Life in the fast lane…remember that idea? Life now is the fast lane. Those that can’t cope are parked by the side of the road. With adults out of the house and working at least one job and children involved with either school-related activities or sports, most of us are on the go for most of the hours we are awake. It seems that it takes a war or a major act of terrorism to slow us down and get us to pause and reflect on our lives.
Multi-tasking has become second-nature. Talking on the phone while driving a car and eating a sandwich has become a commonplace juggling event. You may actually be too busy to notice the stress you’ve been under…or maybe there’s just no place left in your mind to think about it with everything else that’s on your mind: who gets picked up where, when; how can I afford a new car; am I going to get that job; why do I have such a headache?
Well, you may be thinking, how can I change all that? After all, it’s my life. I need the two jobs; the kids are already part of the soccer team…what am I supposed to do?
You may not be able to escape that life, you may not even want to, but you can certainly create a space within that life where you can, for a while at least, find a place of peace and balance within yourself. It’s like creating quality time for YOU and that’s not only important, it’s essential. When flying, you hear flight attendants caution the passengers, that in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, if they are responsible for someone else with whom they are flying, they need to put the oxygen mask on themselves first! In other words, if you don’t give yourself peace and balance you’ll have precious little to share with anyone else.
One of my associates, a good friend and a Feng Shui consultant, realizing her need for a peaceful place created a meditation space out of a small closet! That’s a great idea if you have an extra closet, but most of us need an extra closet as an extra closet! You can actually create a peaceful place right in your own living room or bedroom by following a few simple tenets.
For most of us our eyes are our most obvious source of sensory input. That visual impact goes right to the brain, activating a response to our environment in the form of conscious and unconscious thoughts. It stands to reason that the fewer things there are in a space for the eyes to rest upon, the less your mind, (conscious and subconscious), will be activated. You will generate fewer thoughts in response to fewer things.
But, you may say, I can just shut my eyes and all the outside influence will disappear. The fact is, you’ve already seen it. It’s just too late. Not only that, but closing your eyes takes you deeper inside your self and unless you’ve already created a very peaceful space in there what you’re apt to connect with is a lot of mind chatter. So the ideal peaceful space will provide you with one beautiful or intriguing point of interest, allowing your mind to channel its thinking tendencies on just one place, consciously limiting your consciousness. In a sense, you are tricking your subconscious mind to experience the Now Moment as one of pure perfection.
If you are fortunate enough to have beautiful scenery outside your window, (even one good tree will do!), you can simply set your chair to face right out the window. If that option is not available, the same gentle, natural living energy can be gained observing fish in a bowl or aquarium or by gazing into the flame of a lit candle. But it needn’t be nature to bring your mind into a state of relaxed focus; technology does nicely. In a city apartment a lava lamp or glitter lamp does a great job of allowing one to go temporarily mindless.
The next thing to tend to is how the body feels. You can be at peace either being or doing but, since what we are speaking of here is creating a space for an enhanced state of being, we must address how the body will be supported in that place. Peace is a state of alert relaxation, the mind clear or perfectly and gently focused outside of itself. Physical discomfort will distract from mental clarity. The body inherently desires comfort. What you want in your peaceful space is not so much comfort that you fall asleep, (that might be peaceful but its not exactly you experiencing peace), but enough that you can maintain a relaxed, comfortable position for a short while. Zen meditation cushions are great for floor sitters like myself while those preferring a bit of height might find a lightly cushioned armchair perfectly suits their needs.
Whatever your seating choice, your eyes should line up easily and effortlessly with the object of your attention. Whatever your focal point is, you need to be in easy relationship to it. Straining your neck or your eyes undoes the peaceful body. If you are inclined, soft music in the background will provide a perfect foil for ambient sounds allowing your focus to be limited to the space you occupy. Ocean or brook sounds or indoor "rain chimes" can provide the perfect white noise to mask distractions.
It doesn’t take much to begin cultivating a peaceful mind. If you spend only a few minutes each day in a quiet, focused space, you will find that, just as you crave a favourite food, you begin to crave the experience of peace. Your mind, in those few quiet moments, will prosper and you may find that, in the middle of a busy day, in your car at a stoplight, or in line at the store you can simply recall being in your peaceful spot and calm will be restored to your mind. That may be the beginning for you, of the ramp that gets you off the expressway and onto a country road, no matter where you are.
Rhea Stephens is an insightful practitioner and leads the way to a new paradigm in personal and business counselling through the use of innovative Feng Shui techniques. With her intuitive observations, she is able to transform an environment and the lives of all those who live in it.