I meditate. But it’s been a long road to get here. The road ahead is longer- but I’m focused on the now.
Buddha on the mountaintop, I’m not. A bit tense high-strung might describe me- my mind clicks at a million miles a minute. In fact, as I am typing this I am thinking of a grocery list, my class tonight, my own practice and the laundry that I need to fold.
Suffice it to say- I was the poster child for someone who needed to get still. I wasn’t completely averse or unaware of this thought- I do find stillness both before and after my yoga practice. Yet, I hadn’t fully embraced a meditation practice. Oh sure, there have been some half-hearted attempts. But even though I’m a yoga teacher and someone who works on becoming more self-aware, the idea of meditating made me a bit… skittish.
Fear, mostly. Afraid of my thoughts? Maybe. Afraid that I’d be forced to let go and breathe- a little bit of the doctor getting a taste of her own medicine? Perhaps….
Maybe there was a little lazy mixed in for good measure. I’m being harder on myself than I should be- but I’d broken too many promises to my spirit by not committing to a practice of stillness.
Last year I practiced 108 days in a row of yoga (as you have probably guessed I’m sort of an all or nothing kind of woman- this is a gift and a curse and another post entirely) – it was a great way to reconnect with my practice and myself.
And it worked.
I was going to do it again this year- but in the back of my mind I knew that meditating was the bigger issue.
So I procrastinated- I told myself I needed the perfect meditation space. I told myself I should start on a Monday, when the sun was out, on the fifth of the month..blah blah you get the idea.
After reading a post on MindBodyGreen about before and after photos of people who meditated I said out loud:
“I’m going to commit 108 days of mediation and see what happens.” (I love experiments particularly when I’m the guinea pig)
And so it was. I don’t know how you operate, but when I say things out loud- even when my dog Dakota is the only witness, they become true and therefore must be realized. Now that I had said it- it was time to get started. Here are the ten things that helped me:
- Leap. There is no great time to get started meditating. I would always be busy. I just had to start.
- Keep a journal of your feelings either in a diary or on your phone. Jotting down feelings is a powerful motivator for both change and acceptance.
- Start small. I started out for with 10 minutes and went from there. If ten minutes seems like eternity, then try five.
- Use an app or a timer. It’s hard to let go if you are constantly sneaking your eyes open to take a peek at the clock. By using the stopwatch function on your phone you can focus on the act of observing your breathing rather than a watching how many minutes are still left. I found success with two apps. One is Stop, Breathe & Think- this app allows you to ‘check in’ with your feelings before you begin and offers suggestions for a meditation that suits your mood. Another app is Insight Timer. One of the cool features of this app is that it shows you how many people are meditating when you are.
- Find a comfortable seat. Sit upright. I sit on the floor on a block. But using a pillow or a chair may work for some.
- Find a comfortable gaze. This may mean the eyes are open or closed. I like to close my eyes. If I chose to do a second meditation at night- I’ll keep my eyes open and use a candle.
- Use a simple mantra. My monkey mind can get the best of me. Swinging from thought to thought while I’m trying to be still. Instead of trying to reach up and grab the thoughts I allow them to go on but I focus on a simple thought that turns the volume on those thoights down. Sometimes it’s a simple phrase like ‘I am.’ I inhale on the word I and exhale on am. Inhale and exhale. I…Am…Eventually I come to the place I am quiet- even if only for a moment. If a phrase doesn’t work counting can help- inhale on one and exhale on two.
- Be kind (to yourself). It’s not easy to be still- especially in the go go go world. There will be days when it’s torture to sit. Heck, many days are like that- but if every step I take is on the path to enlightenment- I can’t go wrong by trying.
- Be consistent. During the first few days- I made time each day to be still. This didn’t work for me. So now- I get up early each morning and begin my day with stillness.
- Try again. And again.
It’s been two weeks and I feel…aware. Aware to the idea that living in the moment is powerful. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that meditating is not about emptying my mind but coming to understand it.
So- go ahead and sit.