Meditation + Contemplative Prayer
My husband and I have been talking for months about the busy-ness of life, being present, especially with our son, and how we need to decompress from all the noise on a daily basis.
We love hiking and camping and the feeling of being out in the middle of the big wilderness or on top of a mountain and being completely alone with each other. There is such peace in that, such restorative silence. We have realized that we need to tap into that on a daily basis. Social media, careers, social events, even television are all good things in our lives but can be distracting and overwhelming. In order to re-center our hearts and minds and let go of all the noise, we have added meditation and contemplative prayer to our daily routine.
This is what my morning meditation practice looks like...
I keep the lights low and sit on the floor at our meditation bench. I like to apply grounding or calming oils behind my ears, on my wrists and on the back of my neck. Some of my favorites include frankincense, vetiver, grounding, tranquil or peace & calming. A drop of peppermint oil on the back of the neck is great for focus. I set my timer on my phone, then close my eyes and clear my mind. I picture myself floating on an ocean with the waves moving in the rhythm of my breathing. I imagine a net above me that catches any thoughts that creep into my head. Then I mentally speak the phrase 'peace, control' as I inhale and exhale. With every breath I am accepting the peace that The Lord has given me as I let go of control of my life, of all the things that are obscuring my peace. I continue this for the next few minutes until my timer goes off. During the day, when I start to feel anxious or frantic, I am able to access that same calm, peaceful state and therefore handle stress much better. Ideally, this is done in the morning before any other activity, but some days it doesn't happen, so I find a few quiet moments during nap time or at the end of the day instead.
Contemplative prayer is a new-to-me concept that is incredibly grounding. We all want to hear the voice of the Lord in our lives, but that requires us to really stop and listen. Contemplative prayer allows us to access that place where He can speak. He asks us to 'Be still. And know that I am God.' so let's take some time to just be still with Him and meditate on His promises. (I'm not guaranteeing you will hear an audible voice, and I am not saying this is the only way in which the Lord speaks. This is just one practice that I believe to be beneficial and even vital to your relationship with the Almighty.)
+ Start with just 1-2 minutes a day and add time to your total every week
+ Find a mantra that works for you, and inhale saying one part, then exhale with the second part.
+ I find essential oils such as frankincense, lavender or vetiver helpful for grounding and centering myself and for achieving a more 'zen' state.
+ Some people find it helpful to have something in hand, such as prayer beads. Running the beads through your hands in a mindless, methodical movement may help you focus.
+ The book How God Changes Your Brain is incredibly fascinating as it looks at the physical changes that occur in the brain through faith and meditation - decreased stress and anxiety, slowing down the aging process.