I wanted to write briefly about about my meditation practice and how it has evolved. I’m a beginner meditator, for sure, and I’m hoping some of the things I’ve learned starting out will inspire/help some of you on your meditation journeys. First, a brief history of my meditation practice to give you some reference.
October-December of 2013 I sat in on some guided meditation sessions. Theses were great and gave me a taste of what was to come. They were always a bit different, but always 30 minutes each. This was done at a local yoga/meditation center. The facilitator was great and experienced and I always left feeling calm. After December I quit attending those for various reasons, none really worth mentioning here.
I took a break from any lengthy meditation until the last week in April of 2014 when I watched a meditation conference online via entheos.com. This conference was FULL of incredible speakers and a lot of “ah-ha” moments for me. While watching these interviews (with people like Seane Corn, Dan Siegel, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Mallika Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein and others) one of the things I realized is that I had been dropping in and out of mindful meditation throughout the day for at least 2 weeks and didn’t even realize it! (I used to do this while I was meditating in October-December last year, but I think everything kind of slacked off due to some personal stuff and the holidays.)
Mindful Meditation can be done at any time, anywhere. You don’t have to close your eyes, you don’t even have to be completely still. You can practice mindful meditation while sitting at a red light like I did. I sat and looked out my car window at the beauty of Spring happening all around me. As I walked outside I looked at the beauty surrounding me and focused on the thoughts and feelings (both emotionally and physically) that this beauty produced.
You can practice Mindful Meditation while making dinner, folding clothes, washing dishes, or sitting at a bus stop – really! Being fully present in the moment and not allowing your mind to run off with you is really what mindfulness is all about. When you’re peeling a potato (hate peeling potatoes btw!), bathing your child, brushing your teeth or taking a shower, BE present. Notice the sensations on the skin, notice the details in what your eyes are perceiving. Notice the feelings/thoughts that arise with each moment and then let them pass. Thoughts themselves are not bad or wrong and for most people they will continue to come. The practice is not letting yourself get carried away by them.
Thoughts never come alone. For example, one minute I’m laying in Savasana enjoying the physical stimulation, then I’m thinking about taking a nap, then about how I don’t have time for a nap because of my to-do list, then I think about stuff on my to-do list and before I know it I’m planning my 10 year wedding anniversary trip!
The other big thing I took away from the mediation conference is something that Mallika Chopra talked about. She said that she goes through times where she doesn’t meditate, and over the years her practice has changed to fit her current lifestyle. For example, she doesn’t get up in the morning to meditate anymore because of her and her children’s schedules. She is just too tired to get up so early. Now, she practices in the afternoon with her children. This might not sound like a breakthrough moment to you, but when I realized I didn’t have to get up at 5am to mediate, I felt so relieved! I’d heard so many people talking about meditation being a morning practice to prepare you for the day ahead that I had gotten stuck in that line of thinking. Once I was able to let that go and realized it was “ok” to practice later in the day I started my sitting practice in the evenings after my daughter had gone to bed.
I did my first solo seated meditation on May 4th with the help of Rod Stryker via yogaglo.com. He is amazing and I highly recommend checking him out. He has a 10 minute meditation on the breath that I used and it was great. For a few nights following that I sat and used other guided meditations on yogaglo. After about a week of that I quit using the guided meditations and just turned on some meditation music on Pandora. (It’s worth noting that I pay for Pandora and therefore don’t have commercials. Please do not attempt to meditate with Pandora on if you have to listen to commercials, they will be jarring and distracting!)
I started sitting for just about 5-10 minutes. Eventually I would go for 15-20 minutes, then up to 30 minutes. My favorite time is right around 20 minutes. I don’t really time myself. If I’m right up against 10pm and want to go to sleep, I turn on an alarm on my phone with a very gentle alarm tone. Once it goes off I wind down my meditation and come out slowly. It’s really jarring and not at all fulfilling or peaceful to have to jump right up out of your meditation. My recommendation for this is that you don’t put a time limit or goal on yourself. And if the idea of sitting still and trying to still your mind freaks you out, try some mindful mediation first. Google is full of good websites that will give you more mindfulness tips, and Deepak Chopra has a huge website full of info if you don’t trust Google.
I will tell you that some nights I can’t get my mind to shut up. On nights like this I notice it, don’t force the quiet, and just go with the flow. Sometimes it turns into more of a prayer. Other times I know that I can’t quiet my mind because I’m not grounded. There were a couple weeks in a row in late July/early August that my seated meditation consisted of just grounding my energy to the Earth. I sit and place my palms on the floor and literally ground myself down into the Earth’s energy with intention. There are a few other things I do, which I would be happy to share! Shoot me an email and I’ll respond individually firstname.lastname@example.org.
The benefits of mediation are many, but I’ll share a few personal ones here.
- More patience, and with a 3 year old there can never be enough!
- More confidence
- Feelings of Peace and connectedness
- Self-forgiveness and love
- Acceptance of things I have no control over
- Feeling grounded
Please don’t think this is an exhaustive list of meditation techniques. Check out Deepak Chopra’s site for more info. Or give Google a whirl – type in things like, Transcendental Meditation, Vipassana, Mindful Meditation, or Trāṭaka. There are so, so many. Try a few to see what works for you!
Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite technique? If you want to, but don’t, why not? Even 2 minutes of sitting still and breathing can have benefits. <3