More of a listener than a reader? Check out this audio version of the mindfulness challenge in today’s post:
This week was all about transitions – shifts in the season bring unpredictable weather, as well as changes in life. Students become summer interns, or even graduates(!), leases end and new ones are signed, bags are packed, and then unpacked in new terrain. TS Eliot said that “to make an end is to make a beginning,” and life this time of year definitely backs him up. Transition closes some doors, and opens others…but where to we go while that’s happening? Into uncertainty, friends. Into what cultural studies scholars would call “liminal space.” Into an undefined zone of not knowing, not belonging, and most importantly, of transformation.
Sound weird and scary? Well, it can be. Change is sometimes exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. But with skills like those offered in this weekend’s “no-fail” mindfulness challenge, it’s also totally survivable.
If you’ve ever done a meditation session with me before, you may have heard me talk about the way your breath can both lighten and ground you at the same time. It’s really the ideal tool for centering in that way. In my opinion, it’s also the perfect combination of yin and yang that you need when you feel like the ground’s shifting underneath you. It’s not that it makes you feel like it isn’t shifting, but it does help you realize that you don’t need to wobble uncontrollably along with it.
For this weekend’s mindfulness challenge, we’re going to reclaim the stable ground within ourselves. We’ll use a tool called a gatha to help us do this. Gathas are sometimes referred to as “meditation poems,” but they are really more like a mantra that you think to yourself instead of repeating out loud.
So here’s how it goes:
- Find a comfortable seat, and if you can, close your eyes. If that’s not happening for whatever reason, find a spot on the floor or wall that isn’t really going to entertain you in the next few minutes.
- Check in with your breath. You’ve been at it this whole time, but take a moment to actually notice its rhythm, pace, and the way your breath feels as it enters and exits your body. If your mind’s already starting to wander, just bring it back to these particular observations.
- After a few rounds of inhales and exhales, add your gatha:
- On an inhale, think to yourself, “I know I’m breathing in.”
- With your exhale, think “I know I’m breathing out.”
- On the following inhale, “I’m breathing in lightness.”
- And then on your exhale, “I’m grounding in strength.”
- Repeat as many times as you like (I recommend at least 3 full rounds).
- Before closing out your meditation, take 3 additional rounds of deep inhales and full exhales, releasing any tension you may still be holding in your body, resetting yourself and preparing to return to your day.
Gathas offer a nice means for keeping us focused and centered during a seated meditation, with a little more to anchor us than other types of breathwork or meditation. This one in particular reminds us that we have everything we need to stay grounded even when everything around us seems in flux. Even when life seems stable, it never stays that way for long. It’s comforting – and empowering – to know that all you need to ride those waves in peace is your intention, your attention, and your breath.
Have a fun and peaceful weekend!
Photo credit: Jad Limcaco
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