An Excerpt from Soul Soothers: Mini Meditations for Busy Lives
The Bell Meditation
2. Every time your sound or action occurs, take a deep breath. The phone will still be there if you wait one extra ring.
3. Pay attention to where your mind is. Are you thinking about what you are doing now, or is your mind in the past or future? Are your thoughts calm or agitated? Don’t judge yourself, simply note your thoughts, take a deep breath, and shift them if they need it
4. Pay attention to your body. Is your breathing shallow or deep? Are your shoulders tensed or relaxed? Are you sitting or standing correctly? Are you slumped over?
5. Fix anything that might be adversely affecting your body.
6. Pay attention to your surroundings. Are you being affected by outside influences?
7. Note how you are being affected and if possible, fix it.
8. Go back to what you are doing. Bring your newfound mindfulness into your activity.
Where and When
Use this mini-meditation to practice mindfulness throughout your day. The Bell Meditation is a reminder to come back to the state of mindfulness. When you hear your “bell,” check in to see where your mind is. Each time it “rings,” take a deep breath and connect with your mind, body, and environment. Bring yourself back to the present moment and mindfulness. Don’t judge what you find when you check in; simply note it.
The Bell Meditation is great for work. You can make any sound or activity into a bell as long as it isn’t happening constantly. A receptionist might not want to make a phone ringing into a bell, yet for someone who only gets calls a few times a day, it is perfect. The receptionist could use the mail delivery along with a trip to the copier as bells. If you are a busy mom, you could use walking through the doorway to the kitchen as your bell, or every time you get in or out of the car. Eventually your bell will get stale and loose its effectiveness and so you may need to change it a bit. If you are a person who gets caught up in the moment, loses track of time, obsesses, or whose physical disabilities are aggravated when you don’t pay attention to your body, this is a perfect meditation to keep you in touch with your thoughts, body, and environment. The Bell Meditation will assist any time you need to bring mindfulness into your daily life.
Dave is an author who travels, and between writing, websites, and social networking, spends a lot of time on his computer. He doesn’t get phone calls often; most people contact him via email. So a ringing phone does not work well as a bell. He also has a rebuilt spine and working at the computer can be quite painful. He wants to develop a bell so that he is reminded to get up and stretch as well as be mindful about how he is sitting. Since he travels, he needs a bell he can carry with him. He found an app for his iPhone that actually has a bell that he can set to go off a number of times a day. Dave is working at home today. When the iPhone bell goes off, he takes a deep breath, and puts his attention to where his thoughts are. His thoughts are positive and in the present moment, so he moves his attention to his body. He discerns that he is sitting in his chair cockeyed and his neck hurts. He stands up to stretch his muscles. Realizing that his neck pain is from the angle he was holding his head, he takes a few minutes to raise the computer monitor a couple of inches. Dave returns to working on the website, noting how much better his neck feels with the monitor adjusted.
Why – Discernment vs. Judgment
As discussed in the chapter on the Walking Meditation, adding mindfulness to your life offers you the ability to get off autopilot and back in your mind’s driver seat. Mindfulness helps you to be proactive instead of reactive, while compelling you to take responsibility for your actions. Yet, practicing mindfulness can also set you up to start judging yourself. You have enough people judging you without doing it yourself. This doesn’t mean that everything you do is fine, and that you are perfect, it only means that judging is not a productive way to institute change.
The human tendency is to judge what is experienced as either good or bad. This person is not nice, so he or she must be bad. This ice cream tastes rich and creamy, so it must be good. Many spiritual teachings emphasize the importance of being able to separate what you experience from how you feel about it. You can then decide if it is in your best interest, without judging it as good or bad. For example, decadent ice cream with all the sugar and calories may make the taste buds happy, and you say, “This is really good.” Yet if you eat too much of it, you may find the first rush of pleasure turning into a sugar crash. That sugar rush may feel good or bad depending on how your body processes sugar. Yet to deal with all that sugar, your pancreas pumps out a lot of insulin, challenging your immune system. Sleep will be difficult tonight and your immune system will take 24 hours to get back to normal, so you think the ice cream is bad. But when you look at this situation more closely, it isn’t the ice cream that is good or bad. The ice cream is simply ice cream. It is how your body feels after eating it that makes you decide if it is good or bad. Spiritual teachings suggest that you don’t label the ice cream at all. It is ice cream, not good or bad — it just is.
