Summer is finally here and for many, that means getting outside for movement, play and social time. The last thing you may find yourself wanting to do is to sit still on your cushion in your usual meditation spot. Sunny skies beckon, and I know I’d rather be in the pool, at the park doing yoga, or napping with a warm summer breeze. Summertime brings on a whole host of challenges to maintaining a meditation practice. So how does one drag themselves to the meditation cushion when clearly there are so many enjoyable things we could be doing?
I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I do commit to loving the questions and exploring them with you. So I turned to my trusty cushion for a little bit of silence, hoping to find mind-blowing clarity to share with my community. Given CEC’s theme for the month of July is The Body, I decided to start with a body scan to help myself drop into meditation and connect to my body.
What I found was a busy mind, and a busy street, on a normally quiet morning, in a normally quiet neighbourhood. “Ok, start at the top of the head and work downwards, releasing tension as I go…” . And cue the drilling…no, not in my head, actual drilling from the house across the street. Ok, back to the scan, right. “Unfurrow the space between my eyebrows”...cue the birds. Have there always been so many?…OK, focus. “Moving onto the temples”…really? A fly buzzing around my head now? Stephanie, you are better than this…”Relax the jaw”…pounding bass music blasts from a car parking in front of my house. Where was I? Damn, my shoulders are really starting to ache now. Why am I doing this again? My back is killing me! Wait, we aren’t at the back yet, “back to the jaw, the throat”…
At this point I got a major kick to the upper abdomen from the inside. Oh yes, I’m 9 months pregnant! Thank you baby for that reminder. “Don’t worry, I’ll get to you too.” As incredible as it seems, in my meditation on the body, I managed to get so wrapped up in my head I forgot all about this approximately 6 lb human being moving and living inside me!
Eventually, I did manage to get some space from the distractions happening on the outside, and even the ones happening on the inside. Did the world suddenly go quiet? Definitely not. But the further I was able to drop into my body, the less they began to matter. The more concentrated attention I gave to my aching shoulders, the less conscious I became of their pain. Did I forget I was pregnant again after that first experience? No, I did not, as baby loves to move the more settled I get. However, I could experience those baby movements without getting pulled by them into a story of the future human my baby would become, into a plan to finally pack that hospital bag.
I love working with the body as a tool in meditation, but even as a yoga teacher I have days or weeks where it can be challenging to connect with my body as an object of focus. However, the more time I spend listening to my body, whether in stillness or movement, the less time I spend consumed by my own inner dialogue. It’s that simple benefit that keeps me coming back to meditation, even when the sun is shining and my third trimester body is calling for play or rest. So pull up a cushion and practice focusing on the body in stillness and movement, postures and play. There’ll be plenty of time after to hit the beach, I promise!