Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Cleaning the Mind

As Americans, we are a feisty bunch when it comes to our freedoms—either to expand them or not. The internal struggle can get ugly.

Just look at the news today, here and around the world. You see the struggle to expand freedom—and the attempt to hinder that expansion.

North-South, East-West, liberal-conservative—religions, extremes. Does that make the mid-west neutral? Hell no.

Our positions help to define us, but we need to go beyond the extremes. What also defines us is our reaction to change—which is inevitable. It is not the change that is important – it is our reaction to the change—hopefully one that is conducive to progress.

Last week, I promised you more metaphors. You Sci-fi fans of The Matrix will understand when I talk about the web that would embroil us, control us, manipulate us to maintain the status quo; keep us from making the changes within ourselves—which is the opposite of freedom. The web is made up of our fears--mind control of our own allowing.

The antidote is to trust your inner feelings that vibrate to love and expansiveness for yourself and others. Constriction is death. Fear will cause you to hunker down in that safe, dark fort to defend the status quo.

Hopefully you have practiced Part 1
To sum up: you have meditated 15 minutes a day and taken the time to get rid of the mind garbage (the voices that fill you with fears and hesitations and all the reasons you shouldn’t. . . . ), and you have created some cracks in those structures that bind you. Now breathe.

No, I mean really—do some deep breathing exercises to fill your brain with the oxygen it needs so you can further release tension in the body. If you have not been able to still the mind using last week's suggestions, try adding this to your meditation.

(I was going to jump right into the next step, but after reading comments from the last post, I realized I need to back up slightly and get more specific and detailed. (You elementary school teachers out there know what I mean; when you get the blank stares.) So I will quickly review and clarify Part I. The rest of you can move on to Part 2 below.)

YES YOU CAN FIND THE TIME TO DO THIS—but if you CHOOSE not to, then that is another story. If you can’t make 15 min in your day for yourself, I have no further advice. If we say we can’t, most times it is because we don’t WANT to. Just acknowledge that and move on. But remember that sometimes we need to retreat (or in this case stop to meditate) before we can move forward, and often we find we get to our destination faster as a result.

I timed myself this morning and thought, if I can’t find 15 – 20 min, could I do it in 5 min? For those willing to find 5 minutes, do this:
1.       Count back from 20 to 1 while breathing deeply as follows:
     a.       Breathe in as much air as you can, filling to the bottom of your lungs, and then on the out-breath release tension -- counting backwards: 20, next breath, inhale/exhale completely-count 19, etc.

     b.      With each in-breath, tighten a specific part of your body from the head down (head, face, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, lower abdomen, sphincter, legs, feet), then release the tense energy you are holding on each exhale count. (For those of you familiar with the chakras, you can inhale and exhale into those centers instead.)

     c.       When you finish, relax and breathe normally.

     d.      Now observe your body from inside: where are the tight areas (make note of this) . 

If time has run out (the 5 minutes, then you can do next step tomorrow—but you will have to do some quick deep breathing again to release areas of tension build up). 

Take note of where the tension is and apply a metaphor. (I warned you I wasn’t done with metaphors yet)
---pressure in chest- that squeezing feeling—the pressure you are feeling with all the things you need to get done; feeling squeezed like a vise

---pain in the stomach might be you can’t stomach something in your life right now

---eye discomfort--you are not seeing some issue clearly

                When you are through this you have some idea where you are stuck—and another insight into how to address your resistance.

Now that you have emptied the mind (Part 1), on to:

Part 2
It is a good idea to have pen and paper handy because you will have creative thoughts come in and you will want to dialogue with your creative side (some of you feel more comfortable with your lap top-whatever works for you—but DON”T be tempted to get on the internet for a quick peek--you know who you are).

The deep breathing and letting go of tension will usually free up a thought that will present itself and you might have a question about it. It could be anything. Write down the question. Empty the mind again and listen to the thoughts that now come in answer to your written question—you might get another question, write it down and keep going. Write down the answer(s) even if they sound weird. 

Some days the questions may be quite mundane, but a part of you needs the answers for that issue, that day. Don’t push or manipulate it, just let come what comes. Other times you will be concentrating more on creative endeavors and the richness of your creativity will begin to come into your train of thought.

Maybe the question is about the book you are writing, a character, how to handle a difficult person in your life—your mind/your questions—and your answers.

You have cracked that box surrounding you a little bit, maybe created an opening, and can celebrate the fact that you are moving toward a new paradigm—opening the windows and letting in the fresh air.

Greater openness--a bigger picture--more expansiveness--new possibilities for your future. How fast you advance is an individual thing. How hard you  hold onto the past will drag on you in equal measure, and your progress will go much slower, but any movement forward, however small, is good.

The eclectic cool-aid has been shared. Let me know if this was helpful or just "eh." I have a tough skin.

If you wish to share your thoughts more privately, you can message me on my Facebook author page.


elizabethfais said...

I love your analogies to The Matrix, one of my all-time favorite movies, because they're so true. You are right about having to "want" to change and break free of the limitations we've constrained ourselves with. Most of the time, unfortunately, we have to hurt enough to get to that place. But when we do ... ahhh ... the results are amazing!

Cora said...

The Matrix is a favorite of mine as well. I think we all resist change at some time or other in our lives. Change is hard and we have to work up to it on particularly difficult areas. Doing a breathing and releasing yoga really makes it go easier.

Kim Griffin said...

I needed this reminder to meditate, Cora. Thanks! I have been meaning to take a few minutes in the morning to meditate and do a short sun salutation to start the day.

I'm inspired now :)