I used to think that meditation was just sitting on the floor cross legged with your eyes closed pretending to be all super zen, whatever that means. It used to be torturous. I’d sit on the floor, eyes closed, waiting for my mind to quiet and to feel relaxed. I’m mean, wasn’t that the point? Then I thought, maybe it’s not about quiet but supposed to be some ecstatic life altering, mind shattering experience. So I sat, closed my eyes… nothing. Well, there actually was a lot going on: my thoughts jumped around endlessly like squirrels who lost their nuts, my feet and legs became numb, and I felt really frustrated that I couldn’t meditate “properly.” So I stopped “meditating” until I underwent yoga teacher training.
I learned that meditation isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. There are SO MANY techniques and tips to make it more accessible for everyone. The biggest barrier to an effective practice? It’s what our minds tell us is “wrong” with what we are doing – and us actually listening to those stories. I learned that even the great yogic sages struggled with learning to quiet their minds to they could reach those ecstatic epiphanies. Even the sages struggled?!? Perhaps had had been doing it “right” all along? The various techniques I learned all, in their own unique way, help to quiet the mind just a little more so that you can begin to move toward a meditative state. It’s not instant, and sometimes it doesn’t last long, sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. But part of the practice of meditation is learning to be okay with all of that.
One of the easiest techniques is called Yoga Nidra. It literally means yogic sleep, and it is a guided meditation that you listen to while laying down. My favorite method is japa mala. It is the recitation of a mantra (silent or out loud), using a mala/rosary necklace as your method of counting.
I still struggle occasionally. I mean, I’m human after all. But I have found even just sitting on my meditation cushion brings me a little bit more peace in my heart, even if I think the meditation session was not successful in some way.
Have you wanted to begin a personal meditation practice? I will be leading a 3-week mini series on meditation. Over the three sessions we will discuss what meditation is, and what it is not. We will explore the benefits of a regular meditation practice, as well as the perceived barriers to an effective meditation practice. We will learn a sample of different techniques and have the opportunity to practice them. Each class will have a discussion component followed by a meditation experience. Spoiler alert: because it’s my favorite, we will be visiting the japa mala technique. If you are interested, see the link for more information and to register here.
In love and light,