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Think small

Someone recently told me she wanted to learn to meditate but it seemed like such a daunting task. The truth is that I'm not the sort of meditator that practices by sitting daily on my cushion for 10 or 30 or 60 minutes. That IS daunting to me which is why it's not my practice.

My advice is to start small. When you think you are ready to try meditation, I suggest you slow down, take a breath and decide to focus on one small thing. Here are some ideas.

  • Say a prayer for someone who troubles you. Sincerely.

  • Listen to a close partner or friend when they complain. Don't formulate your answer or counter-argument or solution. Just listen. That's it. Listen. There's nothing else to do.

  • Notice. Notice one flower. Or one weed growing up through the asphalt or between bricks. Or a child and parent interacting. Or how the person in front of you orders their coffee. It doesn't matter what you notice. Just notice and marvel.

  • Taste your food. Eat or drink slowly noticing the texture, temperature, aroma and flavor. When you swallow, try to track the food to the stomach. Within the following hours, remember your experience and note how the food keeps you satiated.

  • Walk outdoors without headphones or your cell phone and do everything or anything mentioned above. Pray for the residents of the houses you pass; listen to the birds or other sounds around you; notice the vegetation around you -- the trees, the grasses, the weeds, the gardens and lawns and shrubs; taste a piece of grass or a raspberry or a crabapple.

Meditation is a personal practice so go ahead and make it your own. Start small. Notice, taste, listen, attend. Pick anything you do, any interaction with a person, a place or a thing. Start with small steps -- you don't have to make a big thing of it. Just don't be surprised if thinking small turns into something big.


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