By Marguerite Jill Dye
Sometimes we just need to click “pause” to escape from the craziness of everyday life. Full schedules, obligations, media, and events cause many to live in constant distraction. But when we take a few minutes within, our inner nature reveals itself. Pushing the pause button gives us the time to turn experiences into “ah-ha” moments.
Synchronizing our body and spirit is essential for our fulfillment. There’s a separate reality, a world apart that connects us to our spirit. If we replace the chatter with stillness and imagine ourselves in a peaceful place, then even on a hectic day, we’re blessed with a new perspective. There we can hear the “still, small voice” that speaks within our heart, providing direction and knowledge we need to stay on our true course. Some people say it’s our “higher self”; others believe it’s God within. Many call it the divine spark that connects us with our spirit. Meditation is a fruitful way for the mind and soul to be in touch and help us stay true to our purpose.
One thousand eight hundred studies have demonstrated how meditation changes the structure of the brain, according to Dr. Joe Dispenza in “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.” Just eight weeks of meditating a few minutes each day increases blood flow and grows the frontal cortex of the brain to the size of a 20-year-old’s. It improves response time, boosts brainpower, and helps alleviate fatigue. Slow, rhythmic breaths of four to six counts help set the intention of calming the mind. Buddhist monks strive to achieve alpha brain waves that enhance creativity, relaxation, and the ability to learn.
Some people focus on a single positive thought, but my teacher suggests beginning with a visualization of nature. Seeing in the mind’s eye and also sensing a peaceful place – i.e., the sounds of singing birds and a gurgling stream, the warmth of the sun on the face, cool water swirling around the feet – help shift the mind into the alpha state. Meditating in nature is wonderful, too, when the changeable weather cooperates.
Another teacher once instructed, if thoughts enter the mind, “bless them and let them go.”
Buddhist monk, Thich Mat Hanh, said sitting quietly for a few minutes is “the best way to start training yourself to let go of habitual thinking.” One of his 100 books helped introduce walking meditation to the West. “Walking is a wonderful way to clear the mind without trying to clear the mind. You don’t say, ‘Now I am going to practice meditation!’ or ‘Now I am going to not think!’ You just walk, and while you’re focusing on the walking, joy and awareness come naturally.”
Another way to process and release myriad thoughts and life lessons is through the art of journaling. In “The Artist’s Way,” author Julia Cameron suggests writing three “morning pages” in long-hand to get past the mind’s constant chatter. (They are not to be shared or even reread.) Pages sometimes start with “bla, bla, bla” – a purging of negative emotions. Mine often morph into compulsive to-do lists. But then, day by day, pages give way to creative solutions to old problems and new ways of thinking and behaving. Bright ideas tend to follow. After a time, something magical happens: the subconscious opens up to reveal long lost and forgotten dreams.
Many creative souls have discovered their artistic calling or switched to new venues revealed in the daily task. In her own morning pages, Julia Cameron rediscovered her lost dream of becoming a screenwriter, which she realized in launching another facet of her brilliant career.
Whichever method we may choose to pause and connect with our highest self, it keeps us mindful of the connection we share and helps us rediscover inner knowledge and truth. It’s often said that we are souls having a human experience. The more we connect with our spiritual selves, the more human we become.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and the Green Mountains of Vermont.