Over the last month I have been attending a leadership workshop with some amazing women, mostly from Defence. These women are dynamic and successful, and their response to me as a yoga and meditation teacher is, “I can't possibly sit still for that long” or “I can’t keep my mind quiet” or “I tried a yoga class once and couldn't wait to leave”.
Well, I tried a yoga class once and couldn't wait to leave and I used to be Queen Fidget and I used to have such a busy mind that I thought I couldn’t meditate. I wasn’t born knowing how to be calm, in fact quite the opposite, I used to be quite mad! But I learned and I practiced because I had experiences that showed me the power of meditation in managing stress, pain and chronic madness.
So how did I go from Queen Fidget to meditation teacher? Was it in one big step – zero meditation to sitting in Lotus with an empty mind for an hour or stiffness to human pretzel, sceptic to sunflowers growing out of my head? No, it was in tiny steps, finding moments in my day when I was already not moving or using my newfound capacity for a few minutes of stillness to manage very stressful situations.
In my book, A Journey to Peace through Yoga, I write about this burgeoning meditation practice in the context of my first MS exacerbation in hospital in Britain. I was in hospital thinking I was dying. I had no stamina, no experience, a shirt load of fear, pain and dysfunction but when I could close my eyes, soften my breath and be still, my experience of my situation completely changed.
This skill became life changing when I began my yoga teacher training in an electric wheelchair. I would take any opportunity to relax my body and mind – traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, bank queues and the dreaded doctor’s waiting room.
And the consequence was that I started managing my condition rather than my condition managing me. The stress of my situation was immediately reduced, my relationships improved and my road to recovery began.
So I would like to offer you a series of Meditations in Life, to encourage other Queen Fidgets to find some stillness in their life. The first the Red Traffic Light meditation.
Red Light Meditation
So, in the middle of a busy day you are stuck at a red light. Maybe you are running late or maybe you just want to get where you're going…NOW! What do you do?
- Look at the offending set of traffic lights, specifically the red one.
- Let your vision soften – an easy way of doing this is remembering something or someone you love, you will find you automatically smile and your vision softens.
- Let your breathing slow down and your shoulders relax each time you breathe out – even a few breaths can make a difference.
- I have even recently started to turn my engine off and noticed that the few moments of relative silence is relaxing.
- Then when the light turns green, turn the engine on, sharpen your focus and re-enter your day with a clearer and calmer mind.
It's amazing but just these few minutes can make a huge difference to managing the stress of a busy day. And if you string them together with other lots of ‘few minutes’, you will soon notice your stress melting away and your experience of life changing.
I would love to hear about your experience of the Red Traffic Light Meditation, so please reply or send me an email.
Yours in stillness,
PS: If you find yourself feeling stressed at a traffic light, turn off your engine, soften your gaze and breathe.
Next meditation – The Hand Massage Meditation.
Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.