Sure, the ancient yogis found inner bliss by stretching in their yoga poses and sitting on their cushions for hours on end. But we live in the real world—frequently too busy treading water to spare that kind of time! Fortunately, after digesting tons of spiritual books and attending myriad workshops, then experimenting with what works for me, I’ve created my own Reader’s Digest-ish shortcut to daily bliss. To connect to your elevated interior, try (as best as you can) to sprinkle these simple steps throughout your day.
1. Sing in the shower. One thing the ancient yogis were right about: Set a good tone first thing in the morning and you float through the day. But I often can’t drag myself out of bed early enough to meditate, so my solution is, I sing in the shower. Rather than fixate on problems and to-dos, I send my thoughts skyward via song. I learned this technique from a healthy and joyful 99-year-old man, whom I’m convinced got that way because he belted out “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” with every shampoo. I prefer Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”
2. Listen for the bird chirp (or the dog bark….). Several years ago, I read the old Aldous Huxley novel, Island, where the Mynah birds on his Utopian Pala constantly shout, “Attention, attention,” to remind the natives that here-and-now is most important. I decided to use the occasional chirping of the birds outside my window as my own prompt to pause; I stop and take a long, deep breath, and am immediately pulled into the present moment—the only place we can access our higher selves. If you don’t have regularly cacophonous fowls, any vocal animal, or even a neighbor’s crying baby, are equally wonderful cues.
3. Stop whining. The biggest problem with our chronic complaints: They keep the mind fixated on what’s going wrong, rather than on the higher-vibration, fabulous things that are working. Next time you’re ready to criticize or complain, stop and ask, “What is this unhappy situation making me desire?” Then turn your whole focus to that.
4. Stretch your arms up. As a longtime, big-time fan of yoga, I know the value of sneaking even a couple of poses into the day. The stretches make you feel great physically, and, equally important, they expand your mind. My favorite micro session when I can’t do a full class: A boat pose (aka Superman), a full forward bend, and a half spinal twist. (If you’re at your desk: raising your arms and arching backward and holding a minute, folding forward down to your ankles for another, then twisting around to the right side, then the left.)
5. Sit on your rump. I’m not talking about all those hours we spend on the computer. I’m talking about meditation. Not necessarily the 15 to 30 minutes twice daily that experts recommend. (Of course, do that when you can.) Ten, or even five, minutes once or twice anytime in the day can be sufficient. By focusing the mind on one thing (a word like “peace,” a sound like “om,” the flicker of a candle…), you’re training it to release the worries about the past or fears over the future that keep us from fully experiencing the present. I adore my 10 minute mini-meds, and, more important, the way they spill into the rest of my day.
6. Fantasize. No, not about sex–although you’re welcome to do that, too. Fantasize about what you’re wanting for your life. The teachings about law of attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks make clear that you get what you think about. I used to spend much of my day pondering things as they were (what the Hicks’ call “tell-it-like-it-is-itis”). But if our thoughts create, it behooves us to shift to those that make our hearts sing: the desired job, financial state, health status, dream trip, romantic partner, experience and/or situation in the world. Ponder your desires in great detail, until you feel enthusiasm stirring.
7. Kiss your pillow (and your partner, too). Before going to bed each night, think about 5 people, events, and/or objects you appreciate. Begin with the easiest: items right in your delicious bed (including your scrumptious pillow and, if someone is there, your mate). How better to end your day than by connecting to your highest self, which, as pure love, always appreciates? You will drift off with ease, and, more important, set a glorious vibration to wake up in tomorrow morning.
Image: Tse Chuen Tsai from Kuching, Malaysia / Wikimedia Commons