Ready, set, meditate!
Thousands of years ago yogi’s practiced asana to still the mind and prepare the body for meditation. Today, millions have turned to yoga for physical, spiritual and emotional healing and health. With the physical practice in the spotlight, meditation seems to have become an activity we can engage in IF we have time after our asana practice. Or maybe after we go grocery shopping, after we finish this project or after we make dinner. In my personal experience, “after” usually turns into tomorrow, which turns into eventually and before I know it a week has passed and I still haven’t gotten around to it.
It’s easy to find excuses in our busy and overstimulated lives. We’ve become so accustomed to going going going that the moment we stop, we feel guilty for taking a break. The idea that we need to be getting something done or checking another task off the to-do list lingers until we get back to work.
My suggestion? Put meditation on your to-do list! Even if it’s only for five minutes. Give yourself that sacred time to connect with your breath and rest in silence. You’ll be amazed at what you can hear when you attempt to quiet your mind. A repercussion of rushing through the day is suppressed feelings and not giving adequate attention to relationships and situations. Giving yourself the time and permission to sit still for a few minutes everyday will bring a new awareness to your patterns and habits. Thoughts (a lot of them!) will begin to surface. Observe these thoughts and let them pass. Instead of judgement, look for openness and equanimity. Remember that meditation is a practice and requires an abundance of patience. Recognize that the state of your mind is in a constant flux. The experience you have today will not be the experience you have tomorrow. So, have faith that if one meditation practice was daunting and painful, there is always hope for a better experience next time!
Here are a few tips for meditation– these will help you establish and maintain a meditation practice.
1.) Add it to the “To-Do” list.
If you’re a fan of lists (I personally LOVE them) then make sure meditation is on there. It will be easier to hold yourself accountable and will become an activity as routine as paying the bills, grocery shopping and taking the dog for a walk. Assure yourself, you do have time!
2.) Start small.
Five minutes. Hold yourself to five minutes for your first few attempts. It doesn’t sound like a long time until you’re sitting there mentally noting all the things you “should” be doing. Eventually, five minutes goes by in an instant and you can start adding on time. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes…. I know it sounds crazy now but the more you practice the easier it becomes.
3.) Time & Place.
Although you can practice meditation anywhere, try to pick a specific time of the day and place to sit with your thoughts. It might help to create a tiny alter with objects and photos that have special meaning for you. Meditating in the same spot will help create positive energy in that space and urge you to come back for continued contemplation.
4.) Be Patient.
Sitting still is hard work! Our minds aren’t accustomed to it and therefore don’t particularly like it when we try to coax them into stillness. Be patient and keep working at it.
5.) Explore Techniques.
There are oodles of meditation practices to choose from! Deep breathing, guided, visualization, and mantra are all forms of meditation. Have some fun researching different techniques and see what works best for you.
I would love to hear your advice, techniques and other tips for meditation. Has meditation worked for you? How has it changed your life? Stay tuned for more posts the take us beyond the asana practice. Don’t worry, we’ll definitely still be breaking down yoga poses and having fun on the mat! Wishing you light, love and aloha!