“The moments we enjoy most as they unfold, and that we treasure long afterward, are the ones we experience most deeply. Depth roots us in the world, gives life substance and wholeness. It enriches our work, our relationships, everything we do. It’s the essential ingredient of a good life and one of the qualities we admire most in others.”
Looking back, 2012 was filled with many changes and activities for me. I am thankful to my friends and family for getting me though a year of crazy changes. But, there is one thing that I stuck to and religiously practiced every day during this busy period – morning meditation, that is. I have made this into a daily habit and have done it the last several years.
My morning meditation consists of 20 minutes. Why 20 minutes? It’s the shortest time possible for me to get into the flow of my breath and reach an emptiness in mind and body.
But this short window of 20 minutes has not been easy to create in the busy mornings. It actually requires a lot more discipline than you can ever imagine. With 20 minutes in the morning, for example, you could enjoy breakfast at home or catch an earlier train to work. That 20 minutes in the morning can be very valuable.
After getting into my sitting position, my mind goes wild as I begin my meditation. A string of thoughts come to my mind randomly, such as “What do I wear today for work?” or “What is my schedule like today?” or “Who will I meet today?” or “I am getting hungry.” What amazes me most still after several years’ practice is just how much noise is generated by these small thoughts and how loud the noise can be.
I have stuck to it because I have seen the great benefits of morning meditation. One is that I can turn off such noise or have more control over these mental “chatters” during meditation and throughout the day. At least I am able to catch myself going into a series of thoughts that are not relevant to what I am doing – “Hey, look, you are crossing a street now, so STOP thinking about what Lisa said to me yesterday!” It took me a long time to come to this realization, and I was simply amazed at how my mind could become filled with such random, cluttering thoughts.
This realization led me to look into my life very closely. Do I really appreciate each experience in life or do I go through the motions for some things? Do I find a joy in the simple, everyday things in life? Do I have too much clutter in life that prevents me from focusing on the important things? Am I really happy?
Through this journey, I realized that I wasted so much time, energy and money on things and people that were not giving me the greatest joy. It is hard to streamline your life and cut out the excess, but you would be pleasantly surprised at the space and freedom you would be able to access instead.
The new year brings out a strong desire to make changes in your life. It’s a fresh start and time of reinvention or renewal for ourselves. So why don’t we set a goal to simplify life and find the joy in the simple and more meaningful things in life? How can we simplify our life and create space to breathe?
Here are five things I have learned and now practice.
1. Focus on the present moment: Be aware of what you are doing right NOW.
2. List what gives you the most joy: List 10 people or activities that give you the biggest joy in life, and prioritize them in 2013.
3. Say “no” more often and more firmly: Know your value and be firm in saying “no” if the requests or offers don’t meet your priorities.
4. Be in the balance: As Pema Chödrön says, “Not too tight, not too loose.” Gain a good balance by being aware of your feelings.
5. Edit life: The website Life Edited suggests getting rid of clutter. Clear your space and clear your mind. This will give you more space and freedom. If you are interested in learning about “Life Edited”, check out below video clip of TED Talk by Graham Hill, a founder of the website.
Have a wonderful 2013, and celebrate the simplicity of life!