Do you think animals meditate? How about reptiles?
It never crossed my mind until a few years ago on a visit to the local nature center. My little boy and I were both drawn to a huge lizard in the back room. Standing side by side our eyes were captivated...the lizard was as still as a stone!
Lessons from a Lizard
Was I seeing things? Or was the Giant Lizard in a meditative state? He looked scary at first with a massive crocodile-like body and pointy scales running down his back. But then we spotted something familiar...a big bowl of green salad. This creature was a vegetarian like us, cool! Mesmerized by how long the lizard could go without moving or blinking, we moved closer to his head, our breath steamed up the thin glass wall. His face was only inches from ours, but the lizard didn’t budge! He seemed to be in a deep state and as a long time meditation practitioner, strangely, I recognized this.
Life Off The Cushion
It wasn’t until I was in my thirties and having children that I started to make the connection between daily meditation practice and life “off the cushion.” Before nursing my kids, getting to bed early was a priority so I could wake up before sunrise to meditate.
But as all parents know "my" time morphed into "our" time. During my kids early years, I learned an important lesson about meditation and mindful parenting. Knowing how to tune in to a deeper awareness is a skill regular meditation practitioners can develop. And although I had to put my scheduled practice aside for a year or two, I started using moments when my kids were engaged to meditate. I realized I could practice a deeper awareness anywhere... just like the Giant Lizard!
The Benefits of Daily Practice
Although daily meditation practice requires commitment/practice, the payoff is priceless. I have found that the regular cultivation of deeper awareness through meditation can be incredibly useful for daily life. This "skill" can increase calm at anytime or anywhere. Perhaps like the Giant Lizard (who lived in a glass box) we can use our awareness/skill as a meditation practitioner to create space inside ourselves when we feel confined, anxious, overwhelmed or frustrated. The quality of our lives can change if we make the effort!
Here is a Simple Meditation to try:
A Simple Meditation Practice
1. Sit up with your back straight on a chair, or cross-legged in your bed against the wall. (Important: you must have your spine erect). 2. Get comfortable. You can place a pillow under your bottom and wrap a blanket/shawl around your shoulders. 3. Dim the lights and gently close your eyes. 4. Take a few deep breaths... 5. You may notice that the mind is thinking many thoughts (this is ok, the mind’s function is processing). 6. Don't concern yourself with the content of the mind/thoughts, just watch... 7. Notice You are more than your thoughts, You are the Observer~ 8. It's helpful to focus on your breath...
9. Inhale through the nose, Exhale through the mouth...evenly, gently 10. Repeat step 8 and 9 several times, over and over until you are feeling lighter/positive
You are“practicing” a basic meditation- 5 minutes a day is a great start!