy morning if you ask me. 😉