Years ago, I learned about meditation from my former sister-in-law. I remember vividly doing a guided meditation listening to a CD by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I happened to be eight months pregnant with my second baby. I counted the times the baby kicked inside while breathing deeply and chanting. I did this practice every morning for about 30 days. Then I birthed my son. The busy life of parenting a toddler and a newborn became my focus. Yet the seed had been planted. I never forgot how good I felt after meditating.
A week after my son began kindergarten and my daughter started 3rd grade, I joined a yoga class. The teacher ended each session with the savasana pose. Her gentle voice guided us. She invited us to unfurl our forehead and let our skin become like a soft blanket. She encouraged our bones to drop to the floor and even our scalps to relax. I discovered places in my body that I do not believe I had ever consciously softened in my entire life. There is nothing quite like conscious breathing inside a relaxed body.
Our yoga teacher often shared how this pose could be experienced as one of the most difficult because the body tends to clutch, resist yielding and avoid complete relaxation. There is emotional vulnerability; there is body vulnerability. I relate to savasana as body vulnerability and a posture in which one can feel their heart beating even as the mind slowly begins to become quiet.
I also did Tai Chi with my then-husband almost every morning for over a decade. Before we had our two children, he taught me the short form. Tai Chi reminded me of dancing. My body quickly learned the movements, the flow. I regularly concentrated on my breathing and the different postures with their lovely names, yet I often got distracted by the many thoughts in my mind. He called Tai Chi a moving meditation. My experience was more like a dance recital with “Wave Thoughts Like Flames” and “Tiger Growls at Mountain” in front of a distracted audience.
The unraveling of the marriage had begun years before it finally ruptured. Like the frog in the water ever so slowly being heated up, I swam around pretending the air above the pot had not fundamentally altered and that the burner had not been turned on.
I joined a Meditate Activate Integrate class facilitated by a cherished friend. The participants and I practiced different meditation styles, movements, and joyous creative crafting. Each session focused on an inspiring message. I loved this class! This same beloved friend told me about her challenge of choosing to meditate daily for 40 days. I felt excited for her, not fully realizing she had planted a seed of an idea for my life.
While one part of me grabbed desperately to thin wisps of hope that the marriage could be saved, I noticed another part of me felt the insurmountable accumulation of hurts and secret, silent withholds. I realized I needed to anchor myself in meaningful self-care.
With this cauldron brewing eight years ago, I chose a 40-day challenge that included daily meditation, movement, and a break from the news. Those 40 days have become 2,920 days and counting. Placing myself in legs over the chair pose with a fluffy blanket over my body, I close my eyes and consciously breathe with a mantra. I often enter a state of blissful, dark, quiet. The benefits of my way of meditating continue to ripple.
Currently, I sleep more peacefully at night. I awake energized for the day and with expanded conscious presence during the tasks I get to do. I smile and laugh frequently. I have weepy days. In rare moments, I experience a flash of frustration. I quickly notice this energy. I look at the thoughts that got my panties in a wad and then ask myself: “Is this true?” “Are you certain?” as a process to dismantle what are usually limiting beliefs.
I experience myself more as a channel, a bridge between love and creative expressions, compassion-imbued responses to life. I listen from my heart in most moments. I feel an inner fulfillment, an abundance of peace, immense love, and gratitude overflowing. This energy seems to bubble out naturally in conversations with beloved ones and with my Sweet Love. I never ever knew I could experience this place of grace. I am unrecognizable to the woman I was and ever so grateful for her courage, dedicated commitment, and faith.
Sometimes you get to dabble in experiences or percolate with ideas until you realize those ideas must merge with actions. Experiences can then become the practices that form the foundation of your life. Like food for the body, spiritual practices can fuel the evolution of your soul and transform your experience of being alive.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.