1. Schedule a date with yourself
Set aside 10-20 minutes, five or six days a week, for yourself. Consider this appointment as your most critical one and change it only in a dire emergency. Write it in your datebook. Be careful, though, not to choose the most difficult time for yourself. Setting yourself up to miss this most important appointment will only lead to discouragement and delay. One day at a time decide that you are the most important date on your calendar.
Taking the time for your self is life affirming. It will teach you that anything is possible if you continue the practice. This is just the beginning.
2. Trust in the process
Whenever you are stuck, breathe. If you find yourself moving too fast, breathe. As you face an important decision, breathe. Breathing is crucial to your emotional and spiritual health. Whenever there is a question in your mind about what to do next or how to do it, just breathe. Sooner or later the solution will appear. While we’d all like it sooner, we may find that later is more often the rule. And that’s what makes this so hard. So many of us never give later a chance. But later always comes, if it’s not sooner. So breathe and trust in the process.
Chances are that once you contemplate the idea of spending time quietly alone, you will feel some anxiety. It’s perfectly normal, if accustomed to a fast-paced and constantly moving world, to become disoriented when the movement stops. Even just the thought of jumping off can raise some fears. Our mind can be our own worst enemy.
The antidote for this is slow, deep breathing. Conscious breathing is an instant, magical cure and instills in us the courage to move forward. Its power to transform us and lessen our fear should convince us never to take anything for granted.
When anxiety takes hold of you as you contemplate ‘sitting’ quietly alone, simply resort to concentrated breathing and you will be able to take your next step. Breathe, breathe, and breathe some more.
4. Notice any Resistance
The garbage needs to be emptied. The cat’s claws need to be clipped. The back closet needs cleaning, and that letter to Aunt Flo simply can’t wait any longer. As you think about ‘sitting’ quietly alone, you may be distracted by the need to do something else. Don’t be surprised by this. There are many diversions waiting for you that often look more inviting. This is your mind resisting the idea of quieting down and facing yourself.
All it takes to overcome the resistance is a step over this line of resistance. Once you commit yourself, make the decision, and then take that step — quiet ensues almost at once. You begin to wonder what all the noise was about.
This resistance to sit quietly may never disappear completely. You may meet it each time. Sometimes it may fool you and appear as a legitimate distraction. Keep your resolve and try not to be swayed. Simply acknowledge the resistance, accept it for what it is, and push through it into your quiet space, leaving it behind.
5. Just Breathe
In order to slow down our thinking, which is responsible for our confusion and dissatisfaction, and learn how to listen to our intuition, we must willfully take action each day and spend some time concentrating on our breath. This is the most important single action you can take toward reaching fulfillment in your life.
Here’s all you have to do:
a. As stated in #1, schedule (otherwise the time will disappear) at least ten minutes a day for some non-thinking breathing practice. (Ten or fifteen minutes is good to start with and then after a few weeks experiment with increasing this to thirty or forty minutes. One of the benefits of doing this exercise is that you will find more time in your day.)
b. Choose a time and a place where you can be relatively free of outside distractions. Sit in a position that will allow you to breathe deeply and fully. No slumping. Erect your spine, loosen your belt. Lean on nothing. If you choose to sit in a chair, make it a straight-backed chair. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, hands resting gently in your lap. If you choose to sit on the floor, prop up your buttocks with a pillow and form a tripod with it and your two knees. Relax your head and let it sit squarely on your shoulders.
c. Keep your eyes gently open. This is important! Otherwise you will daydream or fall asleep.
d. Now just breathe. Bring all of your attention, your full concentration onto your breath. For the full length of each exhalation silently begin counting. For the full length of the first exhalation, say the number one to yourself. For the second exhalation, say two. For the third exhalation, say three. Then four. Then five. And then begin again. One, two, three, four, five. Simple. Easy. Ultimately profound. When you do it, you will know this.