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How I Find Peace Within

peace withinThere are no absolutes for meditation. You do not have to sit in lotus position, nor do you have to light a candle; you don’t even have to close your eyes. Your meditation practice is as individualized as your physical workout and your daily eats.

Of course there are loads of practical recommendations: sit up straight, don’t meditate while sitting in bed (this too often invites sleep) and don’t judge the experience.

I’m no guru, and it will be years (if ever) before I achieve a higher level of consciousness, but through a bit of trial and error I have stumbled upon an approach that works for me.

Here’s how I get my own zen on.

Five seconds after I wake up, my monkey brain is hard at it, racing through my to-do list. I grab a cup of coffee, check e-mails and jot down some notes or journal any random thoughts. Only after I have freed myself from these immediate distractions do I go and meditate.

My morning ritual continues. I light a candle and a stick of incense (always in that order). The purpose of this little ceremony is to let my brain know that my practice is about to begin; repetition creates habit.

I focus on the breath. Not a laser focus, but simple awareness. If a car horn honks outside, I still hear it, but my attention remains intact. (At least in theory, although it doesn’t always work that way.)

A stopwatch keeps me honest. If after five minutes I’m particularly distracted, I’ll stretch and settle in again. After 15 or 20 minutes, it’s over.

I like to end my practice with a mental list of five things I am grateful for. Why five? One for each of the decorative oranges I have on display. Silly, but it signals the meditation has come to an end; plus, it’s a nice way to start the day.

As you can see, my meditation practice is none too mystical, but, hey. it works for me. My unsolicited advice for anyone attempting to begin a practice is this: mix it up. For a week try meditating upon awakening; if that doesn’t feel right, practice your meditation after you shower or when you first get home from work. Keep trying until you find the method that works for you — it’s worth it!

Have you found your meditation groove? On second thought, I guess there is one absolute. You have to do it every day! —Karen

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