When I first started meditation it was to help calm my overactive mind. I heard that it would help. My mind had the ability to think a thousand thoughts, ideas and possibilities all at once. I would be sitting in a conversation and be focused on the next thing I would say and not on the conversation itself. I looked at that version of me with a sense of pride. I convinced myself that I was an effective multitasker. However, all those thoughts were really making me more anxious and stressed Then I would do my best to handle the symptoms and not the root cause.
As I began to dedicate five minutes each morning to sitting quietly with my mind a lot of things happened. First I didn’t think that mediation was really for me. I couldn’t slow down my mind enough to actually be able to hear the thoughts. It sounded loud in my head and a lot of rambling. I tried using a mantra, which worked out to help focus my head on a single thought. Then one day I felt it. Quiet. It was a brief moment but in that split second I felt the connection of my entire body with my silenced mind. Then my head made commentary that I finally achieved what I had been spending weeks to reach.
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” – Norman Schwarzkopf
But that moment was a turning point. I could actually feel that I was not just listening to the silence, but that silence was me. I could listen to my heart. And only because I am a Type-A and need to get to the solution as quickly as possible I used that moment of silence to start asking questions to the things I needed answers to. This isn’t exclusive to my morning meditation, I can now silence my mind for a few minutes during the day when I have to make critical decisions. I close my eyes, take a couple of breaths and internally ask my questions and receive my answer. However, it is important to note that almost all decisions do not need answers immediately. Those are self-imposed time limits. If you take a little bit of extra time you will know for sure what the correct response is.
1. Close Your Eyes, Concentrate On Your Breath
This is the first step in any meditation. Count to five for each inhalation and exhale. Pay attention to the rhythm of your lungs during the in and out breath. For me imagining that if I was without a body the one sensation I would miss the most would be the feeling of filling my lungs up with air.
2. Use A Mantra To Silence The Mind
I have used several different mantras from various texts, including my current reading A Course In Miracles. However, a mantra can be as simple as a line from a poem, a sound, or my personal go-to “maximum clarity for maximum pleasure, please”.
3. Ask The Question
Once the mind is silenced, check for a connection to the heart. Concentrate on your hearts and you will know when you are ready. Then ask your question. Do not ask a series of questions when starting out because your head will try to answer over your heart. Only ask the question that is pressing on your mind. Ask it and wait for the answer. Sometimes it will be immediate, sometimes it will be slow. As you practice being in tune with your heart answers will start to move from faint to clearer.
4. Trust and Believe The Answer
This is the most important step. You will get an answer. You may not like it, but it’s coming from your heart. When your heart and head aren’t aligned you may doubt your answer and then try to force a different response. If you are going to do this, then don’t ask the question. Sometimes the answers are not directly related to the questions. I have asked, “when would be the right time to date again?” and my answer was, “focus on my writing”. It does not answer me in the most direct way, but it does tell me that my focus should not be on dating until my current projects are complete.
5. Ask Another Day
Especially in the beginning it can be hard to trust this process since it is so new. Take a day and ask the question again. If you are in tune with your heart you will get the same answer, however, be cautious about forcing the answer that you really want to hear and not the one that your heart believes to be best for you. In the event, the answer does change you can question the process with something like, “was that my heart that gave me that answer?” or “what has changed between yesterday and today?”
6. Big Decisions Deserve Time
Most decisions do not need to be resolved immediately. They deserve the proper time and may require you to sleep on it. They deserve concentration and time to ensure the decision is right for you and those around you.
How do you deal with big decisions? What was the last big decision you had to make?
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