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Face Stress with a Meditative Mindset

and Find Joy Amid It All

When we have a super busy life, we may immediately react to the idea of meditation by perceiving it as just another thing we have to fit into an already packed schedule. Since meditation is a practice, the more we put into it, the more we get out of it. Every moment spent in quiet sitting meditation has always yielded many inexplicable jewels for me. I often say the more I meditate, the more time I have. My mind is quieter. I see more clearly. I act with greater insight and confidence. I get more done. I feel happier, more energized and more relaxed.

We can access the beauty and power of meditation when we are busily moving through our lives by developing what I call a meditative mindset. This means that no matter how busy our body may be, our mind rests in the essence of meditation. We cultivate a deeper and broader vantage point about who we are and what we are doing.

When we step into a meditative mindset when faced with a busy life, we gain a different point of view about ourselves, our lives and the world around us. We move beyond feeling identified and attached to life happening to us. In so doing, we loosen the grip of our ego, which clings to unhappiness and illusions of power that will never make us fulfilled. We see more space around each situation, emotion and thought, because we know that everything is contained within and a part of a much greater whole. We don’t take things so personally. We are less reactive. We respond to situations with greater clarity and calm.

With the bigger picture of a meditative mindset, we naturally relax because we have trust in a power far greater than our ego or will. We access the universal energy that is in constant flow in each moment. Our mind broadens. We have more insight into any challenges we may be facing. We see opportunities in problems. We feel confident in the outcome, however it may unfold.

A meditative mindset is different than wishful thinking or being disassociated with problems at hand. In wishful thinking, we are ungrounded and disconnected. We do not see any way forward, but just throw fortune to the wind and hope for the best. With a meditative mindset, we feel rooted, vital and expansive, because as we breathe in, we feel connected to the whole. As we breathe out, we feel loved and supported by the whole. We are fully present in each moment. Our life unfolds one breath at a time. And each event evolves around us with that kind of space and ease.

We cultivate this meditative mindset when we sit on our meditation cushion. But it is also what we can do as we cook our meals, wash our dishes, do the laundry, carpool children to and from events, get to business meetings, interact with family, friends and colleagues, deliver jobs on time… The meditative mindset brings our meditation practice to life and into the world.

I often feel like an octopus on set for a music video shoot, as I set up shots, check camera framing, direct actors, fix costumes, tighten choreography, check makeup, ensure lighting is correct and technical is functioning optimally. I am busy multitasking to take care of many production needs. Then, once that is all in place, I have to get in front of the camera and feel fresh and relaxed to deliver a great performance. My meditative mindset is the only way I know how to manage.

When in the face of many tasks and short timelines, I focus on resting in the bigger picture, while I access a flow and co-create with the universal energies that I know are always conspiring to support my greatest joy. The universe, after all, vibrates at the frequency of joy. For me, joy is a barometer for how connected I am. When I am stressed, feeling anxious or irritable, I have bought into feeling separate, and life happening to me. So I watch my emotions and the tension in my body, and acknowledge them as they begin to creep in. I understand that I don’t need to feel such, and that ultimately, they won’t help me reach my goals. I know that I operate better when I am in the meditative mindset and allow myself to be supported by the whole. So I do what I can to return to this bigger, more holistic picture of the moment, beyond the limited version as seen through the lens of my ego.

Next time you find yourself stressed and feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to completely stop what you are doing. Breathe in a few nice long deep breaths and see if you can feel part of a vast, intelligent universe. Allow the cells in your body to tingle with the in and out breaths. Let that vitality nourish you. As you breathe in and out, know that the universe is conspiring in this moment to help you realize your deepest joy. Know that everything in your life is moving out of deep compassion and love to help you live your deepest joy. It may not seem this way right now. But take a few more breaths and suspend disbelief and see if you can find that access point.

I remember a story from my teacher Amma who says we tend to curse the thorn that we step on as we run through a field, without understanding that the thorn saved us from running over a cliff we did not see. Everything in life has a purpose and supports us in some way. Be receptive to the grace that always is. Open more and more to this loving energy that is right here, right now. Allow yourself to feel supported in the way you need. You are love. You are loved. You are whole. You are the light that always is.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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