During meditation, you gently let go of the external distractions so you can genuinely be with what is. Being present in this way is actually very natural. Like a child watching an ant walking down the sidewalk carrying a crumb, that is all that exists in the world at that moment. The child is not thinking about what she had for breakfast or what she will do with her best friend at their next playdate. She is only watching the ant.
Although being aware of the moment is so simple, you may have spent years covering it up with all sorts of distractions, so you have to practice in order to reconnect with this concept. That's why meditation is so important.
When we work with corporations we often call it "Silent Space" since we are just being still and quiet. Meditation enables you to stop trying, to let go of your story, the drama and your busy mind, and to discover an inner ease. Some people describe this as a sense of coming home, as if you had been away or out of touch with yourself without having realized it. Others experience it as a huge relief as you release your anxiety and self-centeredness and enter into a more peaceful state of being. In this way, it is the most precious gift you can give yourself because the inner joy and happiness is incomparable. Personally, we don't know how we would function in this mad, mad world without it!
Here's a simple and effective practice that can be done anywhere and at anytime of day. Practice for five minutes, 10 minutes or longer:
Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Eyes are closed, breathe normally. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale...exhale...count one; inhale...exhale...two; inhale...exhale...three. Count to five, then start at one again. Just five breaths and back to one. Simply following each breath in and silently counting. So simple.
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Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of Be the Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. They are featured weekly contributors to Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com and Care2.com. Ed and Deb write Sprint's The Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages. They have three meditation CDs: Metta: Loving Kindness and Forgiveness, Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight and Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation. Deb is also the author of the best-selling book Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award.