Thursday, March 6, 2014

Keep it Simple Stupid

I almost picked a blander name for this post (I think working with kids has made me a little overly sensitive) until I remembered that the phrase "Keep it simple stupid" originated from the US Navy, of which my Granddaddy was a Captain.  So yogic or not yogic, nice or not nice - whatever.  Today I just want to write about a very, very, very, very simple meditation principle.  (Also, according to Wikipedia, there should be no comma/implication that the person to whom you're speaking.  Although I think we can all agree we tend to use the comma and the implication these days...)

I didn't write last week, and for good reason.  I normally write on Thursday, my usual day off, but last week I spent Wednesday night through Sunday in Malvern, PA with my beloved hubby who made his fabulous debut as Mr. Darcy in People's Light and Theatre Company's excellent production of Pride and Prejudice.  It was a glorious four days of resting my foot, reading a phenomenal book, watching the show, making friends with the cast, and of course, soaking up every single second with Marc that I possibly could.

On Saturday, we ventured out of the theatre complex for brunch and to replenish our wine supply.  (I swear this is leading to meditation)  At the local liquor store - and by the way, alcohol is so much cheaper there! - we happened to run into the People's Light's Artistic Director, Abigail Adams.  Marc had told me about Abigail and really likes her a lot, so we chatted as we waited in the checkout line.  The topic somehow turned to yoga and meditation, and we asked her what meditation technique she practices.

With the laid back air of someone who has been practicing many moons longer than I have, she simply said, "Just follow the breath.  In and out."

That was it.  That's all she said, and I'm embarrassed to say it was a bit of a revelation.

I certainly teach this technique, and I practice it a little bit, but I also love exploring so much, and I'm always searching for "my" perfect mantra or visualization or crazy combination of whatever I can grasp at, that I so rarely just focus on my breath when I sit.  I'm always afraid it's not going to be compelling enough for me to keep myself from traveling down the road of my bazillion thoughts, or that it'll cause me to breathe in a stilted, artificial way.  In my early days of meditating, that always happened to me, so I sort of abandoned this most simple technique.

When I got into my morning routine on Monday, I decided to give it a try.  Lo and's really, really nice.  So simple, so focused.  It's brilliant if you're someone just getting into meditation, but some people - like me - might need something a little shinier to keep their interest, like a mantra.  Or like literally imagining something shiny.  If you're a practiced meditator or someone who is feeling at loose ends with what technique to latch on to, strip everything else away and give this bare-bones, simple technique another look.

My last little bit of advice is something I've been told a couple of times and so often forget to do, but now I'm making it mandatory - always keep some paper and a pen next to you when meditating.  So often I'll be nice and relaxed and then immediately remember something work related I have to do or tell someone.  Or I'll have some kind of brilliant idea I want to remember.

For instance, my sister and I are in an ongoing discussion about possible baby names for her twins (a boy and a girl!!!) and I've had a couple of ideas come to me while in meditation.  Instead of spending the rest of the 5 minutes I have left trying to make sure I don't forget the name, I just write it down.  Hence - hit the mental pause button, write it down, and come back to the breath.

So there we go.  Follow the breath, keep a notepad near by so all your genius gets recorded for when you come out of it.  Keep it simple - or as we'd say in kids yoga, "Easy peasy lemon-squeeze-y."

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