If you’re really good at sitting still and focusing on one thing at a time, maybe you don’t need to meditate. If you’re patient and kind, even when someone cuts you off intentionally, maybe meditation won’t help you. If you are never snarky or say something you don’t mean, even when you’re hungry or tired, maybe meditation won’t make a difference in your life.
I need to meditate.
When meditation came up during a lunch with my friends the other day, the response was positive and wistful.
“They say you should do that.”
“I always mean to start a meditation practice.”
“I’ve done it before, but I never have time.”
“I tried it once.”
I’ve said all of these things before, too. Historically, I would start a meditation practice every New Year, and each time it came up as a topic in a yoga class. I would begin those 10, 21, or 30-day meditation challenges that you see on social media. Sometimes I finished them. Sometimes I started them and then forgot about them until I received an email reading “Congratulations! You’ve reached the last week of the meditation challenge!” Whoops.
When I meditated, I enjoyed it. Just kidding. I enjoyed how I felt afterward. But who has time to sit still for that long? Then again, when you look at the benefits of meditation — decreased stress and anxiety, increased kindness, increased concentration, slowing aging, improving sleep, increasing optimism…the list goes on…Who doesn’t have the time?
Who can afford not to spend 5, 10, or 20 minutes a day improving almost every aspect of their lives?
I’ve become one of “those people” who meditate. But even with a regular practice, I still sometimes just think of things on my to-do list. In fact, I keep a piece of paper in my meditation space so I can write those things down (pay bills, return email… etc.). Sometimes I stop, frustrated, turn off my meditation timer and go start doing whatever it is that I need to do.
Meditation isn’t about perfection. Thank goodness!
The great secret, for me, was doing it consistently — every. d*mn. day. Then I started to see the benefits. I began to quiet my mind and listen to what my body and my intuition were trying to tell me. I started noticing my mood shift when I had skipped my meditation for a few days. I am less stressed generally. I recognize when my thoughts are spinning out of control in the midst of a stressful moment or toddler tantrum. I learned to come back to my breath and reset my thoughts when I start getting anxious or stressed.
So, here are the secrets:
There’s no wrong way to meditate.
Just do it.
There’s no magic amount of time that you have to meditate; it’s okay to start small.
You can skip a day (or more). Just come back to it.
It’s okay to have thoughts. If you aren’t having thoughts, you’re probably dead. So go ahead and have those thoughts.
You don’t need a sacred place.
You don’t require 25 hours in your day, either.
You don’t even have to sit still. You can meditate while walking or drinking coffee.
That’s right. I said you could drink coffee and meditate.
I meditate because I am not a person who sits still and quiets her mind easily.
Imagine a monkey snorting a line of pixie sticks. And that the monkey likes techno music, strobe lights, and jumping on trampolines. That monkey = my thoughts. Meditation helps calm my sugar rave monkey. After a few minutes, I can become focused and present. When a session is over, I feel like a weight has been lifted. I am breathing easier. My face and my body relax. Sometimes solutions to problems come to me during meditation. My brain taps into that hazy space between awake and asleep — as if in a dream, or in the middle of the night — where you realize the answer to a question that has been bugging you or think of something that you thought you’d forgotten.
It’s a twilight space that is far more intuitive and centered than my normal, hectic life.
You know, like the sugar rave monkey decided to sit down, put on his smoking jacket, and start reading by the fire while enjoying an aged small-batch bourbon.
I’ve never thought, “wow, I really wish I hadn’t wasted my time meditating for 10 minutes,” because I always feel better afterward—even on the days that I cut it short.
So, how can you start meditating? I’ll have more tips next month. (Sign up for email updates, here, if you don’t want to miss a post!) In the meantime, here are several meditations to help you get started.
These links will take you to the Insight Timer App page. The app is free and easy to use (although you can pay for a few added features). You can also access these meditations on your computer. No 30-day challenge here, just a few quick meditations that you can do anywhere that will help you get in the habit of meditating consistently.
- Remember when I said that you could meditate while drinking coffee? You’re welcome. http://insig.ht/gm_1556
- You can do anything for one minute. http://insig.ht/gm_156
- When you realize one minute is too short, here’s a five-minute meditation. http://insig.ht/gm_11
- If you’re really into multi-tasking, here’s a walking meditation so you can get your steps in, too. http://insig.ht/gm_54
I hope these help you and best of luck to you as you start, or continue, your meditation practice!
Wishing you a few moments of clarity amidst the chaos,
Do you have a meditation practice? What do you love about it? If you don’t have a meditation practice, what has held you back? What roadblocks have you faced? I’d love to know! Email or comment below.
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