As we’ve now entered the Summer Solstice, we are called to honor the new season by slowing down and reflecting. There are many ways to pause, to slow down, and to reflect. Meditation is one of those ways. And truly it is one of my personal favorites.
There are many misconceptions of meditation, many common misunderstandings, which often prevent people from giving it a try. At its core, meditation is all about pausing. Stopping and breathing. Being in the moment. And while we try to minimize the thoughts we have during meditation, it is not about stopping all thoughts from occurring. The quieting of the mind, the slowing down of the mind, is the goal – not the ceasing of all thoughts. And it is when the mind becomes a little more quiet than usual that we often can experience a period of reflection during our meditation.
So, let’s try a very simple meditation for a few moments. Find a quiet place to sit. Somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Sit comfortably in an upright position, with hands resting in your lap (in a mudra of your choice if you wish). Gently close your eyes and allow your breath to flow naturally. Relax your shoulders, your jaw, and your fingers and toes. Feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe in and out.
Spend a few minutes with the breath – breathing in for a count of four, pausing at the top of the inhale for one second, then exhale for a count of four and pause at the end of the exhale for one second. Repeat this for two to three minutes. (No need to set a timer for this, just complete this breath pattern for about 12-15 rounds or until it feels complete for you.) Allow your body to relax into the breath. If you lose count of your inhale or exhale, simply start again on your next inhale.
Then allow your breath to go back to its normal, natural rhythm. Sit with the breath, allowing thoughts to come and go as they may, coming back to the focus on the breath when you notice it has drifted. You can sit for 5 minutes or more – it really is up to you. Personally, I like sitting for 15-20 minutes, but find what works for you. And notice as you are siting with your breath what comes up for you. What reflections creep in. We want to be careful to let them, like all thoughts, come and go in our meditation. We don’t want to dwell or ruminate on them. We simply notice them and go back to the breath.
After the meditation is over, take some time to notice those things that came up for you. Allow for a few minutes to reflect on your meditation. You can even journal a bit in order to capture your reflections on paper before continuing with your day.
I’ll leave you with one final thought for this meditation for reflection – since we are in the month of June and awaiting the arrival of the Summer Solstice, why not go outside for your meditation? Sit on the grass (a little grounding) and breathe in the summer air, feeling the sun on your skin (don’t forget to wear your sunscreen though). What a great way to celebrate the coming of Summer while taking some time out for yourself to pause and reflect.