Note: This is a guest post by Adrienne Jurado from Experience Life Fully.
When was the last time you said, “Oh I would love to, but…” Or, “I wish I could, but…
“I’m just too busy.”
It seems like no matter what time of year or what day of the week, we are always too busy.
There are so many things throughout the day that demand our attention, things that must get done, like work or school.
There are the things we feel we should be doing. House chores. Catching up on email. Exercising. Volunteering.
Then there are things we really want to do. Spending time with pets, kids, family, and friends. Traveling. Relaxing. Making a valuable contribution.
Every day, we are pulled in so many directions — so many people vying for our attention. It can even get to the point where the things and people we enjoy become a burden to us.
We end up stressed and overwhelmed.
It’s a slippery slope — once you start going down, it can be really difficult to regain your footing.
Pretty soon, you’re not getting enough sleep and you have very little energy. You start drinking more coffee, eating more sugary junk, and feeling too burnt out to exercise. You’re too tired to focus and really accomplish much of anything.
All of that weight can become uncomfortable, and your “must dos, should do, and want to dos” start turning into “don’t want to dos, can’t dos, and won’t dos.”
So how can we stop this vicious cycle before it completely bogs us down? How do we remove this weight so we can bring our minds back to a state of ease — a place where we are energized, motivated, and focused?
If you’ve been visiting Sandra’s wonderful site for awhile, you already know one powerful way to calm the mind and recenter yourself: meditation.
In an age of constant distraction, it can be extremely difficult to sit still and try not to focus on your thoughts. This is why many beginning meditation techniques advise choosing a point of focus, such as an image or mantra to repeat.
Even this is often too much for my overburdened and distracted mind to handle. Yes, I realize ‘practice makes perfect.’ I know that if I am kind to myself and stick with it, it will eventually get easier, but…
What if I want a clearer mind today?
In attempt to try, I decided to conduct a little meditation experiment.
The idea first came to me a few months ago, when I was listening to Anne of Green Gables (one of my favorite childhood stories) on audiobook. It’s a story about a young orphan girl with a wild and vivid imagination.
Listening to her fanciful tales began to rekindle my own active imagination. So one morning, I found a way to put it to good use. It’s a little something I like to call…
Here’s what it looked like for me. After this simple exercise, I found myself feeling clear, refreshed, and unburdened.
Perhaps it can work for you, too. You won’t know until you try, right?
1. Start with a spark.
What’s something simple and accessible that you really enjoy?
Children might not need anything to get their imagination going, but we sometimes need that initial spark.
For me, that’s French-press coffee and a bit of soothing music. And perhaps a “warm campfire” scented candle.
If you are a more visual person, start with a few inspiration photos in front of you.
2. Separate yourself from the stream of busyness.
Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit.
I have a couch downstairs in my office with some fluffy pillows that worked well for me.
You could be in a chair or on the floor. Find whatever works best for you. A word to the wise — you may want to avoid your bed. Yes, you want to activate your imagination, but not in your sleep!
3. Begin with gratitude.
Call to mind some of your best childhood memories, and try to imagine yourself back there.
I found myself holding my mom’s hand as we walked through the crowded town square of Trier, Germany. I was 8 years-old and it was the annual Weihnachtsmarkt — the Christmas festival.
Continue floating through some of your favorite memories, recalling all of the wonderful people and places in them.
Now imagine gathering up all of these memories in your hands and bringing them to your heart. You may even want to physically stretch out your arms and scoop in all of these precious memories.
Center yourself in a warm and cozy sense of gratitude for all of these good times.
4. Engage your senses.
What time of year was it? Was it warm or cold out? What smells were mingling in the air? If you were to reach your hands out, what would you feel? What sounds do you hear?
It’s a brisk December afternoon, but I’m warm and bundled up as my mom and I walk through the crowded marketplace. Smells of sizzling bratwurst, cinnamon-roasted almonds, and warm glühwein mix with the scent of wooden toys and fresh pine needles.
Slowly breathe in all of those wonderful scents. Feel your breath come in through your nose and flow down into your lungs.
Allow your belly to rise and your chest to expand, and slowly let the breath flow back out through your nose. Continue taking several slow, deep breaths before falling into a steady rhythm of breathing.
6. Choose a point of focus.
As you breathe and slowly float among your memories, gradually settle into one memory. From there, choose a single point of focus.
My gaze settled onto the small pouch of tiny worry dolls my mom just bought for me. I cradled it in the palm of my gloved hand. I allow everything else to fade and just focused on the small pouch.
7. Capture those feelings.
As you continue to slowly breathe in and out and concentrate on your point of focus, notice how you feel.
Is it a sense of giddiness and excitement or more calm and comfortable? Do you feel relieved or relaxed?
I was flooded with a warm sense of familiarity, joy, and contentment. In that moment, none of my worries existed and all was right with the world.
8. Choose to carry them with you.
Once again, either physically or metaphorically reach our your arms and gather in all of those feelings. Imagine that you could bottle up all of that goodness into a little pouch of your own.
Now imagine wearing that pouch around your neck so that it sits close to your heart, or you could even tuck it safely into a pocket.
Take a few more cleansing breaths. As you return to reality and go about your day, recall to mind that little pouch you are carrying with you.
~ ~ ~
No, it won’t make your to-do list magically disappear, but hopefully it will help clear away some of those worries and lighten your load a bit. Perhaps now you can go about your day just a little bit calmer and a little bit clearer.
Because in addition to all of that weight you carry around on your shoulders, you also carry a lifetime of special memories — and there are plenty more to come!
Ahh, I’m feeling better. What about you?
Adrienne Jurado is a facilitator, coach, writer, adventurer, and wisdom-seeker on a journey to live an extraordinary life and make a valuable contribution to the world. Her education in physics and psychology, combined with her military experience and love for the great outdoors, brings a unique perspective to the insights she shares at Experience Life Fully. Connect with Adrienne on Twitter or Facebook.
If you liked this article, please share the link with others. Thank you! And a very special thank you to Adrienne for this excellent lesson in imagination meditation. All my love, Sandra