My Meditation Journey
So many people say to me, “I can’t meditate, I can’t just empty my mind.” Well, there’s two parts to my answer to that.
Firstly, if you think meditation is “emptying your mind” then that explains why you don’t think you can do it!. Meditation is rarely about emptying the mind. Focusing the mind, yes, but not emptying it. Meditation is about learning to point the mind to a single point of focus. That can be anything. The breath, an emotion, a physical sensation, a sound, a question (more on this later). Guided meditations give you a point of focus.
Secondly, meditation is a skill. Skills require practice. If you’ve only tried sitting and emptying your mind a couple of times, no wonder you don’t think you’re any good at it! It takes time to learn to meditate. Some people will have a natural ability. Some people will find it harder. But it is open and available for all to learn, practice and hone.
I’m still learning and still practicing. And building it into a regular habit remains a little elusive for me! But I notice the difference in my mind and my mood when I manage to get a good run of daily meditation down. It’s not just the calmness of mind that I benefit from. Meditation helps me to answer some of the nagging questions in my mind too.
Ah, those questions. How does thinking about questions help calm the mind? Well, meditation isn’t really thinking. I often feel that thinking clouds our thinking. Our minds get distracted into supposition and hypotheticals. When we think really hard about something, it’s difficult for the answers to come. Meditation is perhaps more thinking softly. Letting the question sit in my mind, gently bringing myself back to the question whenever I go down a blind alley of a story. And it’s surprising how often the answer just bubbles up when I stop burying it in layers of hard thought.
Often the answer is that the question itself isn’t really that important. Few of the questions that whirl around our heads really are. And the clarity we gain when we can move away from unnecessary questions clears the ground for new creativity.
The other huge advantage that learning the skill of meditation brings is the ability to take it wherever I am and into just about any situation. This is why I really like meditating on the breath. The breath is always, ALWAYS there. If you can meditate on the breath, you can meditate anywhere and any time. Even if it’s just needing to bring my focus to the breath in moments of stress, anxiety, frustration or anger. Why would you not want to learn how to do that?
As a yoga teacher and student, it seems obvious to me that meditation should form a big part of what I teach. Meditation is, for me, an essential part of doing the groundwork for a satisfied year. In the second month of Find Your Focus season, we start to build a meditation habit. (I also need this to help with my own habit-building!). Even just committing to a couple of minutes a day makes a difference. And most of the time, once we’ve started we keep going for longer than those couple of minutes.
Join me for the new season of The Satisfaction Revolution. Doors are open until Sunday.