“Every day, set the simple goal of being more awake and less distracted.” – Russel Simmons
Happy Friday readers! I was not planning on doing a blog post today, but I was very inspired by my sister. She text me today and asked me for some help starting a meditation practice. This got me all sorts of excited and figured this kind of information should be shared with all of you!
First off, what is meditation? Yogi Bhajan said meditation is “when you empty yourself and let the universe come in you.” Through meditation, we become aware of ourselves and aware of the universe. We become a witness, outside of our body and our mind and our emotions. This is where we are able to learn the true nature of who we are, apart from the material suffering that plagues us. Sounds good right? Let’s get started!
No idea how to get started? I know it can be intimidating. You seriously want me to sit still for that long without thinking about anything? That’s hilarious! Don’t worry; I still struggle with this too. I am no meditation master. AT ALL. My anxious, little thoughts creep in so fast and suddenly I am lost in a world of dinner plans, work drama, and how I should be decorating my meditation space. Start small. Try to start with ten minutes in silence a day. However, finding silence is sometimes difficult, so here are some great ways to get started:
- Guided meditations. I still do these most mornings to give me something to focus on. There are a number of guided practices on youtube and other websites. You may want to do some research as to which ones fit with your needs. This is also a great way to direct your meditation towards a given theme, such as forgiveness, strength, self-confident, etc. Here are a few links I’ve enjoyed:
- Focus. Focusing all your attention on one thing can help to pave a path to a clear mind and is less intimidating than simply “emptying the mind”. The focus can be place on anything. You can stare at a candle flame or beautiful picture for ten minutes, count your inhales and exhales, or become engulfed in the rhythm of some music. When you lose your concentration, simply forgive yourself and re-focus on whatever you have chosen to give your attention.
- Guide yourself. Sometimes the best meditations I have were guided by my own needs. Where do I want to be right now and what do I want to be experiencing? I may wonder into a field of flowers with a warm mist of rain, dancing around and laughing in my momentary freedom. Or I may picture myself finishing that goal, receiving the praise I have been craving, or discovering something new. It’s whatever you want it to be. There is no right or wrong way to do meditation.
Create a consistency with your practice. When and where will you meditate?
- When? I believe the easiest time to practice meditation is first thing in the morning. Our minds are mostly empty from the long sleep from the night before and we are not burdened by the events of the day. I have a hard time not falling asleep if I meditate right away, so I usually take a shower and sometimes practice some yoga prior to taking a seat on my meditation pillow. However, I know others who do not like morning meditation and would rather take the time to meditate right after they get home, as a way to shift from work to home life. Others love to clear their mind before bed, which is especially great for insomniacs like me! I try to meditate for at least five minutes each morning and as needed at night time.
- Where? Find a place in your home that you can go to that is quiet, clutter-free, and feels right to you. Make your environment comfortable and make it your own. Grab a comfy pillow or blanket you can sit on (a chair is great too!), maybe light your favorite candle and play some calming music (especially if it is difficult to find a peaceful silence within your home). It does not need to be extravagantly decorated with Buddhist sculptures and prayer flags, although you are welcome to do so! You may find in time that you are drawn to certain items in your space that inspire you, but there is no need to rush this.
Try active meditation practices. Anything that allows you to become focused and stills your mind can be considered a meditative practice. You could take a quiet morning walk, allowing your mind to focus on the beauty of nature and the gifts that surround you. Maybe you find your meditation in an art practice, by doodling a mandala, painting abstract designs along a canvas, or molding a new figurine. Maybe it is through a new gardening project or whatever it is that suites you! Meditation is merely the act of stepping back and becoming the witness. We experience a meditative state through self-awareness and becoming disengaged from our thoughts, body, and emotions.
No judgments. You may not get to meditate every day. You may not get that pesky grocery list to disappear in today’s practice. You may not feel connected to any of the guided meditations you’ve tried and are becoming frustrated. I cannot stress this enough: let it go! There is no perfect way to find yourself. If you are trying, let that be enough. Take pride in the fact that you are doing something wonderful for yourself and, in turn, helping those around you. Also, you should never allow yourself to feel guilty when doing something good for you. It is not selfish, because through your transformation you will be able to better assist those around you. Enjoy it. It may not be easy today; it may not be easy tomorrow. It is a journey, and a great one at that!
I can guarantee you that if you make the choice to start meditating, the tools you need will come to you. You have to be patient and open to accepting the help of others and the universe. A Course in Miracles has a great prayer that I have started implementing at the beginning of my practice. It goes as follows:
“Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say? And to whom?”
Trust that if you are truly looking for something, you will find it. Be open minded to the suggestion of others. If a book practically calls out to you, falls into your basket at the bookstore, read it! If someone encouraged you to seek out a great teacher, listen to them. The universe wants to guide you; please be ready to listen.
Have a lovely weekend beautiful people! – Taryn xoxo