“Curioser and curioser,” said Alice and then she famously fell down the hole that lead her on a problem solving quest. That’s what our brains are hot wired to do; solve problems and in order to solve a problem we must first pose a question. Why am I constantly tired? Why am I so stressed? Why do I always seem so angry? Why should I meditate?
The first three questions identify a state of suffering and we humans are good at suffering even without good reason! Suffering is a red flag to the brain as it is consuming valuable energy that we could be using to make new cells, digest foods, and even focus better on what is happening right now. If you try to maintain consistency of daily output while suffering you will be tired all the time. We meditate to conserve our mental energy which helps to restore our physical energy. Being stressed or reacting angrily can be related to habitual responses but also to being tired all the time. You will increase both your powers of observation and your response processing time with meditation. this means that instead of being ambushed by your own ‘knee jerk’ reaction you will have time to prepare a more measured and useful response.
Your brain is controlling everything you do, from walking down the street to texting a friend or colleague to crossing the road or even all 3 at once! But this doesn’t mean that our awareness is in all 3 acts. In fact, it is likely that your awareness will be in only one act and at a reduced level as you are engaged in other acts simultaneously. Meditation will help to increase your natural mindfulness as it will encourage your mind to be more ‘present’ or in the moment. The best tool or focus for meditation that you have is your breath. When you focus on your breath you are in the present moment. You cannot remain aware of a breath that happened 5 minutes ago or know what your breath will be like in 5 minutes time. Every breath is distinct and marginally different, a fact which you use to feed your curiosity which will help to maintain your focus.
Meditation Exercise: Observing The Breath
Find somewhere comfortable to sit with your back well supported. Make sure that the soles of your feet are in contact with the floor and allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. then let your breath find its own natural rhythm. Notice how your body responds to both the inhalation and the exhalation, naturally expanding through the ribs, belly and waist. Remind yourself of the movement of the diaphragm muscle as it draws downwards on the inhalation and releases upwards on the exhalation. then observe the passage of air as it enters the body through the nostrils, passes down the throat through the windpipe and into the lungs. Likewise, as it leaves the lungs and moves back up through the throat and out through the nostrils. Notice the difference in temperature as the air is inhaled and as the air is exhaled and how it feels at each stage of its journey in the nostrils, throat, windpipe and lungs. And, if only for the briefest of moments, you experience being in the moment with your breath, notice also how that feels.
To come out of your meditation exercise you should take 3 deep breaths. On the 3rd exhalation allow your chin to drop towards your chest. You can then decide when to open your eyes taking your time to pick up your routine.