So... Do you still suck at Meditation?
Where do you stand (or sit) as we draw close to the end of this 30-day exploration of mindfulness? We've enjoyed people lingering after group classes to try the teacher lead mindfulness practices. Some took advantage of the meditation room that we set up in the small studio. The visits to our blog have increased with each of our posts this month. And several have admitted that they have not quite gotten off the starting line to establish a meditation practice. I know that I started out very strong and then fell off of the meditation wagon. I have brushed myself off and gotten back on the wagon. From this experience, I would like to offer a few pieces of advice and invite everyone to continue to work to build a meditation practice.
Keep with it! If you need to start a new meditation practice or restart a regular meditation practice, today is the day. I love the Rumi quote that Stephanie included in her blog. It acknowledges that these practices, while simple, are not always easy. In fact “failing” is very easy, but even when you do fail all you have to do is start again.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times before. Come, yet again, come, come.
Set a concrete plan for how you want to continue your practice. Set a general intention for your practice and figure out how to move in that direction. Elliot's post said that he wanted to meditate more with his heart than with his head. When I read that, I wondered if he has ever practicing
The tactical organization of your practice plan will help you. What, when and where you practice is important. Do you have tools? Find a book, a candle, a meditation cushion or a location that makes you feel at ease.
I think the prevailing wisdom is that morning is the best time to practice. That being said, I am in love with my snooze button. No matter how early I wake up, I always seem to be in a rush to get myself and my family out the door to start the day. Morning does not work for me. However, scheduling a time with yourself will help you show up. If you have promised yourself 2:00 on Monday is meditation time, then don’t stand yourself up. Show yourself the same courtesy that you would show your hair stylist, doctor or co-worker. If you make the appointment, then show up. Here are some things to consider when setting your appointment time, from Meditation Made Easy by Stephanie Brookes:
• The Morning Meditator: You are relaxed and already predisposed to the meditative state. Your mind is yet to be cluttered by the stresses of the day. You are less likely to be interrupted by phone calls and emails as the demands of the day have yet to begin.
• The Midday Meditator: It acts as a midday break and can help you to navigate the rest of your day calmly and with more focus. It is a constructive use of your time, particularly if your evenings are busy or mornings are not an option. You can choose to meditate with a friend or a colleague and enjoy the benefits of meditating with others.
• The Evening Meditator: You can spend more time creating a meditation ritual and so extend your meditation period to suit your personal needs. You will feel calmer and less stressed as you unwind from the activity of the day. You can realistically factor in a practice by assigning yourself 5-10 minutes before you go to sleep.
Don’t be attached to the practice or the results. Kayla's piece laid out the stress reducing benefits of a meditation practice. If you Google benefits of mindfulness, you will find article after article on the positive effects of these practices. Once you have an idea of why you should be meditating, let it go. Try not to say, I am meditating because I want to be more X, or feel less Y, or improve my Z. For a moment, give up the anticipation of the result. Even if you have heard that meditation practices can retrain the mind, give up the image of that super fit and super efficient mind and just do the exercise for the sake of the exercise.
The practice that Kayla suggested is a great place to start for those of you that have said that you don’t meditate because you suck at it or that there is no way to train your wild mind. The instruction is simple: imagine if you could simply be the screen and not the movie playing. You could be able to recognize these stories as they arise, label them thinking or emotion or sensation, and so find greater rest, greater self-awareness. Don’t be attached to your judgments, preconceived notions about how the practice should go and where it will take you.
Ellen Degeneres did a bit on meditation in one of her stand up acts. She would set herself up in a comfortable seat, in a quiet space. After a few moments her mind would eventually shift to repeating a jingle from a deodorant commercial. I wonder if Ellen has read Leslianna's post yet? Start with the ridiculous minimum. Sit down and start to watch your breath for a few minutes. When the deodorant jingle starts, identify it as a jingle and return to your breath. We all have our own mental patters: an ear worm, a jingle, a song, the troubled relations ship that we have to keep analyzing, the justification of a certain action, the regret of another action, the hole that we are trying to fill.
Starting a practice is simple, but not easy. All you can do is make a plan, work at it and then let go a little. We do hope you've enjoyed the challenge.
Interested in continuing to dive deep with practice? Join us this Fall and Winter for workshops to refine, demystify and empower where you're at. Check out the Workshops page for all the details.