Meditation for self-care
This post is about my self-care. Being that I am a healthcare provider and work with little babies, I have been aware of this need for a long time because #selfcareisnotoptional. In the past week, I have upped my care during the information overload about COVID-19. I am doing it for my clients but also for myself. I am one of those higher risk people due to a history of asthma and lung challenges. In the rare times I get sick, it always lands in my chest/lungs. I definitely do not want to let my immune system tank in these next few weeks or months.
My morning routine since July 2018 consists of a spiritual reading and mantra repetition. Without fail, every day, I do this usually before I get out of bed. 616 times so far! It is simple, it is short but it is the consistency over time that is so important.
I start off every morning with a short spiritual reading. When I say short, I mean a phone screen worth of daily reading. I sometimes do more, but usually it is a small clip. I love to read so this is an easy piece for me to implement. There are lots of ways to do this, including signing up for daily emails, or reading the Bible daily. I find that I need to keep my reading succinct and without distraction. Daily emails don't work as well for me because I see all the other emails as well. Right now I am using an app called the Daily Guru, because of the month I spent at the Living Yoga program at Yogaville. This was an amazing experience for me, and the app reminds me of the teachings.
What exactly is a mantra? It is just a repeated phrase said or thought over and over. It can be a prayer, it can be a affirmation, it can be one word or several sentences. (I do find though that too many words is distracting and my mind wanders more.) The intent is to help your mind focus on that thought for the time of your meditation and then come back to that thought during the day when it is needed. Be careful what you choose, because it may not serve you. Some easy ones are "God is Love" , "Peace be with all", "God's will be done", "Om". The Rosary is a good example in our western religions of the use of a mantra which uses the Hail Mary & Our Father repetitively.
My mantra was given to me by a very special spiritual teacher who probably doesn't even remember me, but she understood what I needed. I was taking spiritual direction from Mataji, a senior swami at Yogaville. (If you click on the Mataji link, it will take you to a beautiful video of her life.) I was struggling with daily meditation, and couldn't settle on my own mantra. I tried a little bit of everything, both prayers I knew from before and new things that I was trying. We discussed this and I remember her looking at me with her very clear eyes, and telling me what a good mantra would be for me. I expected a Sanskrit phrase, but was instead given a short English prayer. I didn't actually like it at first and I continued to struggle with even remembering it. I changed it once or twice trying to make it flow better in my mind. What I didn't realize is that the mantra was working on my mind, my mind was not supposed to work on the mantra! Once I settled into it, I have been commit
ted to repeating 108 repetitions of it every morning . This mantra has rooted me through some fairly intense times.
Why 108 repetitions? Because there are 108 beads in my mala. Makes it easy to count, by just moving from bead to bead after each repetition. When I make it around the circle of beads, back to the red fuzzy thing, I am done. If I don't have my beads, I use my knuckles on my fingers. My thumb is my counter. On one hand I have 12 knuckles. 9X12 =108. So my right hand is my repetitions count, and it moves every time I say my mantra. My left hand counts how many 12s I did, so it moves every 12 repetitions. If this has totally confused you, I have made a short video to help you out.
These days, there are many tools to help you meditate. However, I will say that a confused mind always says no, and too many choices may make it hard to say yes to one way. Mataji counseled me to keep it simple and consistent, that it is better to say 108 reps than to try to meditate for 30 minutes every day if that 30 minutes is going to be easy to skip. As a way to increase my meditation time to compensate for the stress in the world, I am using Insight Timer. This is an easy way to begin.
As I wrap this up, I had originally thought that I would add several resources to give choices, but I now realize that I am sharing what has worked for me in a simple and concise way.
May your day be filled with peace, joy, love and light!