Life Is A Moving Meditation | The 6 R's of Meditation
Several years ago I was lucky enough to learn the 6’s R’s of mediation from a Buddhist meditation practitioner. He had experienced burnout in the corporate sector and meditation helped to transform his life. While meditation certainly has many health benefits, it is very difficult with our busy lifestyles, to find quality time to do it. What I have discovered, is that you don’t necessarily need to sit quietly in order to meditate.
I invite you to consider your life as a living, moving meditation. What you give your attention to grows, gets stronger and strengthens. You’ve probably experienced getting angrier when you think about something that makes you angry. When you spend time exercising you feel better than when you skip it. Studying for your classes improves your ability to learn and remember new information as opposed to focusing your attention on something else. I want to be careful to say, that I’m not suggesting that you suppress anger or any other “negative” emotion and I will provide some insight about what you might try instead so that you don’t default to anger or if you do, you have some options!
First, the 6 R’s of mediation. When you are learning to meditate, you have an object of focus. That could be your breath, a mantra or a visualization. At some point, as you practice, your attention goes somewhere else, to a sensation, a thought or story, a sound, etc. The mind will get distracted because that is the nature of our mind. So then when you notice the distracted thoughts happening you have to bring your attention back to the object of the meditation. This is where people can get really hard on themselves. You might say to yourself, “I suck,” or “this is impossible” or “I’m so dumb/stupid/incompetent/worthless/etc”. You don’t suck though. Your mind is a trickster and will try to distract you constantly. Now that you know that about your mind, you can laugh at it when you notice. “Oh you trickster mind, you! Trying to distract me again! Lol”. Let’s look at how it works in steps:
6’R’s of meditation are recognize, release, relax, re smile, return, repeat
Recognize: (to notice; observe) Notice what you have become distracted by.
Release: (distractions/content) Don’t give the distraction/content more attention.
Relax: allow the pain/tension/content of the distraction to be there without judgement or analysis.
Re Smile: show yourself compassion (you are human); stay alert, observant, agile. Smiling to ourselves creates a physiological response that strengthens compassion.
Return/ReDirect: redirect attention back to object of mediation.
Repeat: to learn and practice this sequence, I found a seated meditation helpful because external distractions are limited and it becomes goal focused – you are learning a new skill that needs to become practiced and eventually automatic.
As you practice, notice when you are suppressing something (like a neg emotion) – it needs to be processed, allow it to be a part of your experience so it doesn’t maintain such a strong hold on you. For example, if you start to feel overwhelmed and a desire to cry arises, don’t try to stifle the tears, let them flow until they are done.
In order to apply this skill into our living meditation of our daily lives, I invite you (or challenge you) to practice this in a seated meditation. You choose how long you spend on it. Five minutes may be an appropriate starting time if this is new. If you already have a meditation practice, perhaps 10, 20 or 30 minutes will feel appropriate.
Applying the 6 R’s of mediation off the mat:
If there is an emotion or thought that creates a lof of discomfort for you – let it become the “object of your living meditation” – it’s NOT that you will focus on it MORE, but you are AWARE that it arises often. When the emotion or thought arises for you, apply the 6 R’s. (1)Notice that the thought has started to take over your mind; (2) choose to not give it more attention, (3) take a few breaths or do a few stretches; (4) choose an opposite emotion or opposite thought to focus on to break the cycle of the one that causes discomfort. If/when you notice it returning, (5) re-smile, (6) redirect your mind back to the opposite thought/feeling. This may occur over a matter of seconds or minutes anywhere you are. The most important thing is that you notice the unwanted thought/feeling is happening and you make the conscious choice to change it. Grow and strengthen the thoughts/feelings you do want to have.
Try it out for the next few weeks and let me know how it goes!
Stay tuned for more on how we can develop mindfulness as a lifestyle and not just a meditation practice.