I call my own meditation method "7 Questions, 7 Mantras."
I use the seven questions to guide me in bringing attention to my current state: What do I feel? What am I thinking? What am I doing? What am I saying? How am I relating? What do I see? Who am I?
They awaken me if I have fallen into the everyday trance of mindlessness where I may be going through the motions of living without being fully present. They prompt me to reflect if I am reacting to strong emotions. They guide me in aligning my values, actions and words.
The first four questions bring my attention to my experience and actions in the present moment. What is going on with my body? What emotions am I experiencing? What are my thoughts? How is my thinking affecting my emotional state? How are my emotions shading my reasoning? Are my actions and my words reacting to my feelings? Are they aligned with my values - what I care about and the person I would like to be?
The final three questions force me to step back and look at the big picture: my relationships; how I see my world, others and myself; and finally my deepest, essential nature and how I relate to the universe. When I shift my perspective to the greater picture, I am less likely to see others - including the people I love - as competitors or enemies.
Some people spend their whole lives without addressing these questions. Imagine how reactive and lost they can become in the daily drama of life.
The seven mantras are touchstones in my meditation. They help me refocus on my goals and ideals. With each question, I awaken to my current state and my truest nature.
In answer to "What am I feeling?," the mantra, "Feel your breath" reminds me to refocus and recentre - to find a place of calm.
In response to "What am I thinking?" - after reflecting on my current way of thinking and correcting catastrophic, negative or all-or-nothing thinking, I "think on peace."
In response to the question, "What am I doing?" the mantra reminds me to "walk in grace."
Similarly, the mantric answer to "What am I saying?" is "speak the truth." It is a reminder of the power of words to harm or to heal.
To "How am I relating?," my mantric goal is to "express love." Am I nurturing love in my relationships?
From the perspective of love, in response to the question "What do I see?" when I look around me and see others, I "see beauty."
Finally, in answer to "Who am I?," I "experience wonder." I realize that I am part of the greater whole, an integral part of society, and I play an essential role in the experience of wonder, creation and love in this world.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician and writer. His columns appear regularly in this Vancouver Courier. You can read more about meditation at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.