|I have noticed lately that there are more meditation classes and groups coming together. I like that because meditation Is one of the most useful practices I think we can develop. It calms our physiology, it invites creativity and inspiration, and it connects us to our inner wisdom and guidance. Unfortunately, when I mention it to clients, usually as an encouraging invitation, I often get “the look”.
The LOOK is what I give the dental hygienist when she reminds me to floss every day.
The benefits of meditation are well known and can be found everywhere. When I Googled it, over 14 million links came up. So if we know that meditation, like flossing, is good for us, why so much resistance to it?
I started to ask the question: Whazzup with the “look”?
The responses were similar:
1. No time, too busy.
2. Not good at it.
3. Frustrated. Can’t stop thinking.
Let’s pull this apart and see what is true.
1. Yes, you do have time. I guarantee it, trust me. All you need is 15 minutes a day and I spend more time than that on Candy Crush Saga. Do it when you want, where you want and how you want. A client reported she meditated in the bathroom at work during her lunch hour. It requires no special equipment (although I have found a lovely App I like called “Insight Timer”), and costs nothing but your time. I had a teacher who was an avid meditator for over 25 years. You could tell something was different about her. Even in the midst of a stress filled day she had an air of calm. She said there is really only one thing to remember about meditating: put your tush on the cush. Even after all that meditation she admitted there were times when she hated it and times when she was blissful. Overall, the rewards are great if we can get past the resistance and just do it.
It doesn’t always feel good, but learning to be with ourselves, tolerating the itchy discomfort gives us strength, not just for meditation, but for all the things in life that cause us discomfort. When it does feel good, we are rewarded and inspired to keep going.
The honest truth is that we always have time to do what we want to do. So why don’t we want to do it?
2. and 3. Resistance. We live in an age of high speed action and reaction. Our days are filled to overflowing with information technology. When it all stops and we are left with simply our bodies and our thoughts, it can be strange and foreign territory. When people tell me they have tried and they just can’t do it, I ask why? It all seems so simple. From what I understand there are several problems. First is the expectation that the first time the tush hits the cush, and every time after that, thoughts will stop and bliss will descend upon us. When that doesn’t happen, we judge ourselves, feel frustrated and give up. Meditation, like fine wine, needs time to mellow into a rich, full-bodied experience. It is a discipline, or as Rick Pezzullo says, it is like training a puppy. There will be quite a few chewed up slippers before we are trained. So try to let go of the belief you are not good at meditation, because none of us are. We just keep going until we begin to notice the we feel better, more peaceful, healthier, less frustrated. Meditation is not the goal…it is the vehicle for transformation. Healing is transformation and that is why I encourage my clients to meditate.
The myth that creates frustration when we sit to meditate, is that our minds will cease thinking as if by magic. NOT! Our minds think, our lungs breath and our hearts beat. That is the nature and purpose of the physiology. Thoughts will be there, but (this is important!) we are not our thoughts!
“WE” are actually an overseeing operating system of conscious awareness. The mind works for us, not the other way around. When we practice meditation, we are learning to listen to the deeper wisdom of consciousness, over and above the mind chatter. Our thoughts can be very seductive and while meditating we will, from time to time, find we have gone for a ride with them. My grandfather in his later years, would sit looking out his window and watch the people and traffic on Main Street. He observed, he didn’t run out and get into the cars. As you sit, imagine that thoughts are cars on Main Street. If a shiny red Ferrari grabbed you for a ride, notice and GENTLY bring your awareness back to your chair, your breath, your mantra, your blanket, whatever will help you focus in this moment. Keep practicing, and as you do, you will begin to notice longer stretches of empty “mindless” space. The puppy is learning to sit! A wise person once said that prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening. You might be surprised what you hear.
Advice that you didn’t ask for:
1. Decide to give yourself a decent period of time to really commit to a meditation practice. 30 days is a good place to start.
2. Find a place to sit. There can be a lot of “voodoo” around creating a space for your practice. For now, I encourage you to keep it simple and comfortable. It can be a cushion on the floor anywhere, a chair in the corner of a room, or the john at work.
3. Eliminate distractions. No phones, iPads, computers, or interruptions
that are within your power to prevent. Let your roommate, family members, cats and dogs, know not to disturb you. Shut the door. When it comes to meditation I am very Zen about it. I believe silence, unless you are chanting in your own voice, is optimal. You want to avoid anything that your mind can latch onto to amuse itself while you sit. That brings up the issue of guided meditations. I think they are wonderful tools, and imagery can be very healing. However, in my experience it is not the same as, or ever takes the place of silent meditation.
4. That’s it. You can embellish as you please. If you have time and inclination, start a journal of your practice so you can track your experience.