Learning to meditate can be a long, slow process. As I’ve previously discussed, I have a bad case of squirrel brain, and it’s never easy to get my thoughts to sit down and shut up. But I keep at it, a little every morning, and it’s starting to get a bit easier.

When I’m feeling particularly scattered, one thing that helps is starting out with a home-brewed chakra meditation. This gives me several things to focus on. I silently repeat the name of the chakra point and the related color as I breathe in, and on the exhale I focus on two qualities associated with that point and color. Moving my attention down the body also helps me identify and eliminate tension. (I carry an enormous amount of tension in my neck and shoulders, which probably explains the herniated disk. Being mindful of this, if only for a few minutes a day, does seem to help.)

Here’s my personal routine:

Crown: purple.  Knowledge, understanding.
Third eye: indigo, Perception, intuition.
Throat: blue. Communication, song.
Heart: green.  Life, love.
Solar plexus: yellow.  Breath, optimism.
Core: orange.  Motivation, creativity.
Base: red.  Strength, energy.

This gives my mind a lot to do. It centers on a particular physical area and checks in for tension, it envisions a color and sometimes a scene that embodies that color (an October landscape, for example), and it takes a moment to acknowledge values that are important to me. It’s a lot, but it’s also focused and deliberate, and it slows down the squirrel brain from a multi-directional dash to a more sedate jog. A couple of times through this routine, and I’m usually ready to simply follow the breath.

I’m not doing this because I’m an aging hippy, although admittedly, that description isn’t too far off the mark. The ability to focus attention is pivotal to creativity and productivity, and I’m determined to get a whole lot more of that going on. Meditation is one of the tools I’m using to turn things up a notch.