12 New Year Rituals, Day 6 :: PRESENT

{no.6 in a 12-part series on new year's rituals, inspired by this MindBodyGreen article}

ritual for january 06: present

Life can pass you by if you are so busy making plans and doing stuff. We forget to just BE. Focus on one thing at a time, unplug from your smart phone and computer for five minutes every hour if you can, take a deep breath every time your phone rings, be conscious of walking the earth, one step at a time, really listen to yourself and others. (original article)

I feel compelled to talk about Meditation For The Rest of Us. Does anyone else feel intimidated every time you read ethereal articles written by shining gurus who've mastered It All while wearing coordinated yoga gear into which you cannot hope to fit a single thigh? Yeah, me too. I love those people, those otherworldly zen nymphs who float in and out of my base reality. They inspire me, but not in the sense that I want to become them. That's not my speed. They inspire me to figure out what works for me. On that note, a word about Meditation For The Rest of Us:


Permission Slip No.1: It doesn't have to be epic. Really, it doesn't. Do not be intimidated by the word "meditation" and everything you think it's supposed to mean. Make it as simple as you need it to be. Twice a day an alarm goes off on my phone with a simple reminder to "PRACTICE GRATITUDE." If I'm with other people when it goes off, I flip the screen around for them to see and I ask them what they're grateful for. It became a running joke when I was home for the holidays. My dad would hear the chime, put on his "NPR voice" and say: "I...invite you...to practice...gratitude."

Permission Slip No.2: Something is sacred because you say it is. Period. You have the power to declare what is sacred for you in your life. Does a meditation altar work for you? Does it focus your attention? Great. Do it. Can you speak crystal and do their individual energies hold meaning for you? Get thee to a hippie gift shop and find a stone that feels right. Tarot? Pull a card each morning and throughout the day think about what it's teaching you. Is all of that too woo woo weird and you'd rather just declare a sunny corner of your home as place to clear your mind? Perfect. Roll with it. Sacred is what you say it is. 

Permission Slip No.3: You can stop and breathe at any time. Just breathe. Take a beat to regroup. Let it be that easy. In fact, let's do it right now: Deep breath in through your nose for five seconds, hold it for three seconds and say in your mind: "thank you," breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. Do that three times and voila...you meditated. On the bus, in a board meeting, walking to your mailbox, before you drift off to sleep, the moment you sort of wake up. Just breathe. The effect is cumulative and tangible. I promise. 


In addition to the the practices outlined above, I'll out myself as one of those woo woo people with an altar and crystals and sage and sacred objects. I also read tarot regularly, though I don't have any cards on my altar right now. It works for me. It's nothing fancy, just a windowsill on a sunny south-facing wall in my master bedroom. On the night of every full moon (or thereabouts if I'm traveling) I clear it off, clean it, bless it, clear the energy of my crystals and other sacred objects, recharge everything with my desires and intentions, and recreate a fresh altar with a new configuration. Sometimes I add things. Sometimes I take things away. There's no wrong way to go about it. It's about focusing my attention on my Core Desired Feelings and so everything on my altar is a visual reminder of who I'm becoming. It's sacred because I say it is.

I try to spend time every day sitting in front of my altar - meditating, breathing, journaling, talking to myself, taking a break from staring at constantly-chirping screens both small and large, just sitting, repeating my Core Desired Feelings as I work my way through 108 mala beads, whatever I feel like doing or not doing that day. I'm not perfect in sticking with a daily habit, but I don't have to be. Neither do you. Just breathe.

Love + plenty of woo woo,

P.S. What helps you focus? Do you have something you consistently do when you need to regroup? I'd love to hear about what works for you.  

12 New Year Rituals, Day 7 :: PURIFY

12 New Year Rituals, Day 5 :: PLAY