Meditation is a tool, a practice for learning how to be in the big squeeze of life and to ride it out, as if on a wave. Just like being on a wave there are moments of uncertainty, and with practice you find if you stay, the wave will pass and the next will come. Meditation is a way of living in the uncertainty and impermanence of what the next moment holds and experiencing all the conditioned responses we have to wanting to get out of there, to predict the moments, control the moments, avoid the moments. When we practice being mindful of the moment by moment unfolding of experience by focusing on the breath and senses without judgment or meaning making, we learn to stay. We experience that everything has a beginning, middle and end, and then spins into the next experience.

 

Life is filled with opportunities to ride those waves, especially when we experience the big squeeze! When are our moments of the big squeeze? When we think we know something and it turns out to be different than what we perceived. When we are trying to be caring, kind and patient and someone comes along who triggers all our anger, impatience or judgment.   When we practice meditation we can have all the same experiences just sitting there, and instead of abandoning the practice to do something that feels better, we can breathe and wait it out and see what happens next. It takes a lot of practice and repetition to develop a habit, that is why we call meditation “practice” because we are meant to repeat it over and over again, as life unfolds in so many unpredictable ways, each day of practice there is something new to discover about our old habits, and the ways we have practiced coping with the things that squeeze us and make us feel so much tension and stress. We can begin to replace the old habits of reaction with the new habits of patience, waiting, breathing, and riding the wave.

 

PRACTICE:

 

Find a comfortable sitting position, (even on a surf board sitting out waiting for waves)! Lengthen your spine and extend the crown of your head to the sky, while the tailbone drops and the belly softens. Soften your jaw and let your teeth be parted, this really helps when we are feeling squeezed as we tend to clamp our jaw together. Let the eyes gaze softly ahead or close your eyes and feel the temperature and sensations of the body and the air around you.

Take 3 deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, exhaling very slowly. Then allow the breath to flow naturally in and out of the nose and “label” the breaths, “inhale” and “exhale” as you go for a minute or too, to refine your focus to the task at hand.

Begin to scan the body, from the feet to the top of the head, moving as slowly or quickly as you like, just connecting the breath and the body with awareness. As you focus on different body parts you will experience sensations, vibrations, temperature and weight. This is a great place to anchor your thoughts, as each time they float away, which they will, you have something solid to bring them back to. Each time a distraction, a thought, comes in you will experience the squeeze, the desire to follow it or to run away from it, the absorption in it. When you catch yourself being squeezed just ride it out….sit, breath, label, connect with your body…float, in and out, practice.

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