I had a lot of fun this weekend teaching an intro to meditation class (thanks so much to those who attended.) As always, with teaching, I was reminded of the basics and today’s post is about developing a new relationship with some of the common challenges to a meditation practice. Happy sitting! Or, walking, dancing, folding laundry…
1. Making time.
One of the biggest challenges for serenity seekers in this hyper connected world is “finding” down time. The secret to this is realizing that we have all the downtime we need, we just have to claim it. Chances are, there’s something else we’re prioritizing when we say we’d love to do something, but, we can’t. When it comes to meditation, we don’t have to be elaborate and the experieince doesn’t have to be time consuming. If 15 minutes (or 5) is what you can give to yourself-uninterupted- each day then that is what you work with. Try this easy centering practice to get started: Inhale to the count of 4, pause at the top of your breath, then exhale to a count of 6, pause at the bottom of the exhale and repeat the cycle for however long you have.
2. Another common challenge is the belief that we’re supposed to control the mind monkeys.
There is a zoo in most minds and the critters are loose and hungry. Very hungry. So many meditators get stuck trying to control an untamed mind. If this is you, then keep these tips in mind: seasoned meditators also struggle at times with excessive mental chatter. The mind is designed to be busy figuring things out for us. It will continue to do what it does. The skill comes in learning to sit still and experience calm or work at a task with focus or be in the middle of external chaos witout being distracted and overwhelmed by our own thoughts. I’m simplifying things but if you keep in mind that the goal is not necessarily to make your mind stop thinking but to be able to maintain your own center while your mind is racing on with it’s interpretation of the world then you may feel less pressure when you begin your meditation.
Meditation is a practice. Some people have an easy time with being still. For the rest of us, it takes practice, patience and a desire to develop discipline. I used to despise the word discipline, it usually implied punishment of some kind. But, the word has also meant – to learn or study – and that definition makes sense to me. Whether it is discipline applied to strength training or learning to speak a new language or complete a dgree of study, the process is the same at the core: we are learning self mastery. With meditation, it’s the same, we are learning how to overcome our desire to be distracted, to quit when we are frustrated. We are also learning to become clear about what we want in our day to day experience and how we want to show up and be in the world. These things take practice and dedication and.
So, if you’ve been craving calm then choose a time each day to put these steps into practice. Make yourself a priority and commit to 21 days. Let me know, in the comments below, how this goes for you.