How I Got Into Meditation
I started meditating after I got into Yoga.
Most of us do yoga for the exercise, not realizing the mental and spiritual benefits.
See, yoga didn’t start out as an exercise style that also happens to calm you down. That’s more of a Western thing. It started as a spiritual practice.
The exact origins and timeline of yoga are unclear, but it is a practice that started in ancient India.
There are several different yoga schools with several practices and goals.
There’s Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism…I myself am still learning about it. And I doubt I’ll ever know EVERYTHING there is to know about it.
But the main point seems to be reuniting the spirit and the body, the physical and the abstract.
Because it’s all connected and you can’t have one without the other.
And this is where meditation comes in.
What Is Meditation?
More wisdom from Merriam-Webster.
- to engage in contemplation or reflection
- to engage in mental exercise…for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness
- to focus one’s thoughts on; reflect or ponder over
- to plan or project the mind
I know, it’s a little overkill with all the definitions. But they’re all really good.
Meditation is an integral part of yoga practice. It’s a great way to get back in touch with your higher self.
That’s a part of you that exists whether you intend it or not. You don’t have to concentrate on existing, do you?
You just DO.
That’s what meditation helps you get back to.
Enlightenment is the ultimate goal, but it’s not a destination. It’s a journey.
And there are several welcome side effects of going on this journey.
Every time you pause to take a deep breath, you stop the “fight or flight” response in your brain.
So if you’re having a rough day at work, like I have in the past, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
While you’re doing this, you don’t worry about thinking or not thinking. Don’t focus on anything else but taking that breath.
Do that about 3 times, then sit with the calming sensation. Tada! You’ve meditated!
And even if only for the moment, you have calmed yourself and brought yourself back.
Now imagine if you could teach yourself to hold on to that feeling once you’ve reached it?
Well, guess what? If you meditate for a few minutes every day, you can!
All it takes is a little repetition. I’m talking 1-5 minutes a day, tops. It’s about quality, not quantity. As you get better at it, you’ll be able to go for longer.
And I know from experience: you’ll notice a difference in your level of stress.
You won’t get stressed as often AND you’ll get better at managing it when you do.
Your mind will start to recognize that relief is only a breath away. All you have to do is close your eyes and your body will remember the rest.
Like I said before, the longterm results of regular meditation are staggering.
I’m the first to admit that I’ve held a lot of resentments, both in the past and in the present. I’m not a perfect person, and I don’t try to be.
Ok, SOMETIMES I try to be. But I can’t. Not ever. And accepting that on a deeper level has made SUCH a difference in my life.
I mean, PROFOUND. I can forgive myself when I make little mistakes, I don’t cringe away from love as often…
These are things that, in the past, would have been near impossible for me.
That and the resentments I hold don’t hurt me the way they used to.
Yes, hurt ME. My mother has a saying: “A resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.
I was poisoning myself ON THE REGULAR. Every thought, every word, every action, every reaction.
But I’m glad to say that, thanks to meditation, I like the taste of poison less and less every day.
Think I may be on the mend from my past self-abuse, too.
And thank God for that.
Rewire Your Brain
I no longer like the taste of poison. I’m training my mind to reject it.
Everything we learn is just that- learned. If this, then that. Cause and effect.
Sometimes what we’re taught is effective in the moment, but hurts us in the long run. And most of it gets retained in our subconscious minds.
So we won’t be able to rewire it through conscious effort to change.
We have to let go of that “willpower”. It ain’t willpower holding us in place, so it ain’t willpower gonna push us forward.
Gotta sit down and observe yourself. How did you feel when “it” happened? What sensation do you feel rising in your body when you think of it? Where do you feel that?
Notice it, breathe with it. Don’t try to change it.
Soon you’ll be able to identify it so well that your mind will be able to tell your brain to fuck off with all that noise…
Very kindly, of course.
Become More Accepting and Kind
This is a HUGE one for me.
I like to think that I’m a kind person at my core. I try to live my life conscious of how I affect others and what my actions mean in the grand scheme of things.
But sometimes, I get caught up in thoughts and sensations that, when you think about it, don’t fucking matter.
Who gives a fuck who cut you off in traffic when tomorrow you could have a brain tumor?
Might be kind of dark, but think about it. You spent a tumor-free minute of your life cursing some asshole in your head. And he couldn’t forget about you faster if he tried.
Why waste precious energy on that? Feel that sensation, the heat of anger, and let it go as soon as it comes.
That guy could have been running late for his daughter’s first recital he just barely made it off of work. You don’t know. Other people’s lives are important, too.
We’re all important because none of us are. We all have paths and none is more significant than another.
Meditation helps you recognize this. It makes you stop and reflect inward, and you start to realize that no one is more important than anyone else.
So meditate and learn to be kinder to your fellow man.
Or woman ;).
All those sensations I’ve been talking about…
None of this is possible without being able to know what’s going on in your body. You’ve got to have that self-awareness.
Meditation gives you that.
It eliminates the distractions of everyday life and hones you in on the tiniest of details.
If there’s something wrong, you’ll know it. You’ll get the sign from your body.
And that’s awareness.
Reunite Mind and Body
Mind and body go hand-in-hand.
You would not HAVE a mind without your body, and your body doesn’t work without your mind. Simple as.
In an ideal world, the two are well-synced. But in this world where we’ve established a “mind over matter” mentality, we’ve severed that connection.
We tend to work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Our bodies have long since told us that we should slow down or stop, but our brain tells us to keep going.
Our conscious mind.
Meditation is how you get that connection back.
It’ll be through a combination of the frequency, rewiring, and awareness.
For me, this is the ultimate goal of meditation. Unite the mind and body into the connection we’re all born with and meant to have.
The Best Ways to Meditate
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate except not to do it.
So there are several ways to go about it. But for the sake of personal experience, I’m gonna stick with the two I know best.
Sit, Breathe, And Focus
Quite simply, chill the fuck out for a few minutes.
If I need a little pick-me-up, I’ll sit in a half-lotus, close my eyes, and breathe.
(Half-lotus is just a cross-legged seated position. My favorites are this position with an upright back or laying relaxed in savasana).
I like to focus on my heart or my third-eye, which is that spot right between your eyebrows.
Then I observe the energy that’s flowing in these areas and how it moves through my body. From there, I can notice subtle changes based on the eb, flow, and movement of breath.
When I’m really having trouble focusing on my own, I’ll turn on a guided meditation. This helps if I’m looking for a specific intention or focus other than general reflection.
You can find a lot of great ones on YouTube.
I love these apps because they have everything you need right where you want it when you want it. No wading through search results. I mean, what’s the point of looking for a meditation for stress if all you’re gonna do is get stressed looking for it?
Better to have one of these handy-dandy little apps to make the process easier.
And Now For A Challenge…
A little meditation goes a long way, especially if you’re doing it every day.
So here’s my challenge for you:
Meditate for 5 minutes every morning before you start your day for 1 week.
Journal how you’re feeling right when you wake up versus right after your 5-minute meditation.
DON’T EDIT YOURSELF.
Both times, just let the thoughts flow.
And see what happens…
What have you got to lose? Besides maybe 10 or 15 extra minutes of sleep…
But trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Once you’ve done it, come back and comment some of the things you’ve found.
Follow me on social media and let me know how you did with this challenge!
January 1, 2018, New Years Day.