Meditation can be an uncomfortable thing to consider or practice for many. There can be preconceived notions or beliefs about meditation that make the idea of it scary, unachievable or just seem down-right weird. But in actual practice you can find a way to meditate that will work for you, your life style, time constraints and beliefs that will be safe and effective.
Why meditate? Simple, it has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, which increases health, balance and enjoyment of life. Who does not want to be happier and healthier? It is also a powerful tool for self-discovery, self-care and personal growth.
So how can we unweave some of the odd things you have seen or heard about meditation? Let me help demystify the concept of meditation for you a bit:
You do not have to meditate for any specific amount of time to see benefits. Even 2 minutes of meditation can have a powerful and positive impact on your life.
Meditation does not have to be religious or conflict with your personal beliefs, no matter what your beliefs are.
Meditation is not something that you may immediately enjoy, find easy or see radical benefits from. You can’t do one sit up and then expect to have ripped abs. Meditation is a practice that needs to be consistently performed and developed into a habit before you will see the full benefits and enjoyment of it. Learning to quiet the mind and sit still can be very hard for some, yet I promise it is achievable for EVERYONE (even those with ADD, ADHD, racing thoughts or even OCD).
I was introduced to meditation when I was 5 years old. I have studied many forms of meditation, developed my own personal meditation practice and taught meditation to thousands of people around the world. So let me help you understand meditation a bit more from my perspective.
I like to describe meditation is ‘marinating’ on something, something within that is silent. Those of you who cook may have an understanding of this, especially when it comes to grilling steaks. For any vegetarians…I lovingly respect you and I am not sorry, it’s an effective example so please try to relate in…
Say you are grilling a steak; most people will marinate the meat or let it sit submerged in something for a predetermined period of time in order that the meat will soak up as much of the marinade as possible (for flavor). Fully marinating and submerging meat in the marinade causes an environment where the meat can fully soak the marinade into every part of the meat…even all the way into the center. Why? So the steak can be transformed into the best and most flavorful version of itself. Do you get the analogy? Sweet!
Meditation is a ‘dropping in’ or ‘checking in’ to being completely present with oneself. We spend so much time in motion, in doing, meditation helps us to learn to be. To be present with oneself and to tap into a connection to something greater. This something greater can be anything you define it as…nature, energy, God, the Divine, Spirit, the collective unconscious, the universe or even simply ‘love’.
If prayer is talking to that higher thing, then
meditation could be called listening.
When we meditate we are marinating in being, in our relationship with self and also the relationship with that higher thing. When we take the time to marinate, we soak it up. That gives us flavor!
Meditation can be focused on a specific religious or spiritual alignment or it can be completely focused on relaxation and ‘emptying the mind’. The choice is yours.
There is a form of meditation that will feel safe and comfortable for you. That is the one to choose. However, discovering the most effective form of meditation will take a commitment on your part to experimenting, paying attention to the feedback within yourself and making adjustments.
Beginning to meditate…
‘Where do I start??? There are so many options and opinions about how to do it right’! I invite you to let that belief go. There is no one way to meditate. There is no one way that is right or wrong. The best advice I can give you is to begin to meditate in any way you want. Start where you are and grow from there.
Do some searches for meditations and guided meditations, and watch a few. Try the ones that interest you. See what helps you begin to connect with your internal landscape.
Here is a simple meditation that I teach –
Find a comfortable place to sit down where you won’t be interrupted.
Turn off your phone ringer.
Close your eyes.
Focus your attention on your breath.
Begin to deepen your breath.
Breath deep relaxed breaths versus forced breaths.
Give yourself permission to let your thoughts float by without engaging in them.
Any time you find yourself thinking or becoming distracted, simply and lovingly bring your focus back to your breath.
Continue to just BE and focus on your breathing.
Do this for as long as or as short of an amount of time as you would like.
When you are done, congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and investment in yourself. It is not helpful to critique or judge your meditation. Simply pay attention to the internal feedback that arises after and make adjustments to your next meditation session.
Remember to give your meditation muscles a chance to grow strong through regular practice. Some of the benefits you may experience after you practice consistently are; less stress, increased health, decreased illness, peaceful thought life, better ability to deal with difficult people, places and situations, more mindfulness in all areas of your life, a deeper understanding of yourself, spiritual growth and more general happiness.
Be patient with yourself and the process.
It is worth the investment of time and energy!