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When Life Ain’t Great, Meditate

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True confession: I am an “old school” Midwestern gal. I like my fish cooked, not raw. I believe that really cleaning a kitchen floor is a hands and knees job. And I was raised to “Buck Up” and “Grin and Bear It” when stress and troubles came into my life.


The thing is, I tend to be a real stressball. I can find something to worry about in a nap. But when a friend told me to try meditation to help deal with my tension, the downstate Illinois kicked in in my brain. My initial reaction was that meditation was for people who wear sandals in places other than the beach. That it was for people who liked the look of Rhoda’s apartment rather than Mary’s. So I resisted for years. And years. And years.


Finally my friend handed me a meditation CD, and pushed me into her spare room. “Try it for 15 minutes,” she said. “That’s all I ask.”


Well, it was incredible. It taught me about breathing, about how to tense and relax my muscles and limbs, and how visualizing could really help. I had no idea that I stored so much stress in my body. And that through the proper breathing pattern, could completely change my mood and outlook on life in just 15 minutes a day.


The tape I was given had a pretty basic structure. The first five minutes are dedicated to controlling my breathing. Inhale through the nose for two seconds, then exhale through the mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat. Think calm thoughts as you do it. The next five minutes is an exercise in tensing and relaxing muscles starting at the feet and moving to the forehead. And the final five minutes ask me to visualize a beautiful natural environment.


Over the years I have purchased several CDs, and while I like the variety, most follow this same basic pattern. Such simple advice, such an amazing change in how you feel, in just 15 minutes.


Now I begin my day with a tape (I bought several over time) when things get bad at work, I just use the basic lessons from the tapes to control how I feel and keep things in perspective. My favorite 15 minute meditation is item number one on my iPod.


I still believe a clean kitchen floor is a hands and knees job, but by having my mind opened to meditation, there has been a real transformation for me in how I feel, and how I look at life. If you’ve been resisting meditation, I beg you to give it a try. You can get a tape at any bookstore. Or borrow one from a serene friend. You really will be glad you did.

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