Everybody could use a chance to do nothing, want nothing and be nothing. Trust me, you do. Don’t get me wrong. This is not in the sense of giving up on your life but more like surrendering to the present moment and not thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
Easier said than done, right? Right. Is it rocket science? Not at all.
To many, meditation is considered to be this mysterious thing practiced by monks or people with some sort of super power who spend most of their days sitting cross-legged in a cave. I hate to burst your bubble but this is not true.
Meditation is simply a training of attention. It’s where you step out of your habitual thinking and bring your attention to your breath, any other meditation object or you just observe the present moment. Whether you decide to travel to the Himalayas and meditate on top of a mountain or you just sit in a corner in your room, it’s what happens inside you during your practice that matters.
Many schools, prisons, addiction facilities and mental institutions are starting to include meditation as part of their program. The reason behind this is not because meditation is trending these days but because meditation holds countless benefits that can really change someone’s life.
Why do people meditate? There are the obvious reasons like stress, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, trauma etc. Developing a meditation practice can be very beneficial to get over such personal issues especially if they’re getting in the way of your daily life. Even sitting for 10 minutes every day can make a difference. Another reason people meditate for is to dig deeper. Remember Rafiki, the wise baboon from The Lion King? Remember when he asked Timon to look beyond what he sees? That was one good piece of advice. When I was first introduced to Yoga and meditation I had to go back and watch the full movie. It was then that it all started to make sense to me. The meditation breaks Rafiki takes is where he gets all of his wisdom. I can talk about this movie forever but the point I’m trying to make is this: some answers are found within.
When you spend time getting in touch with yourself, revealing the nature of who you are and discovering your basic goodness you start shifting the way you look at everything in life. This will not happen over night. Consistency, like in any other type of training, is necessary.
Maybe my first meditation experience will enlighten you: I was feeling very stressed at the time. I had a lot going on and I felt like my life was falling apart. So I decided to try and meditate. I had no idea what it was like. I only knew I had to sit cross-legged, bringing my index fingers and thumbs together and close my eyes. So, I found a nice spot in my room, lit a couple of candles and proceeded to sit on my floor. For the first 5 minutes, I was trying to find a comfortable seated position. I started in Padmasana (Lotus pose) because that’s what people do in pictures but I couldn’t hold it for 10 seconds. I decided to sit cross-legged, like I do sometimes when watching TV, and stayed there for 2 minutes until my right knee started to hurt and my back was feeling uncomfortable. I switched legs only to find I was still extremely uncomfortable. I starting to get frustrated so I decided to just ignore the pain and hold still. My breath was unsteady, my heart was racing and I felt even more stressed than before. So I opened my eyes, straightened my legs and just laid down on the floor. Feeling very desperate, I closed my eyes and started breathing. I stayed there for 30 minutes and woke up when my mom was calling me for dinner.
There was nothing meditative about the first 5 minutes but the last 30 minutes were everything.
I don’t mean to bore you with the little details but I want to make it clear that there’s no ‘right’ way to meditate. There are different techniques but at the end of the day, it’s a very personal experience.
So as a start find whatever position you feel comfortable in, one where you can breathe steadily. Then slowly work your way towards different techniques. But always remember to be gentle with yourself. If your mind starts wandering gently observe your thoughts, let them go and bring your attention back to your breath. Meditation is a place that you can always come back to.