Turning Ordinary Routines into Meditative Rituals
There is an important window of regular meditation required to establish the system shifts and cultivate the physiological, mental and emotional benefits that meditation offers. For many, engaging themselves in group meditation practice and defined lessons makes it seem much easier to maintain a regular practice and stay connected with their spiritual selves. While it’s true that there is an amplified effect of practicing and inner exploring within a safe and equally spirit-led community, there are times where maintaining regular practice in a group setting isn’t always an option. Take, for instance, when you go on vacation.
If you worry about not being able to get on your mat during a vacation in between the summertime catch-ups, travelling, family meals, essential rest and the usual fun and games that come with the season, then take heart, because with the right perspective and spiritual awareness, everything you experience during your time away from home can be transformed into a meditative ritual.
Read on as Reiki Master and Meditation Teacher, Dani van de Velde, covers some sure-fire ways to be one with your spirituality and convert your mundane, summer vacations into divine, magical experiences for you and your family!
Disrupt your patterns
We are so ‘scheduled’ in our ordinary lives, by work, commitments, school and family activities, that pace and dissipation results in a continual state of non-presence. Ironically, we are so busy doing life, that we miss it; the beauty within it, the conscious engagement with it, and importantly we also miss time to ponder. Formal meditation is a proven and wonderful way to gain mastery over our mental plane and draw into presence. It’s a pattern interrupter. But there are lots of ways we can disrupt the pattern of non-presence when we’re in holiday mode and unable to carve out time for formal meditation practice.
Here are some of Dani’s tried and true methods:
Create a habit of snapping your attention back into whatever it is you are doing in any one moment. You can do this by using an inner statement. When you sit to have that first divine cup of coffee in the morning, say to yourself: “I am enjoying this cup of coffee right now. That is all”. Extend this to nearly everything. “I am riding my bike right now. That is all.”, “I am snuffling my daughter’s neck right now. That is all.”, “I am breathing in salty ocean air right now. That is all.”.
As simple as this sounds, it can have incredible effects on your system. Firstly, you start to bank the present moment. You give yourself permission to be here now and simply experience whatever it is that you’re engaged in. If you have been inhabiting robot-mode for some time, you can feel a visceral release of your system with this permission. The more you practice Presence Snapping, the more you exercise the part of your brain that is responsible for concentration, exactly the same neurological response achieved in regular meditation. It opens more and more moments of simple present enjoyment. You plug back in, and with that plug-in comes access to greater sensory pleasure, reduced stress response, physical regeneration and you attune to your finer intuitive senses.
Holidays can bring stress: old familial issues, travel and timing stress are a few examples. If you live away from home-base, sometimes returning home for a short spell is the most stressful time of the year. Trying to spread your time across family members and friends, people getting annoyed at not being able to see you, the constant feeling that you’re not getting any time for yourself and immediate family and overeating because everyone wants to meet over a meal. Those holidays where you are trying to keep everyone happy can be fraught and can be robbed of the experience, joy, potential and happy memory. An easy way to disrupt this holiday pattern is to use your body to hack the mental/emotional plain. Our senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch are powerful pattern-disruptors.
Taking moments in the day to scan what stimulation is coming in through the senses can also help enormously in Presence Snapping and cultivating appreciation for the blessings of friends and family, rather than the frustration of the stretch. Take regular pause points through the day to feast on your senses. Stop, gather and slow-down that bite into that strawberry. Step outside in the early morning and lean into the soundscape of wherever you are. Gauge the local information within the air that your breathing. Spend a moment with your sleeping child and trace your finger along the outline of their face as they dream. Wherever possible interrupt your sensory engagement windows. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, make love when you’re buzzing, not when you ‘should’ or when the day allows it. Make your senses the schedule directors!
Try to eat by colour. Take it in turns with your family members to pick the day’s colour and then just eat foods of that colour. It can mean some pretty weird meals of egg, cauliflower, mashed potato on white days, and oranges, carrots, capsicum, pumpkin and turmeric juice on orange days, but it works.
If you’re bold enough, create fun traditions. A tradition Dani has is one with her daughter, where they dye a stripe of their hair some mad colour like bright purple or blue on the first day of the holidays, affectionately known as Crazy Holiday Hair.
Get your kids involved in creating a holiday Spotify list of all your favourite tunes with each member responsible for the soundtrack of different days. It’s a wonderful way to get updated on the latest artists and to also tune into what it is everyone is listening to through their Airpods. If you’re not sharing your home with any little hipsters, there is no better way to Pattern Disrupt than cranking your favourite music and letting those moves rip (especially when just your cat is watching)! Again, this seems so simple, but the conscious choice to do it pierces the veil of the mundane and opens a veritable sensory feast that diffuses any mental or emotional tail-spinning.
Upside Down Days
A fun and fabulous pattern disrupter that kids, in particular, will enjoy are Upside Down Days. It involves a deliberate inversion of typical routines, making it a great way to break from the school term, exam stress and working schedule. Wear PJs in the day and get dressed for bed. Eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Ask everyone how each others’ days were in the morning and check what everyone has planned at night. Get out and walk at night and mooch at home during the day (a good thing as you’ll all be in your PJs). Run towards a rainstorm and get drenched, and float in the sea at night. It’s simple, free and has a wickedness about it that can shift you all into laughter and possibility.
Simple, effective and fun. Give these pattern disrupters a try for yourself and your family and plug back into the real game of having a wonderful summer with family, friends and yourself. Tiny acts of rebellion do wonders for the spirit!
This article was adapted from Dani's original article.
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Featured Contributor Bio: Dani van de Velde
Dani Van de Velde is the founder and principal teacher of The Meditation Teacher in Singapore. She is a qualified meditation teacher with over twenty years of personal practice, over fifteen years of teaching experience, and is an Usui Reiki Master. Dani helps others understand and master the art of meditation, inner practice and healing through private coaching, energy sessions and courses and tailored programs for schools and organisations. She is also a popular speaker at networking forums and workshops, a writer and holds regular spiritual guidance sessions and retreats in Asia and Australia. Dani is a member of the Meditation Association of Australia and the International Meditation Teachers Association, recognising the standard of her teaching and program development. Dani’s teaching is experiential. She draws from techniques and wisdom of numerous world traditions, current research in neurology and cellular biology, and her own experience. Her focus is on enabling others to understand and work with the design and function of their mind/body/energy system, to engage in transformative inner practice for self-healing and intuitive living.