When we think of meditation, we visualize a monk sitting, legs folded, eyes closed, silent, sitting still. We think that he is in complete peace, his thoughts have ceased, and he’s not bothered by the flies and mosquitoes. His legs aren’t asleep and his back isn’t aching. From the outside, we think meditation is bliss. But when we try meditation on our own, we feel nothing like this.
Meditation is not all peace and enlightenment. It is learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable, being in pain, and training the mind through consciousness. It’s a practice. Some days you will succeed and some days you will have a difficult time. But as long as you are trying, you will receive the benefits.
There are an infinite number of ways to meditate. So, don’t feel discouraged thinking that you are just limited to sitting in silence. You can . . .
- Lay down on your back (But not recommended in the morning because you have been laying down all night while you were sleeping)
- Concentrate on breathing in and out slowly
- Count in your head
- Concentrate on a color
- Walk slowly and mindfully around the room/anywhere
- Listen to music – any music! From Nirvana to Beethoven
- Listen to nature – the ocean, a stream, the wind, birds
- Dance (Look up Osho meditations)
- Sew, Stitch, Macrame (Or any other repetitive motion)
- Cook or bake
- Draw a mandala
- Color – there are adult coloring books
- Sing a mantra (I recommend the Gayatri Mantra)
- Create your own mantra and repeat in your head or out loud or even write it out – For example, “I am grateful” or “I am deserving of love”
- Listen to a guided meditation on Youtube
- Try Yoga Nidra
- Try Qi Gong
If you choose to sit or lay down in silence, feel free to use pillows or sit against a wall to make yourself comfortable. Meditation has no rules and you have to find what works for you. And, when you feel pain or discomfort, be mindful of it and see how long you can last without moving or giving up.
Going to a meditation group can also be helpful because it forces you to stay with the practice. The group energy keeps everyone together and gives you the strength to keep going and maintain. Also, you can make new friends!
The easiest time to meditate is after the body has been moving and exerting itself. This is why we go into Savasana at the end of a yoga class. Working the body allows more space for the mind to calm down. So, no matter your physical practice, try to take 5 minutes to sit still at the end. If you’re having trouble finding stillness, do 20 jumping jacks and try again.
Meditation allows us the space to stop and just exist. To be one with ourselves and the universe. When we give ourselves this time and space, we can remove blockages, we can hear our intuition, we can feel the feelings we were repressing, and we can release tension and de-stress. It is easy for our mind to be a tangled web. Meditation teaches us that things don’t have to be so messy and cloudy. Actually, life is simple. We are blessed to be alive and to experience life. Not all experiences will be pleasurable and meditation can teach us how to accept the unpleasant and even appreciate it.