Guided meditations: from: marrying the moment: meditations for softening hardship.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Meditation (Health aspects)
Meditation (Methods)
Meditation (Analysis)
Mental illness (Prevention)
Mental illness (Research)
Author: Eliot, Eve
Pub Date: 09/22/2010
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Fall, 2010 Source Volume: 13 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 242897532
Full Text: When meeting with clients who report agitation in the body, an inability to focus, compulsive behavior, trouble with sleeping, relational difficulties, chronic health challenges, and /or a variety of other difficulties, I have found it beneficial to spend a few minutes in each session guiding them through a meditation. Accordingly, I have created guided meditation "scripts" in response to a range of difficulties. Clients report very good results as a result of having learned these techniques introduced during sessions. (See "Meditation Off the Cushion: Helping Clients Using Mind Training," Winter 2006 Annals.)

No matter how strong the intention to explore meditation is, commencing such a practice at home often eludes us. There are far too many distractions, and this important item for our self-care agenda gets consigned all too often to the very bottom of the to-do list. Using part of a therapy hour to delve into such a practice is a perfect context to help clients develop this powerful tool for self-soothing.

What follows is the first of a series of such guides for cultivating this skill of self-calming. As you will see in the meditation offered on the next page, as well as with those that will follow in subsequent issues, there is an emphasis on breath awareness. This is a tool to bring the listener into the present moment. "Coming in for a landing" into the therapeutic encounter is, of course, essential to providing the best outcome, not only for that particular therapy hour, but also as an experience of presence which can resonate with the client long after they leave the session.

In order to hum a tune, one first has to learn a song. I think of these guides as a teaching tool familiarizing clients with the felt sense of calm so that they can access that sense in other contexts. In this way, challenging times become perfect training grounds for practicing self-soothing throughout even the most difficult intervals.

The form of meditation being presented here can also be termed "mindfulness practice" for those clients who may be intimidated by the prospect of learning meditation. People often view meditation as a practice that requires one to sit cross-legged in a rigorous, straight-backed posture. I like to present the practice to clients in a looser, friendlier format. For our purposes, the terms "mindfulness" and "meditation" are interchangeable. Mindfulness simply refers to using the mind to watch the breath, and/or using the mind to watch itself. Mindfulness can also be defined as being non-judgmentally aware of one's experience.

The meditation on "Longing," which follows, is the first in a series of many meditations offering tools to support the listener through hardship. Others in the series include meditations on aging, loneliness, retirement, grief, financial distress, hopelessness, acute distress, illness, and heartbreak. There is a series of meditations for finding contentment. This is a condition often seeming to require a long and arduous journey, especially to clients beleaguered by stress, but which can often be achieved in an interval of 25 minutes when a guided visualization is presented in a context without distraction.

There is also a series of meditations for individuals with anxiety about visits to the dentist (Tooth Fairy Speaks), and a series of meditations for children as well (Holding Still to Free the Butterfly: Meditations for Squirmy Kids) for those readers whose practices focus on people under age 12.

It is recommended that the guided meditations be read to the client in a session. Hearing the "scripts" in the voice of one's own therapist makes them highly absorbable. In addition, all the meditations are available as CDs and from Amazon and other sites as downloads so that the client can access them at any time.

May you have success with these, and may they calm you as well!

Meditation on Longing

By Eve Eliot

Whatever you are longing for, notice where you are right now, where in space you are. Whether you are sitting or lying down, notice the weight of your body pressing down on the surface upon which you are resting.

Breathe, and become aware of the movement of the breath. Notice the inhale ... that slight natural pause at the top of the inhale. Notice the exhale ... and that slight natural pause at the bottom of the exhale. Take a moment with this. Allow your body to surrender to gravity. Feel the support in that grounding of your body.

Ask yourself what it is about this moment, right here, now, that falls short of the fulfillment of your longing. Many stories of discontent may arise in your mind in response to this question.

Longing, after all, is a way of being at war with the moment.

But we are in bodies for such a short time. Let this reality penetrate your awareness. We are in bodies for such a relatively short time. What if this were your Last moment?

Can you allow yourself to consider just for now, just for this moment, the full acceptance of this moment as satisfying the criteria for complete fulfillment?

Allow something like spaciousness, an image of spaciousness, to flow into your mind.

There could be a cloudless sky right there in your mind.

There is plenty of room there for the possibility of fulfillment, now.

Ending the war with the moment ... quite a concept. Breathe. Make space for this possibility of ending the war with the moment.

Are you willing, just for now--feeling the weight of your body, noticing the movement of your breath, the inhale ... that slight natural pause; the exhale ... that slight natural pause--to consider full acceptance of this moment?

Are you willing to become engaged to this moment? Take a moment with this. Breathe.

Would you be willing to marry this moment? Consider. Ask.

Are you willing to marry this moment, to cherish this moment in sickness and in health, in poverty and in abundance, in the embrace of loved ones or feeling entirely alone?

Are you willing to marry this moment, to cherish this moment in sickness and in health, in poverty and in abundance, in the embrace of loved ones or feeling entirely alone?

Are you willing to marry this moment, this very moment now ... forsaking all other moments ... moments you preferred in the past, moments you believe are to come which you imagine will be better? Are you willing to be fully committed to this moment?

Breathe, and ask.

Settle, and know that your heart can feel at peace in any moment you fully choose to be in. You can choose full presence with the felt sense of your own body weight. You can choose to be fully alive in this moment with the awareness of your breath, this very breath, this inhale ... this exhale. You can choose, now, to let go of longing for some other moment.

You can choose now, with the circumstances surrounding you, with the emotions arising within you, to marry this very moment.

May your heart choose to be at peace with this moment, with this breath, this inhale ... this exhale ... this calming pause.

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EVE ELIOT is a psychotherapist, a yoga instructor, meditation teacher, and contributor to Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association. Her unique use of metaphor to teach mindfulness makes it easier for students to access the stillness available through meditation. Eliot is the author of the meditation CDs Marrying the Moment: Meditations for Softening Hardship; First Aid: Meditations for Troubled Times; Tooth Fairy Speaks: A Dentist Appointment You Can Love; Contentment Meditations, and Holding Still to Free the Butterfly: Meditations for Squirmy Kids, and of the books Attention Shoppers: The Women's Guide to Enlightenment Through Shopping; Insatiable: The Compelling Story of Four Teens, Food and Its Power; and Ravenous: The Stirring Tale of Teen Love, Loss and Courage. See Teen Reads (www.teenreads.com) for more information about these. The meditations are available from Amazon and iTunes as downloads, and from Amazon and CDBaby as CDs. Her Web site, eveeliot.com, is under renovation.
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