“Who the fuck can sit still for 10 minutes and do nothing?” That was my original response to meditation and on some days that thought rears its ugliness once again. The entire concept of meditation seems ridiculous to me; you sit in both silence and stillness – but you have to empty your mind and think of nothing… That’s not entirely true and we’ll go into that in a minute but it sounds impossible and boring.
As someone who finds peace through exercise, I found the whole thing unenticing and just… not my thing. Yoga, on the other hand, I can get behind. I don’t see my life without yoga and if I skip out on a few sessions, I can feel it. So, if I’m down with the yoga crew – should I be doing meditation? Although, I’m not completely into the yoga crew because I honestly just do what feels right by me and I find it hard to watch other yogis and feel inspired. They’re not living my life and can’t know what sort of attention I SHOULD be placing on yoga. However, I felt like this whole meditation thing sounded like something that could improve my quality of life. And that – I will always get behind.
I understand that there are great apps out there that you could use, I just don’t use them so I would feel wrong in recommending any after not experiencing them myself.
Where did meditation come from?
Unlike overpriced yoga pants worn by skinny white women, meditation wasn’t created to generate income.
I loved this SHORT article about the origins of meditation and it’s helpful to start with brief articles. When the topic is so broad you can easily get intimidated and abandon the task. Always learn at your own pace and be kind to yourself when learning a new skill, you don’t need to impress anyone but yourself. Meditation extends far past Buddhism and began as a way to bring humans peace thousands of years ago. It seemed to have been used as a tool in bringing your conscious and subconscious selves together.
What the fuck does that mean?
Have you ever heard the saying: “bring yourself towards yourself”? That’s the closest thing I can relate it to in Layman’s terms. Bringing yourself back to your original form and grounding yourself. When I’m overly stressed and just losing my grip on life; I feel like I’m floating and losing my roots. Meditation brings me back to my original self and calms me the fuck down. It was that feeling of coming back to the ground that had me hooked and birthed my terrible relationship with meditation.
Meditation: Where do I start?
Make sure your butt won’t fall asleep
Get comfortable and make sure finding comfort in your seat is not going to be a problem. Discomfort triggers a bunch of other distractions and you’ll give up a lot quicker if you’re uncomfortable. For beginners, I’d attempt your first try (and the 100 other attempts thereafter) post exercise so you don’t have a huge amount of excess energy getting in the way.
Set the mood
For me, it’s the smell of incense that calms me down and gets me ready for meditation. Smell is often attached to memory and the memories from incense are usually calming. It brings my energy to a manageable level and sets me right for what lies ahead. I dim the lights every night at around 9pm so my body starts to realize that it’s time for bed, incense has that effect on me in regards to meditation.
Find your mantra
You’ve seen or read Eat Pray Love, right? A mantra is a word or set of words that are used to clear/focus your mind and set that ‘empty’ tone you want to achieve. The most famous one is simply “OM” and I’m sure you’ve experienced a yoga class where the teacher is trying (in vain) to lead a shy class in the audible chant of “OOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM”. There is always one student that dedicates fully and almost deafens the rest of us. In meditation, the mantra is often repeated in your mind to help you settle into that ‘clear space’. My favourite is: “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” It just makes me feel like I’m not a total failure in my meditation practice and I am, in any minute way, progressing.
Be real and start small
If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t start your first training session by running the same distance as said marathon, right? So why would you start with a lengthy meditation session? During my Yoga Teacher Training, we started with only a few minutes and then slowly started to build on it every day. You cannot expect miracles on your first try and I’d really advise against aiming for the stars on this one. You will feel disheartened and give up – try avoiding that by being realistic with yourself.
Remember why you’re doing it and continue to learn
When it comes to yoga and meditation, I feel that Instagram has made it seem like you just come upon the skills in a matter of days. That’s both ridiculous and false advertising – if you see a ‘get Yoga Pro level in 30 days’ just run. You have to work on it every day and you always start from the bottom; you cannot expect to master a skill on your first try. To stay motivated, you need to keep learning from those with experience, keep looking up the benefits and learn new ways to help yourself over the tough bits.
I’ve prepared this small graphic for those that need the little reminders, feel free to save it to your phone and whip it out whenever you need a reminder of where to start.
Meditation is not an overnight adventure, you need to grow in small increments and understand that some days will be better than others. Let’s face it… some days are better than others – and meditation is no exception.