In busy times it is important to continue to cultivate spaciousness in our lives. We are often overwhelmed by a multitude of tasks, bills to pay, phone calls to make, work and school, our jobs. Oftentimes, people I meet may be doing things that do not inspire or nurture their well being. Creating a small bit of space helps to hear the voice that is calling out for what will sustain our hearts and souls, our health and joy. This also helps to cultivate commitment and regularity. By doing this you are able to create a calmer mind, cultivate discernment and begin to more deeply understand the nature of impermanence.
We can create spaciousness in a few different ways. We may choose to practice five or fifteen minutes of sitting meditation each morning or afternoon. We can stop our work on the computer for five minutes sometime during the day and rest, quietly looking out the window. We can choose to become aware of our breath while we are driving, walking, taking the subway. When we sit down in the park for ten minutes, we may discover our worry chatter suddenly shifts into a more nurturing voice, or inspired thoughts may arise. When you decide to cultivate spaciousness, leave it at that. Don’t think too much about this. I know for myself I often delay meditation because I don’t have the ‘right cushion’ right now, or I just need to get up and get water…then a bit of food…then check email… You must make it simple and accessible for yourself! This is a tiny commitment and how easily we distract ourselves.
If you decide to cultivate a daily practice, try to stick to it for a few days at first. When you forget about it, then go back to it again. Be gentle with yourself. The following is a good practice for daily meditation. Decide on a time and place. Then, sit in a comfortable meditative posture. The recommended posture is to sit with your back straight in either cross legged, lotus or half lotus position. If this is uncomfortable, sit in a chair, but try to keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed. Start with five minutes a day simply focusing on the breath. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. Once you have achieved this for a month, then practice focusing on the breath for five minutes, then focus specifically on the in breath and out breath for ten, and then again on the breath generally for five. You may want to close this fifteen minutes with a power song, an offering to your helper spirits and/or smoke offering. This simple closing helps to remind us to be in gratitude for the day and readies us for our spiritual work that arises throughout the day.
Although this exercise is important, I also emphasize to my students that sometimes people become either obsessed or rigid with the meditation or they feel guilty because they are not doing it. This seems to go against the very real reason to meditate which is simply to cultivate a calmer mind and more spaciousness. Spaciousness is key. Having the intention to create spaciousness will do so, perhaps even more so then sitting meditation. By creating spaciousness, we allow our inner hearts to arise and we begin to have direct experiences with the world. From these experiences, we receive insight, recognize our inner passion and become happier.