Meditation is something I wanted to do for a long time. For some reason I was scared of taking the plunge and beginning on this new journey. Little did I know that I had been doing a form of meditation all along....
The flirting stage: I grew up Catholic and was very familiar with prayer. Even as a young person I felt a certain connection to the quiet time spent alone, focusing on people we love, strength we hope to receive & needs we wish to have help meeting. In my adult life I began my yoga practice and it turned me onto the word meditation. For some reason I put meditation on a pedestal. Automatically thinking it would be something only well-practiced yogis could achieve. For many years, joking about meditation and levitation is as far as I progressed. It didn't help that the literature I was reading & the false voices inside were telling me that I wasn't ready for meditation.
The plunge: I found so much peace & self-acceptance with yoga & the lifestyle it brought me, but that word meditation continued to just be a word. I'd worry that one day my yoga students would ask me about my meditation practice & I would be standing there like a deer in headlights. So I decided to reach up to that pedestal & bring meditation down to my level. I did some light research & it seemed pretty simple. (AT THIS POINT IF YOU HAVE'T DONE THAT RESEARCH, SEARCH AROUND THE WEB FOR 5 MINUTES & COME BACK HERE). And it was...but the hard part was not to be hard on myself when it came letting thoughts in, sitting still & the amount of time I spent meditating.
Then I realized it's just like yoga in the fact that the joy is in the journey. Some days will feel great triumphs & others will be spend making grocery lists in our heads. Some will bring tears of joy & others will be spend wondering how much time as passed.
Finding the right tools: A little over a year ago I saw an ad for Deepak Chopra & Oprah's free 21 day meditation challenge. I was immediately intriuged and signed up. Every morning for 21 days I received an email with a mantra & an explanation. I had finally found a meditation style I could get down with! I kept with it as much as I could and began to notice the effects in my day to day. A lot of that beginners stress was about getting comfortable with something new. A lot of the positivity I was experiencing was about meeting meditation where I was & taking it off the pedestal.
My tips to take meditation off the pedestal: Find a quiet space. Make it your sacred space (see mine below). Fill it with love, beauty & acceptance (mentally, but if you like, actual things that make your heart smile). Find a comfortable place to sit (I prefer a cushion on the floor). Some may find it easier to lay down at first. If you're sitting on the floor, root into the earth. If you're seated on a chair, feel your feet rooting close your eyes. Let your spine lengthen like there is a string pulling the crown of your head towards the ceiling. Close your eyes. Find your breath. Using a self-made mantra or one you've found somewhere else, begin to slowly and gently repeat it in your head & correspond with your breath. Find a comfortable cadence. Be okay with thoughts that come & go. Start with a short achievable length of time & build when you're ready. There is no wrong way. Release unreal expectations for yourself. Enjoy this quiet time.
TIPS FROM DEEPAK
Because we are alive, thoughts, feelings, and sensations in our bodies are a normal part of our human experience—even while meditating. Here are a few tips to support your experience:
Take a deep breath: When you have thoughts and sensations during meditation, just be with them. Then, take a moment to notice your breath. Allow your breathing to gently bring you back to center.
Gentle acceptance: Rest into knowing that your experience is perfect as it is . . . there is no destination other than noticing the present moment in silence. See your thoughts without judgment—just allow them to drift across your mind much like the clouds in the sky.
Return to the mantra: Once you realize that you are involved with your thoughts and are no longer repeating the mantra, simply return your awareness back to the mantra and continue repeating it, just mentally. As you engage in the practice in this way, after a little bit of time, the mantra and thoughts will begin to cancel each other out.
I hope this info helps you on your journey! If you have any questions, please ask! The 21 day challenge is in its first week right now. Sign up to jump on the bandwagon!