Meditation can seem really complicated. And a lot of people make it seem that way. They complain they don’t have time, they don’t like to sit still, and they can’t stop their thinking. All of those things may be true. BUT, meditation is still a worthwhile endeavor. There are hundreds and hundreds of articles on the benefits of meditation, and if you’re reading this post, you’ve probably already accepted the idea that meditation can help you.
Some of my friends have asked me about meditation and what it does for me. I can say that it helps me stay calm, it helps me stay focused, it helps me feel centered. How do I know this? Because I feel way different from how I used to feel and on the rare day that I don’t get it in, I don’t feel as balanced and present.
Also, though, here’s what I can say meditation is NOT. It is not always a transformative, other-worldly experience. I don’t always feel vibrational energy, I don’t always have weird things happen. Most of the time it just feels like deep, deep calm. I feel as though my body is completely asleep, my breath is very slow and shallow (sometimes I wonder if it’s enough to support my life!), however my mind is fully alert and very sensitive, and at the same time, also very still.
I meditate practically daily. Sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes I feel rushed, or scattered, or like I don’t have time. But I just do it. Now that I have been practicing for a while, an interesting thing is happening: I can now slip in to a meditative state just about anywhere. Sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for class to begin, wherever. I just close my eyes and my brain immediately slows down. Therefore, I submit to you that meditation is something that can be learned. It isn’t called a PRACTICE for nothing: if you practice, you’ll get better and better at it.
There are no "rules" for meditation, but here are some basic guidelines to help you get started:
- When you first start out it’s easier if you have a temperature-controlled, dimly lit, QUIET area. It also helps if the space is clutter-free.
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, with spine straight. If you have trouble doing this, I highly suggest a meditation cushion like a zafu or a cosmic cushion. You can also sit with your back against a wall for more support.
- As you begin the “meditation” portion, just allow yourself to be. If you have thoughts, gently guide your mind back to your breath and follow it for a bit. Sit for 10-15 minutes, you can gradually increase your time to what ever feels comfortable as you get more adept. You may even decide 10-15 minutes is enough. That's okay.
- Repeat Daily, at least for 40 days. If you are serious about having a practice, getting in 40 days will really help you get comfortable with it and it will help cement the process in to your life.
Some additional thoughts and ideas:
- If you are struggling with a frantic mind, try doing some yoga asanas, or postures, before your meditation. Even a few rounds of surya namaskar (sun salutation) can help.
- After you do the postures, sit or lie down quietly for a few minutes before you dive in to the meditation.
- You may get to the point where you are able to “witness” your thoughts as if you are an outsider.
- You can try guided meditations for a thought-ridden mind, as well. There are several excellent ones. Email me and I can recommend a few.
- Effort is required, diligence is required, desire is required, but with three things in hand, you can learn to meditate.
Hopefully this will give you a good start to the practice of meditation. I promise you it is a deeply cleansing and healing practice and it will benefit you in ways you can't even imagine. The most important thing of all is to remember to be easy with yourself. Be gentle with the practice as you develop it, but be disciplined in giving it a go every day. As time passes, you'll find it becomes something that is almost effortless.