Looking at things as they are, without judging them, is called discernment. Your mind tends to judge; your intuition uses discernment. Your intuition looks at your situation, along with the most likely outcome of your options, to see which choice leads you closer to your soul’s path. In the case of ice cream, your intuition would not say it is good or bad, yet it might discern that if you have a little of it, maybe a kiddie-sized cone, the sugar in the ice cream cone won’t send you on quite the same sugar high and inevitable crash as the double cone you contemplate getting.
That discerning choice will allow you to have the kiddie cone and still get to the tasks you need to later on, without falling asleep because of a sugar crash. A wonderful story of discernment is about a monk looking out a window. He sees the sun shining, a slight breeze, and puffy white clouds. He exclaims, “This is going to be a great day: the flowers will benefit from the sun!” He grabs a light sweater and begins his walk to the garden for fresh vegetables. The next day he looks out the window and it is raining, a little cold, and a stiff breeze is coming from the north. He exclaims, “This is going to be a great day: the flowers will benefit from the rain!” The monk grabs his boots, coat, and umbrella for his walk to the garden. This monk’s story teaches three things: 1) weather is neither good nor bad; 2) don’t let the rain determine if you are going to have a great day; and 3) be prepared and don’t forget your umbrella.
All of life offers lessons and opportunities for growth. Allowing yourself the freedom to live without judgment, yet with a strong ability to discern what is best for your highest and most loving good, allows you to make choices throughout your day to create the best environment for growth. Using the Bell Meditation gives you the opportunity to stop living in autopilot mode, and allows you to take control of how you choose to participate in your environment.
After a while of practicing discernment, you will stop making limiting choices based on short-term thinking and begin to make choices that bring you into balance and are best for your long-term goals. Discernment doesn’t tell you that you can never have a double- scoop ice-cream cone. It simply helps you choose a time when the sugar crash won’t get in your way of accomplishing your soul’s goals — and it reminds you to bring the umbrella in case it rains!
Your soul knows that judgment is a waste of time, yet with discernment you can change what is not working in your life to create an environment around you that promotes the most soul growth. Judgment often creates an adverse vibrational state while discernment is neutral. Living a discerning life allows a more optimistic outlook. You are not living in fear of “bad” things happening as you realize that it is natural for life to present challenges. You stay open to whatever solutions are available rather than shutting down out of pessimism; you’ll feel optimistic, yet realistic, about what needs to be done. Discernment creates an opportunity for you to think about what you want in your life, how you want to act, what type of energy and vibrations you want around you, see situations and people as they truly are, and make choices that lead you closer to fulfilling your potential.
Your soul wants you to be able to discern the energy and vibrations that are not for your highest and loving good. One way to do that is by using the Blessing Meditation to send loving energy to anyone or any situation you encounter that might need a little extra vibratory boost.
Soul Soothers: Mini Meditations for Busy Lives is designed for those of us that only slow down when stuck in the grocery line! Soul Soothers is written so you can read the one page meditation and be out the door practicing your meditation all day! Now you can meditate when doing the dishes, walking from work to your car, listening to a dog barking, waiting at your doctor, sitting at your computer, and even taking your shower!
When you do have more time, each chapter also contains the “Why” aspect of meditation, including spiritual topics such as energy, breath, mindfulness, intuitive listening, Karma, and more. Whether your goal is stress reduction or spiritual development, “Soul Soothers” will bring peace to your frenzied life and you will achieve the benefits of meditation without the guilt and stress of taking time out of your already overloaded schedule.
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