Warning: This post may be a little too whimsical for some… and then it may be a little too challenging for others. If you think that meditation is all woo-woo and has zero benefit to you or anyone else, then maybe you should just move right along now. But if you have at least a half open mind or mild curiosity about what everyone is going on about, then stick around. You might learn something. Then again, you might also find yourself in that uncomfortable state of being challenged to better yourself. Maybe.
I struggle with it.
There, I said it.
I struggle with daily meditation. Well, ANY meditation actually.
Maybe we should start a support group.
While I may jest, that is how I sometimes feel. It seems that the most successful people all have this daily practice of meditation. (To me, the successful people are those that are living a life that they seem really happy with. They earn a comfortable – extravagant living, they spend lots of time with their family, they seem calm, they are kind and generous and happy with the work they do and the value they provide to the world.)
And yet… I have no idea what to do or how to meditate.
To provide some background: I have had to overcome some pre-conceived ideas about meditation. I grew up in a Christian home where we were warned about the perils of the dark arts. Seances, fortune telling, palm reading – all that kind of stuff. In my child-like mind I had associated meditation with these types of practices and the little bits that I had heard or read about meditation did not sit right with my belief system. I was told that to ‘empty your mind’ would allow evil thoughts into your mind. So that, to me, meant meditation was evil. And guided meditation was even worse. That meant that I would LET someone else guide me down the path to hell! I’m not kidding, I really did think this way. Enlightenment comes in many forms, huh.
It took me a few years, but I soon came to realise that’s not what meditation is. I don’t actually have a definition of meditation, but there’s a verse in the Bible that gave me some comfort. In Joshua 1:8 it says, ‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.’ This verse is telling me to meditate on the word of God, that to meditate in it is to immerse yourself in it. I began to think that meditating may not be ‘emptying your mind’, but rather filling it with something of your choosing.
So meditation is an area that I’d like to work on. With the frenetic pace at which my mind is stimulated by screens as I consume megabytes of data everyday, I feel like I’ve lost touch with my own mind. I would like to develop the habit of stilling my mind and letting myself be mindful for at least a few minutes every day. Mindful of my body and how it’s feeling; mindful of my breathing, to feel that relief of finally taking a deep breath and filling my torso with life giving air.
Do you also want to feel the benefits of meditation? Is it something that you want to add to your daily life?
Here’s what I’m doing:
1. This sitting meditation every day http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/use-a-chair-for-meditation/. It’s only 4 1/2 minutes long.
You know what’s scary… I’m hesitating writing this. Yup, I’m getting agitated at the thought of having to make myself sit and do a meditation every day. Every. Day.
I feel like if I write it on this blog then I am making a commitment, not just to myself, but to all of you. I mean, now you all know that I’ve committed to doing a daily meditation. And if I don’t actually do it, I’ll have to come clean and tell you. And I’ll have broken my commitment to you. Have I mentioned that I’m a people pleaser?
2. Do it first thing in the morning. I’ve got no wise words to tell you how good it is for you to meditate first thing in your day. I’m sure you know all the reasons that I could list out anyway. Just do it. Only you can order your life in such a way as to make it happen.
3. Oh, there is no number three. It really is that simple.
But, that one little sitting meditation might not be the right kind of start for you. I like it because it’s just about sitting there comfortably, but not slouchy; being conscious of your body, and breathing. Easy.
But you might like something a little more introspective or spiritual or whatever. So here’s some resources I’ve seen recommended around the place.
https://www.headspace.com – this is where I’ll be heading to next. I’ll start with 30 days of my 4.5 minute sitting meditation and then come to headspace. I’ve just had a quick look at it now; it looks great. You might want to start here.
http://zenhabits.net/meditation-guide/ – Leo Babuta is the master of all things healthy, calm, mindful and habitual. You can’t go wrong with this primer of meditation for beginners. (I just prefer to listen to someone tell me what to do, rather than having to read it and then remember it while I shut my eyes and try to calm my mind… all the while my mind is racing with trying to remember what I just read about how to meditate!)
http://www.mindful.org/meditation-for-beginners-video/ – The first few minutes of this video give a nice intro to meditation and then you’re guided through a meditation. (Try not to be distracted by the lady talking, there’s something about her that makes me feel like she’s looking into my soul. :-/)
And there’s more, like, HEAPS more. Just google ‘meditation for beginners’ or something like that. You’ll be there for hours.
