A Guided Meditation For Compassion, Creativity and Daily Life

I’ve had a few clients lately who are going through big changes. Some good, some difficult. All very big and taking up a lot of their mind and emotional space.

Many talk about wanting to take news steps in their lives, in their creative work.

They want to be more honest in their work. They’re shedding old rules about what they could and couldn’t do in their creative lives, often embedded by difficult experiences in training and in their industry.

Now they’re ready to make the big leap and do not just better work, but work that knocks it out of the park. Work that defines who they are.

Others talk about anxiety of making decisions. Some talk about stress.

As I checked in during our sessions, it’s often turned out that the most important thing we could do to start the session was something that would help them come back to themselves, to land back in the session so they could focus on themselves, what they wanted to do and create.

So we walked through a meditation exercise I often do. It’s the simplest mindfulness exercise I can offer to help you if you’re an actor, a writer, a creative who’s under the pump on a project, if you’re on set or in post, if you’re in the studio trying to connect to your creative work.

It’s the foundation for a lot of meditation practices to help meditators come back to the present – letting go of the tensions and stresses of the past, the worries about what’s happening next in the day.

This meditation helps you to see that those thoughts and feelings may well float around in your mind and body – and you’re more than that.

And I find that people who can get to this place are much more open for their creative work. 

That’s partly because they’re open to the muse, the creative gods, the subconscious, the creative self – and also, very pragmatically, because their energy isn’t being wasted on running storylines, stress and worries.

I’ve found it very helpful for actors, writers and creatives of all kinds to help bring more of themselves to their work.

This practice helps you to let go of mental tension, become aware of and relax physical tensions and drop out of overthinking. 

Most importantly, it helps to ground you – which for me means you’ll have a sense of relaxation and presence in the body and mind, not just knowing but more importantly experiencing that you’re here and fully present, aware of but undistracted by the thoughts, feelings and other incoming.

This exercise begins with a focus of grounding through your experience of your feet. 

I’ve learned about the importance of being aware of your feet from two very important sources. One was the meditation teacher Thich Nhat Nanh, who placed a lot of attention on the feet in walking meditation. 

The other was the great voice teacher Kristen Linklater, who emphasised grounding through the feet as a way to connect to the body and drop out of your head. You can hear Kristin talk about this, and some other important practices to link the body and voice, in this interview with creative coach Mark McGuinness.

Long story short, it’s much harder to get caught in your head if you’re in your feet.

This exercise also helps with physical relaxation and relaxation of the breath. There’s a lot further we could go with relaxation, but for now, we’re focusing on the simple things to help you get present.

Once you’ve gone through this exercise a few times, you’ll find how it best helps you and you’ll make your own rhythm with it. 

You might find you can simplify it, or you might like to keep listening and have someone else’s voice take the reigns.

Also, I’m including the transcript. Sometimes I like to do meditations by reading along with the instructions. It gives my mind a clear focus, which helps me to drop away from other thoughts and storylines and into the body. So, if that helps you, enjoy!

Fun fact: I once taught this exercise to a group of medical specialists. One of them, a specialist and surgeon, said it would be very helpful for her to do when standing at the operating table while they were wheeling one patient out from underneath her and wheeling the next one in! 

There might be a conversation about stress and workload in there somewhere, but I mention it because this exercise really is very helpful no matter where you find yourself!

I hope you enjoy this short grounding and breath practice! I’d love to know how it goes for you. Please get in touch and tell me about your experience with it.

Click here for the simplest mindfulness practice I can offer you: ten minutes to calm

Here’s a transcript of this recording, if you’d like to practice by reading along. Take a moment to get comfortable and read, one line at a time, taking your own pace as though you’re creating a soothing, calming presence for someone.

Let’s begin then by feeling the weight of yourself in the chair, and the soles of your feet on the floor. 

Now you can close your eyes if you want. If you’re not completely comfortable closing your eyes, you can just let them defocus a few feet in front of you, that’s also fine. 

Notice the soles of your feet and particularly the sensations of soles of feet on floor. 

Can you even now notice that, as you become aware of the soles of your feet, there’s a relaxation and opening there? Without you needing to try to do anything about it… 

And can you for now and for the next few minutes, let go of the idea of or the image of your feet.

So that you move into your ability to experience these sensations. 

Now also notice the sensations of your calves, your thighs up into the sit bones and that area just under the navel, lower lumbar region. Let yourself sit more heavily in your seat.

Notice any extra energy, extra activity, extra attention that you’re doing even now just sitting as you notice that perhaps you can gently let drift away.

Sitting in this more solid experience of sitting in a chair. Now as you do that, you might notice that your upper body feels a little lighter and that you can allow your spine to straighten a little.

Just gently, there’s no need rush, no imperative, but as your lower body becomes solid and heavy, it frees up your upper body, your spine to extend gently up through your shoulders, which might also relax as the spine stretches up into the neck and the base of the skull.

Can you take a moment now, while we’re also just noticing energy and feeling and sensation, to become aware of the sensation in the hands? And simply let go of anything that the hands might be doing, any extra tension that might be there. 

Take a moment now to become aware of the whole body and how you feel. Again, let go of ideas or images of any part of the body that you’re feeling. It’s fine if those images come back, incidentally, that’s what the mind is trained to do. You can also just let them go and return to the sensations.

And as you notice these sensations you might become aware of your breath. 

Sometimes we feel as though we need to do something to ‘take a breath’. What happens if, for now, you let go of that idea or that need and just notice the breath coming into the body?

Maybe you feel the breath in the nostril? Maybe in the chest. Maybe in the belly, whatever is right for you…

As you notice the exhale, see if that relaxation in the exhale can just diffuse through the sensations of your body, then wait for the next inhale to come through. 

Trust that the body knows when it wants to breathe, gently exhaling, staying alert and also experiencing this relaxation. 

So let’s do three more of those and see where the inbreath wants to come into your body. Breathing in everything in our energy, noticing the outbreath – relaxed.

Two more like that: breathing in, perhaps soften through any other tensions that could possibly do with a little bit of gentle awareness and care.

With your third breath, now just notice how you’re feeling in the body. Aware of any sensation and simply notice that for now. 

As you are present right here, there is nowhere you need to go. Nowhere you need to be. Nothing you need to do. 

And, perhaps most interestingly, no one you need to be. 

Bringing your awareness down to the soles of feet again as you’re sitting. And noticing how you feel now. 

Maybe now a little wiggle into the toes and into the fingers just to bring your attention back to the body.

Maybe a little sway side to side when you’re ready, not with any sense that the meditation has ended, retaining this the sense of relaxation, clarity and presence, you can open your eyes.

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  1. Pingback: Self-Compassion: the Antidote to Your Inner Critic - Craig Behenna

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