Why I meditate

I meditate to feel better.

For many years, I dabbled in meditation, but didn’t fully understand it. I knew there was a science to meditation; that it reduced anxiety and stress and improved concentration. I tried to meditate to clear the clutter in my head before I sat down to write, but I did so inconsistently. Over time, I took a couple of workshops on meditation. I read books on mindfulness and meditation like “Quiet Mind,” “The Miracle of Mindfulness” and “Uncomfortable with Uncertainty.” I meditated in my yoga practice. I joined my friend for Deepak and Oprah’s free 21-day meditation courses. I used meditation apps like Meditation Timer and Headspace.  I found that there are many scientific and psychological benefits to meditating, but I was curious about how it would make me feel if I would meditate consistently. So, last July I decided to meditate every day using the Headspace app. 

I meditate to calm my mind, build focus, and inspire creativity.

Meditation is a technique to train the mind in awareness; to reach deep quiet, inner peace and joy. I sit on my zafu (meditation cushion) with the intention of sitting. When I sit, I try to let go of everything I have been thinking and doing and just be still and quiet. Sometimes my mind is very busy (also referred to as monkey mind) and I have a hard time trying to quiet it down. Thoughts come in a steady stream and I struggle to let them go. 

There are many times that I meditate lying down, or walking, or at my desk, or sitting in my car at a parking lot. While it’s nice to have a set time and place for meditation, I don’t think it matters where, when, or how long I meditate. As a beginner, the point is that I have made meditation a habit. Meditation gives me the ability to reel in my monkey mind and restore it so I can be awake and present in the moment. Immediately after I meditate, I am inspired to write and reflect about something I’ve heard, read or observed. 

I meditate to explore the inner workings of my mind.

By meditating and practicing mindfulness (awareness), I can go deeper into the work of self examination, uncover hidden truths and see things about myself with greater clarity. I write my thoughts in little notebooks and explore the inner workings of my mind. Sometimes this scares me, but how my mind works is also a wonder to me. Its energy and connectedness to the body is something I want to continue to explore. Both meditation and mindfulness help me along my journey. 

A calm mind takes time to develop. It takes practice, patience, and determination. This is something I have to remind myself of frequently. When life gets challenging, I’ve learned (the hard way) that my mind tries to drag me away from the things I know are helpful and restorative. My determination is the only thing that will bring it back to a state of calm. If I don’t pay attention and practice mindfulness my mind will wander a path of chaos. 

During the past year of consistent meditation practice, I have found greater peace of mind. There is less tension in my body and I can achieve more clarity and focus on my work. I also discovered that I don’t need an app to meditate. I can set a timer for a few minutes, or give myself permission to meditate until the dog barks.

In the end, I meditate because it simply makes me feel good.

What do you think?

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Don’t waste another moment of your life

rainbow moment‘Don’t waste another moment’ is a pledge to myself: a goal, a mantra.

I need to make space for the future by letting go of the past. I know that I cannot forget the past.  I just don’t need to get stuck in history. Thinking of what could have been breeds regret and anger. Moving forward matters.

Hanging on to old stuff, like the toys my teenager doesn’t play with anymore, clutters my mind and the basement. So little by little I’m getting rid of the junk and seeing new possibilities.

Likewise, I may dream of what the future holds for me and my family and forget about now. It is the movement in my mind that overwhelms and exhausts me, creating a feeling of busyness. Instead of rushing around, considering my next move, or ruminating about the next appointment, practice, or event on the calendar, I can channel my inner Zen and “settle the self on the self.” 

I have found that when I observe what I do at the time I am doing it, I can embrace the full beauty of the present and let go of all else, if only for a moment. I have the power to settle into myself and change the busyness of my day into daily cherished moments.

Our lives are full of details. When we stop and take notice, we fill ourselves with little gems that sparkle in the light of the moment:

+ At dusk, a boy points to the turquoise hue of the fading sun. 

+ Outside my window, the green plumage of the majestic ash flutters in the rain. 

+ My mouth waters for another succulent bite of sweet orange. 

Details matter in our lives and inspire the stories we tell. Let’s stay awake and take time to notice the details wherever we are. 

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends. Find me on: FacebookInstagram (@kristinebruneau), or Pinterest.   

The art of not taking it personally

Don’t take it personally?” We have all been in a situation when someone says an unkind word or acts unpleasant towards you. It’s an opinion or judgement so how can we not take it personally? This is something I’ve struggled with all my life, especially when I’ve heard: “Four eyes.” “Goodie-two-shoes.” “Nerd. “Ugly.” “You can’t write.” “You’re wasting my time.” “Shut up.” “I hate you.” 

These words and phrases linger in my head. Although I don’t believe they define me, it still stings.

As children, we believe the world revolves around us. Only later do we develop the knack to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. I have come to realize that when people say something harsh, or behave poorly, it is more a reflection on them and not me. It is also about what’s going on in their life at the time. Perhaps they are going through a divorce, or there is a financial strain, or someone they love is ill.  I remind myself that one  person’s subjective view, doesn’t necessarily make the word or deed right or fair. However, it is difficult to think this way because my first reaction is to lash out at the person who is making me feel less than what I know is true. I must continue to believe in myself and gather up my super powers to send positive energy to the person who is trying to create negativity. 

Not taking it personally is much more difficult when your child is the object of someone’s hurtful words or acts. 

As a parent, how do you respond? How do you help your child respond and not take it personally.

My immediate reaction is to protect, intervene, and fix the situation. I don’t want to see my child uncomfortable, angry, or sad. As parents, we walk a fine line of being over involved or not involved enough to know what’s really going on in our child’s life.

I like to think I approach parenting in a mindful way, encouraging my son to speak up for himself and ask questions of the adults in his life who are giving him their feedback or opinions. Asserting oneself is very difficult for a teenager to do. It takes some creative coaching (not preaching) on my part, confidence and resilience on my son’s part. 

Understanding how not to take things personally is something that must be experienced. There will be many many setbacks or difficult situations in my son’s life. As a parent, I can’t protect him from everything nor should I try because overcoming challenges is part of growing up.

If I were to write a letter to my younger self at age 16, I would write: “Don’t take things that other people say to you personally because their opinions are reflections of themselves. You are good, strong, smart, courageous, beautiful, loving, caring, and kind. Don’t stoop so low as to cut someone else down. Sometimes the best way to respond is to lift up your head, smile and say to him: “That is your opinion. It is not mine.” 

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends. Find me on: FacebookInstagram (@kristinebruneau), or Pinterest