Getting out of bed in the morning is slowly becoming easier. Although I still hit the snooze button twice, when I finally slid out of the bed, I was ready! No longer burdened with my three-day commitment to guided meditation, I decided to return to another long-time favorite technique.
Today, I practiced a variation of a technique known as focused attention meditation (aka concentration meditation). While one's focus can be target toward an external object or body part, I like to focus my attention on a short quote or mantra. I like this form of meditation because my needs change daily--all of ours do. On a Monday, we might need a little extra motivation; on a day with a high-stakes meeting, we might need an added boost of confidence; and on a day during which we have a big presentation, a reminder to remain calm might be needed. Today (and most days), I needed compassion.
I am hosting a meeting today, and I am aware that I am concise with my feedback. Because I'm a woman of few words, my succinct diction is often perceived as blunt, and maybe a little harsh (I welcome my student to chime in on this note :-). Because I prefer straightforward feedback, I assume everyone else feels the same; however, my experiences prove that assumption wrong. So today, I found the perfect affirmation: "My heart is open. I speak with loving words."
Let me step you through how I do this practice:
- I begin with a few slow, deep, belly breaths in a comfortable, supported seated position.
- I think/mentally say the complete phrase during 3-4 breath cycles.
- As I begin to slow my breath more and more, I begin to separate the words in the phrase. I inhale while I focus on the first word, my; I exhale while focusing on heart; inhale on is; and, exhale on open. etc. I continue this pattern until I complete the phrase 3-4 times, then proceed to challenge my concentration further.
- Next, I separate the words further, focusing my full attention on each. separate. word. Attempting to have a clear mind on each inhalation, I focus on a single word during each exhalation until I complete the phrase. Again, I repeat this pattern 3-4 times.
- Next, I divide each word into syllables, concentrating on only one syllable during each exhalation.
- Finally, I finish with a few slow, deep breath cycles.
Although my meeting is not until this evening, I am sitting at my desk this morning feel joy and gratitude after a great meditation session this morning. Hopefully by taking time to reflect on my desire for compassion, I am able to share that emotion with others as a journey through this day.
What are some of your favorite daily affirmations? I'd love to use one in my next focused attention meditation!