Monday, November 10, 2008

Getting Quiet

Last week while working with a coaching client on some big life decisions, the topic came up about why we make excuses to stay busy and avoid quiet time.

Some call this prayer, meditation or reflection—in essence, it’s time to be alone in stillness and to connect to our inner wisdom, our higher power or as one of my clients says—our internal “GPS system.”

I tend to be a “choose your own path, do what works for you” kind of coach, but as I get older, I am telling my clients (particularly those in transition) that if they do nothing else, carving out time for reflection each morning—when our minds are the least busy—is not only important, it’s essential. I wrote about this last spring in my newsletter in Five Minutes a Day to Peace and Well-Being.

This past weekend my husband and I had a rare 24 hours to ourselves while my son visited his aunt and uncle. There were a lot of things we wanted to accomplish during our time alone (some important household projects, luxuriating in the feeling that “we could do anything we wanted!!” and definitely a fun night out), but I also wanted to take advantage of the rare opportunity to meditate together Sunday morning. If you've ever meditated or prayed with others, you know how powerful this experience can be.

There are many wonderful teachers that talk about the power of stillness and taking time to connect with the Divine (or God, your higher power, etc.)—meditation guru John Kabat-Zinn, founder of centering prayer Father Thomas Keating, Omega Institute founder Elizabeth Lesser and author/teacher Marianne Williamson are some of my favorite guides around this topic.

For me the difference between days I meditate and days I don’t, feels like the difference between walking through my day barefoot versus wearing shoes.

When I meditate in the morning—whether it’s 5 minutes in the car after dropping my son at school or 20 minutes before I start my work day—I feel grounded, protected, more at ease with life, I roll with changes, I’m more centered and little things don’t turn into big things quite so easily.

When I don’t meditate—when I enter my day and the world, barefoot—I am more fragile, and when I step on pebbles, I get irritated more easily. I'm also not as trusting and when I encounter unexpected events on my path--which we always do-- I’m more easily thrown off course.

For years, I fought this idea of a morning ritual, creating dedicated time every day to get quiet before entering the world. “It’s too hard when you’re a parent, I’m too busy, I’ll do it later in the day, my husband won’t join me, I don’t have ‘the right’ space in my home and my favorite—does it really make a difference?” are all the excuses that would rattle around in my head, justifying my position to postpone what I now know to be the single most important part of my day.

You might try starting your day with a meditation as an “experiment” ….. even just taking 5 minutes each morning to feel what you’re grateful for before you start your work day.

I believe that within the stillness lie the answers to all our questions. We just have to get quiet enough to hear them.

P.S. If you’re a parent, you might want to check out my chapter on Parenting as a Spiritual Journey from The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. It ties into this theme. I did not formally meditate regularly and consistently until about year ago. It has definitely had a huge impact on how I parent, among other things. I just need to remember this and not self-sabotage by blowing it off.

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