You ask me questions, and I’ll give you answers. Today’s blog post is a melange of questions asked by readers this week. You can ask some too! The people that connect with me through Sunday Is For Lovers are my e-friends, my e-family, my e-community. I’m always honored & happy to engage with you. Simply email me your questions (link here) or leave them as comments. I’ll either reply to you directly, or include the answer in a blog post. (I will never share your personal information, only my general answers.) So feel free to reach out.
You’re always so cheerful. How do you do it?
There are certain things that make me agitated & miserable, I try to keep them out of my day/life. Sometimes I have to do them, or sometimes they creep in, but if I keep them in-check or at bay, I can stay pretty peppy & inspired. Below are a few examples:
Fitting in with social norms and engaging in small talk.
Doing work that feels out of alignment with my values.
Being stuck in traffic or in noisy/congested/polluted areas.
Eating or drinking acid forming foods in excess.
Not having the space or time to contemplate/simply be.
Sitting in chairs too long, not feeling free to move.
Having too much stuff or feeling burdened by luxuries.
What does A.P.S. mean?
A.P.S. [Rainbow] is a shortened version of my name, plus my dog’s name.
The A is for Aimee, and the P. S. Rainbow is for Penelope Super Rainbow. My dog was already named Penelope when I adopted her, and my sister added the Super Rainbow.
What have you learned (or are learning) about yourself?
I learned to question myself/life; to see if I am doing something out of social influence or a natural gravitational pull. I learned that my life is more magical when I surrender and give up ‘control’/overthinking. I’m learning to listen more, see more, and to be kinder to myself. I learned that much of what I hated about myself as a child is now becoming my strongest and my most loyal/unique trait. Awareness becomes more & more important to me as I get older. To observe, watch, see, listen, feel, be… it’s paramount for me.
Is [meditation] as simple as quieting the mind?
You don’t quiet the mind. You simply get simple and the mind gets quiet.
There is no activity, nothing that needs to be done, no A to Z journey, no goal — not even quieting the mind. Only being, or being simple.
Think of it this way: think of those blissful moments when you are on the toilet pooping, and a great idea/insight pops in your mind! It could be in the shower, or while waiting for a bus, or going for a run, or looking out the window of a moving train. These moments are simply spaces. Moments in time when you’ve totally relaxed and had space between your thoughts, and that space gave your mind the opening to have an insight, clear view, ah-ha, or great idea. That’s what meditating or being feels like. It’s very relaxing & effortless, it happens on its own. You could be still & planted, or be somewhere doing something, but you aren’t identifying with it. You are simply being, in a state of flow, or being moved, being breathed, being thought, being relaxed. It’s not you, it’s just life happening through you. And when you let go, you can feel the spaciousness/vastness of it, you can be the space.
Is chanting necessary [for meditation]? If so, why?
Absolutely not. Chanting is not necessary.
Chanting can be helpful for people with busy minds, that need routine or are beginning a practice, but it’s not necessary. In general, it’s scientifically proven that you can not think of two things at one time. You can multitask, but your mind switches back and forth between the activities, it doesn’t/can’t hold both in thought at the exact same time. It has to fluctuate its focus, focusing on one thing at a time. So… if you meditate, and you repeat something, you can’t entertain other thoughts. Which is good. You can’t say Om and think of laundry in the exact same moment. And if you think Om, Om, Om, Om, Om, Om, Om, Om… (you get the picture)… laundry is no where in your mind, because there is no room! It’s focused and filled with Om. And of course some chanting/mantras hold special vibrations or meanings, etc. But they aren’t needed. Nothing is needed to be. Being is meditating. Being is natural from birth. (And before birth, as you were ‘just being’ in your mother’s womb.)
I love having a dog, I learn so much from her. She’s the best mediation teacher I’ve ever had. She can sit and look at me for hours. She can sit and stare at her doggie blanket for hours too! She’s happy to walk, sleep, eat, drink, or do absolutely nothing. She just holds the space for it. When sitting, she sits there. When eating, she’s fully engaged in eating. When sleeping, she gets right to it! She’s present, fully present for all of it. Being is presence. It’s awareness. It’s being with what is. A meditation cushion could help, so could a certain schedule — or it could not! It’s whatever works.
I totally think the best meditation practice is the one someone will actually do. If mantras work well and bring someone grace, peace and mental space. That’s a winner! If walking meditation is great for someone, or sitting on a zafu staring at a wall, or floating in a salt water swimming pool — whatever it takes! The point is to let go. Find a way to let go and gain greater awareness, greater peace, greater acceptance — spaciousness, openness, expansion, compassion. Whatever is grease on your relaxed being wheels is a good thing. But no, mantras are never needed. They can help though. For some people.
Is it okay to meditate lying down?
The difference between sleep & mediation is the fact that you are aware. If you can lie down and stay awake, stay present, stay in the moment — then I think it’s totally acceptable. Some might say you are giving your energy to the floor/bed, or that the energy in the spine can not rise to the head, etc.. I think it’s more important for you to develop a practice and do what feels like restful being. Siting upright in a pretzel-like pose is not restful being in many cases. For some people, it would drive the mind wild. I would simply avoid that. Sit on grass, lie on the floor, take a hot bath — do whatever will bring your mind into a state of grace, gratitude and simplicity. The more you practice this, the more you will be able to do it in any position, comfortable or not. But I would not begin with uncomfortable. Start with where you are. Start there. Get comfortable. Stay awake. Breathe and be.
As a side note: If you are using meditation as a way to fall asleep, then I would say you need more sleep. Do not use meditation as a way to fall asleep. Be kind to yourself, understand that you need more rest. If you fall asleep while meditating, it’s a good sign! You now know what you need to do. Get more rest and reset your daily priorities. Do that first. Get that caught up and in order. Once you are ready, begin a practice of meditation with full wakefulness, full presence. And if that means at night lying on your back — that’s totally okay. Just remain present. Stay with the feeling of being at ease and awake. This is why meditation is typically done in the morning and afternoon. It sets the tone for how to live each day. Going though our busy lives, with a mind that is clear, at ease and fully aware. Fully present.