The most powerful change comes from the inside of us and spreads outward. The Occupy Movement is growing and people are talking about how to more fully occupy what matters to them. I love all the discussions that are coming up thanks to thoughtful and conscious people. I wanted to add a few ideas that I thought would be helpful right away on an inner level. Those interested could take these ideas and work on bringing a greater presence to who they are and find at least a degree of inner peace along the way.
The following are three effective methods I know for occupying your mind:
The first method is about the simple practice of noticing your breath. This method of following the breath is easy to understand and powerful with practice. As the breath flows into you, notice how it interacts with your body. Feel the expansion of the body on the inhale as the oxygen fills you up. Then notice how your body shifts as you exhale. Feel the body release as the breath empties out. The cycle of the breath is body expanding on the breath in and body releasing on the breath out. This form of concentration, watching the flow of your breath, has several positive affects. The first is that you naturally begin to slow down and relax. The second benefits is that in noticing the breath you also become more fully present to yourself, what is going on inside and around you. You become present to yourself: you occupy the moment.
The second method is more general and it is called Mindfulness. Mindfulness has a large variety of practices. In this practice you watch what goes on in your mind. This watching is done without judging and with a spirit of inquiry as to what is going on inside the stream of your thoughts. As you listen inward, you notice that there are many conversations going inside. Those conversations may include: an ongoing dialogue about many things; often an inner critic who beats you up constantly; a voice of fear about the mess ups of the past and worries about the future; a rollercoaster ride of emotions; and other chaos the ego-mind creates. In this method you acknowledge what is going on inside the mind but you don’t try to change it. The noticing and watching of the mind brings insight and awareness. With awareness comes choice and choice makes any changes you want possible. Getting to know your mind and its content is very valuable in getting to know you. This awareness of self is an essential way to occupy who you are.
The third method is really one of multiple methods all originating in the practice called meditation. Meditation is part of numerous spiritual traditions but it can also be free of any spiritual contexts. In meditation you use concentration, mantras, breathing patterns, body awareness, ideas to explore, silence, and even walking as part of the methods you use. Meditation has been used for thousands of years and has a rich tradition of positive benefits. A very simple practice is to get into a meditative state by breathing in a pattern. One pattern of aware breathing is 7-1-7-1. A relaxed silent count up to seven as you breathe in, a count of one between the inhale and the exhale, then a relaxed count to seven as your breathe out, then a count of one before you inhale. The goal is to do this breathing pattern in a relaxed and concentrated manner. Soon you will settle into a deep and peaceful place. Be aware of what comes up inside of you in this meditative state. This is a way to occupy the most expansive part of you.
I highly recommend these three practices. Most cities have classes on meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi and other inner practices. The Web has many resources to supply you with instructional methods on CD’s and DVD’s. Finding a supportive teacher is the best way to learn. With practice in a short time you will be benefiting from the time you put in to fully Occupying your own mind, body and emotions.