Feel free to share your experiences and any tips (or epiphanies!) in the comments below.
How did I go?
Day 7 – I’ve been going for a week now. And I don’t know what all the fuss was about. My fuss, that is. 😛
It’s really not difficult at all. In the early morning I just set aside five minutes to listen to the track. At the end of the five minutes it’s easy to spend another couple of minutes just sitting there not thinking of anything. I don’t know if I’m doing it right, and I don’t particularly care at the moment. At this stage I’m just wanting to get into the habit of doing it. I’ll worry about getting it ‘right’ later.
Day 8 – I had a bit of an epiphany last night. For whatever reason (read that as ‘because I was lazy’) I didn’t get round to doing my meditation until 7.30PM. And in hindsight, I really noticed that my mind was a hive of activity. I have this constant desire for mental stimulation (I entirely blame Facebook for this situation… oh and twitter, instagram, netflix, kindle, email… ) and I hadn’t realised how hard I find it to still my mind for long enough to think creatively. But after just a simple guided meditation my mind cleared and I was able to write… and think. I’m beginning to think that meditation may just be the best thing I’ve ever done.
Day 9 – I realised something this morning… for the last couple of times meditating I’ve struggled to keep my mind in check, to not be thinking about a million other things. So there’s not been a whole lot of ‘stilling my mind’ going on. I suppose that’s what they mean by practising meditation huh. We’re not going to get it right straight away.
But I suspect that one of the things that’s making it a little more difficult for me is that I’m listening to the same guided meditation. I’ve kinda tuned out to it now, it’s just background noise and that’s giving my mind time to wander. I’ll keep doing this one for a couple more days (because I think that’s the point of meditation; to learn how to control your mind and still it when you want to) but I might also look for some other guided meditations that I can rotate using for the rest of the 30 days.
Day 16 Oops, I mean Day 11 – Ummm yeah… so I fell off the bandwagon. For five days. :-/
This is exactly why I wanted to have this blog to help me through this. Knowing that there are others who would read about my progress and may even look to me for guidance, inspiration or just validation! See… I’m just normal. Not very good at sticking to things that I know are good for me; but wanting to be better, and willing to develop myself in order to be better.
Day 16 – I’m not gonna lie. I have been struggling with this. I don’t know why… actually, maybe I do know why.
Ever since my epiphany of two weeks ago, I’ve thought that I would get more benefit from meditating in the afternoon, when I need it more. In the morning, I’m already calm and my head is clear and I’m able to slide into writing pretty easily. So I’ve been doing that, not wanting to waste my precious morning time, I’ve been ‘saving’ my meditation for the afternoon/evening.
But… and I’m sure you saw this coming… but by the time the afternoon rolls around I feel almost panicked at the idea of having to do a meditation. I have just so much resistance to it.
I sit here with my headphones on, annoyed at my husband for making too much noise (like breathing… that’s too noisy), and my feet being cold and my neck a bit sore.
I struggle to get images out of my head. Images of clothes on the bedroom floor than need to be picked up, and dishes in the sink, and that eff’in report that was due at lunch time today but I still didn’t finish it so I’m going to have to go in early tomorrow and… it. goes. on.
I understand that this is what meditating is meant to help, but I think I’m not making it easy on myself.
So… back to the beginning. I am going to meditate in the morning. It’s easy, I’m open to it, and it’s quick. It’s not a struggle. And I’m trying to develop the habit first. Then I’ll work on the technique.
It feel a little bit pathetic to admit to all this. But I’m presuming (nay, HOPING) that I’m not the only one. Please pipe up if you’re the same! 🙂
Day Oh-I-Don’t-Know-But-I’ve-Just-Proven-That-I’m-Shite-At-This – Argghhh! Okay so I’ve confirmed that I suck at this. I’ve well and truly fallen off the wagon. But I’m not giving up, I’ll just start again. But this time I’m going to have some help along the way. I’ve joined up to www.headspace.com. They do a free 10-day trial; but at this point I’m pretty desperate (and embarrassed at being so slack at this) so if the first 10 days go well (i.e. I manage to actually do it) then I’m going to subscribe.
Day 1 – I’ve done day one and it’s really nice to be guided through a short meditation.
How are you going?
I’d love it if you’d share your experience with meditation in the comments below. Whether you’re a total newbie like me, or an experienced meditator who could offer us a few tips.