Why do people meditate? Because of moments like this…
“Act as if this is your last moment, and act as if you are going to live forever.”
This is why people meditate. These are the words my dad spoke to me last Tuesday night as he laid in this hospital bed after a massive heart attack. I didn’t understand these two contradictory statements and asked him to explain.
“Act as if this is your last moment- stay calm, relaxed, attentive. Act as if you are going to live forever- put all of your energy and effort into the thing you are doing.”
This is why people meditate. If you’ve ever met my dad, he’s like a walking Buddha with a deep belly laugh that shakes the ground. He taught me how to meditate when I was 7 years old. I shared with him the concept of sthira sukha in yoga, the balance between effort and ease. Yoga teaches us to move through the world with strength and confidence (sthira) while remaining receptive and relaxed (sukha). He smiled and said, “yes, yes, same same.”
He was scheduled for a quadruple bypass the following morning. We talked for a while, and he was feeling scared, rightfully so. I looked at him and said, “Dad, act as if this is your last moment, and act as if you will live forever.”
He laughed his deep belly laugh that shook the hospital bed.
As unsettling as this event has been, it reminded me of the importance of why people meditate. It changes the way we show up in the world. Here are some simple practices you can do to embody what it means to be strong and relaxed at the same time.
Why do people meditate?
Here are 5 simple tips and benefits…
Breathing in meditation
Take a deep breath through your nose and hold your breath. Relax your body around the held breath. Then slowly release with control. Do that 10 times and feel the balance between effort (holding the breath) and ease (relaxing the body).
This technique will bring the nervous system into balance within minutes through the phrenic nerve.
How to sit in meditation
Sit tall in your seat with your spine erect. Relax the shoulders down the back, remove the tongue from the roof of your mouth and relax the eyes closed.
This allows you to physically embody strength and integrity (sthira) while keeping the mind at ease (sukha).
How to meditate when yoga’ing
While practicing yoga (or any exercise), hold a pose firmly grounded, feel strong in the muscle and bones of your body, then relax the skin around the body.
Similar to meditation, this allows you to physically embody strength and integrity (sthira) while keeping the mind at ease (sukha).
How meditation helps with speech
Mindfulness practice allows you to be confident in what you are saying while remaining fully receptive to the other person’s response. This is specifically useful in a disagreement or argument. State your position, but listen to the other person as if they know something you don’t.
Listening with curiosity allows you to learn more and see a different perspective that your current mind could not see.
How to meditate through behavior
Carve out some downtime in your workday to take care of yourself. Go for a walk around the block, sleep in one morning a week, or call a friend who brings out your deep belly laugh. Most of us put a lot of effort into our day but don’t take the time to enjoy the day.
The balance between effort and ease is a practice. I’m here to support you, and I love to hear from you. Please respond to this blog and let me know how this sits with you and how you personally practice sthira sukha. I’d love to share with my dad! 🙂