Next time you go for a walk around the park, take a tennis ball with you. Use the tennis ball to focus your mind to the present. If you are like me, I end up brooding about problems or life-challenges when I go on walks. In some cases, I actually find solutions to some of my problems. In other cases, I just increase my anxiety levels.
When you have a tennis ball in your hand, you can bounce it off your path and watch its path as it goes down. Listen to the thump as the ball hits the ground and catch it as it comes up. Feel the texture of the ball as you prepare to bounce it again. This very simple process grounds you to the present moment. The activity is similar to that of monks and saints who use prayer beads and a mantra to focus in the present.
This simple activity - it engages your sense of sight, sound and feeling - has a tremendous relaxing effect in your mind and body. Every time, your mind is diverted to your pressing problems and challenges, this ball draws your attention to the present. In addition to the feeling of relaxation this active play provides, you may also find creative solutions to your life's challenges.
Try it and let me know how it works for you! And special thanks to my friend Barry for this idea!
Standard Disclaimer - Always be of mindful of others and traffic around. This exercise is done best in relatively empty streets or in a park.
When I started out in the meditation journey about 15 years ago, I was an atheist/agnostic. Similar to today, many of the meditation practices were sponsored by religious organizations. While these organizations claim to focus on the spiritual aspects of the practice, many of the traditions and rituals are associated with that of organized religion (my opinion). I focus (no pun intended) on non-religious techniques that rely on breath awareness, visualization and feelings of love. These techniques are very easy for beginners to understand and learn. Also, the "religious" baggage that come with some of the "spiritual" meditation techniques are avoided.
My brother calls me a "Born Again" Hindu as I re-embraced religion of my birth after many years of being an atheist/agnostic. Since then, I had many spiritual experiences (some people say that it is related to my meditation practice). I do go to Indian temples regularly but my spiritual experiences have manifested themselves during nature walks, visits to churches and jewish temples also. I am driven to keep these spiritual experiences out of my meditation classes - because I believe that each person has a unique experience with meditation and I want them to respect that.
At the same time, I respect people who use meditation primarily as an extension of their religious or spiritual practice to know more about themselves and connect to a higher source of power - God, Allah or whatever they may choose to call it.
Two books that have influenced my meditation practice and classes are:
Breakout Principle by Dr. Herbert Benson (famous for his Relaxation Response theory) develops the scientific basis for meditation and relaxation techniques and its impact on the quality of our lives.
Open Focus Brain by Dr Les Fehmi is another work that has impressed me in its scientific and effective approach in dealing with stress and focus in our lives.
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.