Thich Naht Hanh speaks about using meditation bells to bring ourselves back into mindfulness. Ideally, when you hear these bells you stop, breathe and take a moment to recenter yourself. A moment of meditation right where you stand. This leads to releasing stress and regaining happiness. With meditation bells, you are conscious of the moment. He also mentions that anything can take the place of meditation bells, you just have to specify what will represent it – his examples are church bells near your work or home, the phone ringing, an alarm clock and even red lights while driving. Things you come into contact with often but will not appear on purpose.
Most likely some of these examples are present in your life, if not all of them, so you can use them as small reminders to come back to a relaxed mind-space.
When I read this is his book I realized it’s something I have been practicing without even knowing it. There are two things specifically that make me stop in my tracks, cause an instant smile and an immediate deep breath. They aren’t as obvious as the bells but they work for me:
Bear with me… I’m being serious here
- The smell of fresh bread in my neighborhood
- The intro song to Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Podcast. Yes. seriously.
Meditation doesn’t have to be all serious all the time, you should gain something from it and one of those things is happiness.
So, what in your life causes an instant smile?
Neighborhood image credit.
We only have today, what are you going to do with it?
I am safe. I am loved.
We all feel vulnerable from time to time. Whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual it is a tough feeling to break through. Reminding yourself that you are safe is important. If you lose your job, if you end a relationship, if you lose sight of your beliefs, you will survive. You are safe. Remember to lean into your support system and that no matter what faith you belong to, you can find support in community, prayer and faith.
You are loved. In addition to being safe, you are loved. Reminding yourself of people who care about you is important. Not just listing them, really think about how they show their special type of love; respect, help, listening, support…
Maslow’s hierarchy or needs start with the physiological, you know, food, water, sleep… but after that is safety and then love. These are basic human needs and sometimes we lose sight of the. So always remind yourself… You are Safe. You are Loved.
Use this mantra when you are feeling nervous or anxious.
Take a long breath in and say/think to yourself I AM SAFE.
Release a long breath while saying/thinking I AM LOVED.
Who mediates? Raise your hand!
If you are one of the many people who didn’t raise your hand, may I ask why? Is it intimidating? You don’t think you have time? It’s too new-agey? All of these reasons are real and legitimate. But I will say, I hope you find the strength to push those thoughts from your mind. Meditating can be as simple as turning off the TV and putting your phone down for 10 minutes. That’s it! OR it can be done on the drive to work, in a line or in class/work. Don’t believe me?
I present to you my two favorite meditation tools. These are what got me into meditation and I am so thankful.
Head Space. Created by Andy Puddicombe, their website has some information and help BUT the free app called Head Space (found on the website and in the App Store) challenges people to meditate 10 minutes a day, for 10 days. I promise it will help with stress, clear thinking and feeling over all refreshed. View his 10 minute Ted Talk HERE
Also Gabby Bernstein. Her books are great but this specific meditation that I do when I start to get stressed or overwhelmed works wonders. In public or at home. Most recently I went to an over-crowded outdoor event in the humidity. Typically each one of those words stress me out, put them all together and you have one unhappy camper. Luckily, I watched this video by Gabby a couple of weeks ago. It cooled me down mentally, and in turn physically because I wasn’t worked up. You will learn it’s recommended for one minute but now that I have practiced it for a while once I start it the stress melts away. Check it out, try it out, and let me know what you think!
*I claim no credit or ownership for any visual content contained in this post.