When you meditate, you go into the light that is inside of you. That light is inside of everyone and everything, and it cannot be owned by any culture, country, religion, lineage or gender. Anyone can slow their mind down and experience that light. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or skinny, young or old, mediocre or extraordinary, a gal or a guy—anyone can meditate!
In the morning, meditate shortly after you wake up. It’s easier to meditate when you feel awake and alert, so take a shower (or at least wash your hands and face) and have a cup of coffee, tea or juice if you need that. A few bites of food are fine, but avoid eating a meal because a full stomach makes meditating more difficult. You will also have an easier time quieting your mind if you meditate before you engage your mind in the things that start it spinning, such as email, TV, Internet, phone calls or other conversations.
In the evening, you can meditate at sunset, when you get home, or before you go to bed. The sunset meditation is especially nice, when you can make it. Again, shower or wash your hands and face before you sit down.
Meditation tip excerpted from the new book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way. © 2013 Sara Weston
One tip in How to Be Happy NOW is to Avoid Naysayers, excerpted here:
There are some people who have limited perception and don’t think it’s possible to change your circumstances or make your dreams come true. Avoid sharing your dreams and aspirations with these folks because they can drag you down with their negativity and dissuade you from working towards your goals. Instead seek constructive criticism and feedback from people who are happy to assist you and don’t want to shoot you down.
The movie Maid in Manhattan is an enjoyable Cinderella retread, where the working class gal gets the prince/senator after running away from the ball, however what struck me as true-to-life and illustrative of the “Avoid Naysayers” tip was the relationship between the main character, Marisa, and her mother. Marisa, played by Jennifer Lopez, works as a maid in a five-star hotel. She dreams of a better life for herself and her young son, and wants to move out of housekeeping and into management. When her mother sees the application she says: (18:38 into the movie, or at 8:27 in this YouTube clip)
Mom: This fell out of your bag. Is it yours?
Marisa: Yeah, thanks.
Mom: Managment, huh? (raising her eyebrows)
Marisa: Um, hum
Mom: You’re fancy. (glaring)
Mom: I’m not saying a word.
Marisa: Can you not say a word somewhere else.
The mom doesn’t believe her daughter deserves to be anything more than a maid and completely discourages her dreams of moving into management. Later in the movie after Marisa is fired they have this exchange:
Mom: We’ll call Señora Rodriguez. She owes me a favor. She has–
Marisa: I’m not calling Mrs. Rodriguez. I love you, okay? I do. But I don’t want to clean houses. There’s nowhere to go from there.
Mom: Hasn’t this taught you anything? Wake up, little girl, you have responsibilities. And they come every month like clockwork. You want to end up back in the projects? Keep dreaming dreams that will never happen. You want to put food on the table? Call Señora Rodriguez.
Marisa: You’re right, Ma. I’m a good cleaning lady. I’ll start over. But not with Mrs. Rodriguez. I’m gonna find a job as a maid in some hotel. After some time passes, I’m gonna apply for the management program. And when I get the chance to be a manager….and I will, Ma, I know I will, I’m going to take that chance without any fear. Without your voice in my head telling me that I can’t.
I’m sure Marisa’s mom wanted what was best for her daughter, she just didn’t have the vision to see that more was available. There’s nothing surprising or wrong about a parent (friend, partner, etc.) having a limited dream, but we can’t pay attention to these people. Instead we need to seek constructive criticism and feedback from people who are happy to assist us and don’t want to shoot us down.
I like what John Tesh said about his transition in career from cohost of Entertainment Tonight to musician. He asked five people he knew well what they saw him doing with his life. Each said they saw him doing something with music and not one of them said they saw him reading celebrity birthdays on TV. He said, “The key is to ask the right people. These should be people who know you well or knew you well in the past and whose opinions you truly value. They should not all be close family members, however. Sometimes close family members point us toward the path that they consider stable or prudent, not to the one that can lead to our true passion.
“If I had asked my parents, they would have said that they saw me as a doctor—because they consider medicine a good profession, not because I have any interest in medicine or an aptitude for it.” Quoted in Bottom Line Personal, November 1, 2012.
It’s important to not judge your meditation. The only bad meditation is the one you don’t do! The truth is even when you have meditations that don’t feel as “good” or “powerful” as others, the light is still transforming you. It’s still working, even if it doesn’t feel like a good meditation to you.
>> To help support the 21-day meditation challenge that Oprah and Deepak Chopra are sponsoring, I’m posting meditation tips from my new book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way.
When you begin meditating, the most important thing is to establish a daily practice – you need to focus on just showing up and doing it! Once you are meditating on a regular basis, then the focus shifts to meditating correctly.
If you just space out and let your mind wander, you won’t experience the benefits of meditation. In order to meditate correctly, it’s important to not think about other people or talk to other people in your mind. Don’t work on your to-do list or ruminate on projects at work or school. Instead, when you notice you are thinking, simply bring your focus back to the area of focus (chakra, breath, mantra or yantra). Don’t fight the thought or get frustrated that you are thinking, again, be patient with yourself and just return your mind to the area of focus.
Also keep in mind that a shorter, completely focused meditation is more effective than a longer, spaced-out one.
How to Be Happy NOW…Even If Things Aren’t Going Your Way is a new book about how to be happy all the time. Written using accessible language, and lots of color photos and illustrations, it describes the things we can do to have a bright, happy life.
In our hyper-connected world, the message is that happiness comes from getting the latest fashions, the hot guy or gal, the perfect car and the stylish house, but come on, don’t buy what they are selling out there! Even people who have it all can be miserable if they’re out of touch with their spirit.
How to Be Happy NOW shows you the way to be deeply happy all of the time regardless of whether you have it all or not. With practical and accessible wisdom, it provides seven core practices that will get you in touch with your spirit and make you truly happy. Also included are lots of tips designed to make your life easier and more fun. Adopting even a few of these tips will increase your energy and give you a bigger smile, while mastering the core practices will bring you unshakable and lasting happiness.