A few years back, before I had a dog or a mortgage, I took a meditation class. It was a 4 week class offered every Friday at 4pm at a yoga studio across the street from the beach.
Before that first class, I had never succeeded at meditating. I would often try, sitting on a cushion in my dark living room with my eyes closed. I’d sit and wait for enlightenment, disappointed. More often than not, I would just keep saying to myself, ‘ok, start meditating now’…’ok, NOW!’. And I was surprised when nothing happened. Wasn’t there some kind of switch that would flip, and peace would just surround you. My instructor would tell us stories of how, after years of practice, she now finds herself able to meditate for hours surrounded by a world full of chatter.
I tried…and would often just fall asleep.
Turns out, falling asleep and immediate enlightenment are not anchors of successful meditation. Color me surprised.
So I shelled out some cash, snuck out of work early and sat in a room with only 3 other people for the weekly meditation workshop. The class would often start with a few gentle yoga moves, then we’d find a comfortable spot and meditate. About 20 minutes later, a gong would sound, we’d do a few more stretches and part ways.
Looking back, those Friday afternoons were bliss. I would leave class completely relaxed and calm, my mind stopped racing and I would drive home purely happy.
Now, I try to make it a part of daily life, for at least 10 minutes. Sometimes, when I’m feeling ambitious, I try for 30 minutes. However, I started out at just 5 minutes, which at the time was a serious challenge. I’ve never had a desire to fidget more than I did for those 5 long minutes. Now with practice, I have successfully sat for 45 minutes (though it’s rare I have time to do it for this long).
Reasons to try meditation:
According to Psychology Today, studies showed that meditation shifts activity in the brain and results in a feeling of calm and happiness. Here are a few reasons that I love meditation…
- Slows me down. In a world that is all about ‘go, go, go’ and multitasking, this allows my brain to stop spinning.
- Instills a sense of peace and balance
- Restores clarity
- Improves sleep
- Enhances concentration
- I feel increased overall happiness after a sustained mediation practice
You don’t really need anything special to meditate. To start it’s helpful to have a comfortable place to sit, and a space that can minimize light and sound. As you progress in practice, you will be able to manage meditation in light/louder environments.
- Some find warmth helpful and wrap a blanket around them during practice
- I prefer to sit on a cushion, but a rolled up blanket/towel would work just as well
- I use meditation beads, I find it quite helpful when I have trouble quieting my mind
- I use a Smartphone tool that makes all the difference. I currently have an android phone and downloaded the Insight Timer app. You can use it to set a timer and it will ring a very gentle sound when the time ends. It’s not jarring or loud which is nice as it doesn’t undo all the peace you found. I don’t recommend using an alarm clock as that sound can be incredibly stressful to end your meditation.
Would you (or have you) ever tried meditation?