Thursday, September 1, 2016

Modern Meditation Techniques

For several days, I've had the music and lyrics from the ancient canon "Dona Nobis Pacem" in my head.  Our church choir sang it as the offertory on Sunday, so my spouse spent time practicing by watching this video.  And now, the music is stuck in my head.

There are worse things.  It's very calming music, and the lyric translates to "Grant us peace."   I've been thinking about other things one might do to calm one's anxiety, simple things that don't require medication.

Once I thought that essential oils might provide some soothing, so on Friday night, when I felt anxious for reasons I no longer remember, I looked to see what I had left over from our summer of candle making last year.  Citronella--hm, essential these days in Zika infested South Florida, but probably not soothing.  Likewise lemongrass.  So, I put some of the rosemary oil on a paper towel and waited for calm to descend.

Instead, I got annoyed by the smell.  Clearly that's not the way to calm for me.

On Sunday night, we worked on finger picking techniques with the monthly meeting of my ukulele group.  My favorite was to pluck the top string of the ukulele, then the lowest string, and then the two inner strings.  As we practiced, I noticed that I felt immediately calmer.  Let me remember this too.

The ukulele technique works because I have something for my hands to do; it's similar to crocheting or knitting, which I've also been doing for a variety of reasons.

Traditionalists would tell me to pray, and I do.  But as with many meditation techniques, like clearing my mind, prayer is not enough to shut down the chatter of my brain, what Buddhists would call the monkey mind.

I've always practiced journaling and other kinds of writing as a calming technique--some people say that writing without stopping is a good meditation technique for Western minds, and I agree.  But I am often in my office or other spaces that feel too public to write.  If I write, I might cry, and people freak out when they see administrators crying.

But I can hum "Dona Nobis Pacem" as I move throughout my administrator day.  And it works--I immediately feel more serene.

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