Below is a post I had written a few months back when I had ideas of a wellness/self-help blog. I didn’t follow through with it, as I was just trying to impress a yoga instructor, but I kept the writing. I also kept meditating. As I’ve grown, it has helped me tremendously.
I also just wrote a piece on “loving kindness” meditation. It’s something that has become a big part of me and of my routine. This post hopefully will serve as a bit of a precursor and foundation so I’m not just throwing loads of loving kindness on you.
Meditation isn’t weird. It really isn’t.
A lot of you will balk at that opening statement, and I don’t blame you. I did.
I saw the unshaven man, or woman, in the park, counting their breath, and I judged. It’s tough to admit, but I did, and I was wrong. I also stole his wallet.
Just like so many others, I associated those who meditate as those who “don’t do.” They don’t work hard and they are passive (liberals). I made that assumption, and I didn’t challenge it—not for a long time.
For you to understand meditation, and learn to integrate it into your life, you first need to know what mediation is not:
Meditation is not non-doing. That’s misconception number one. I’m sure you can hear the surly, judging voice of your uncle–who worked the lumber mill–in your head now. He’s wearing flannel drinking a Bud.
“Hell, you’re just sitting there, doing nothing, like a queer.”
A lot of people view meditation in that regard. They see it as doing nothing. They don’t see any concrete results, anything tangible. So, they shit on it. But that’s not meditation. They, like I was, are wrongly informed.
Also, shame on your uncle.
Meditation is also not exclusive to any one type of religion. Often times people are afraid to meditate because of their faith. They are afraid to meditate because they aren’t Buddhist, or not familiar. They don’t understand the spiritual principles or know what to think and they fear it contradicts their faith. Again, that’s not true. It also makes meditation sound like something Adolf did. He didn’t. He sucked.
Meditation does not require one single, “right” way to do it. Meditation is meant to help you, as an individual, so that you can connect with the world. How you do that is part of your journey and your being. You aren’t doing it wrong if you sit a certain way or think a particular thought. It’s important to know that.
Meditation is not elitist and it is not uniform. It is meant to connect your “self” with the world you live in and make you aware of that divine being that you are. Your mind and your thoughts are outside of that being, that divine self. So, sometimes you need to sit in silence, and you need to connect with your breath. When you do that, in whatever way works best, you are getting closer to the beautiful, unadulterated divine being that is inside you… That is you.
Whether you believe you were created in a divine likeness or are part of a secular universe, you’re still something/someone special. There is something undeniably unique and special about all of us. The connectedness, amongst the world, full of individuals, is even more special. Meditation brings you closer to that; to the majestic of the every day.
That was heavy.
To every significant-other/teacher who told me I could never take anything seriously, suck on that healthy nut. Do that, and then meditate, because I didn’t mean it.
Since this is a short post, and I can’t get into meditative specifics, I will focus on what I believe the most important aspect to grasp: mindfulness.
By no means is mindfulness simple, but its foundation, your breath, should be. When you meditate, wherever you meditate, be aware of your breath. There is no better way to center you into the present. As you focus your mind, you let your thoughts be. You do not work to direct your thoughts and you do not judge yourself for what you are thinking about. You breathe. You let yourself be, and you stay with you breath.
Seriously, don’t judge yourself and don’t focus on your inability to focus. If I got upset with myself every time my mind wandered I would never meditate. My mind wanders. A lot. I’ve gotten better, as I’ve gotten deeper into practice, but five out of ten I’m absent mindedly blowing the doors off a nurse/librarian before returning to my breath. That’s ok. With each time I refocus (through breath) I begin again. I’m aware of opportunity and I am present. Every minute of every day that you are mindful, you are open to something new. You are able to savor and connect. That, in brief essence, minus personal fantasy and fetish tendencies, is mindfulness.
When I began meditating, I was skeptical. I explained this previously. There were three things I did, though, amongst others, that helped me a lot:
- Go for a walk: Do this without your phone and without distraction. I recommend leaving the music behind, but sometimes it can help. Walk and be mindful of both your breath and what is around you. See everything that is present. See the grass and the trees and the dog dropping a deuce. Hear the wind and the cars and the birds. All of it. Often times you will be taken back by the beauty and feel more connected to yourself and the world than you really ever have before. You inner self is not clouded by constant thought. You are enveloped in the present. And that’s the point. You may also get a chance to see MILF with twin cannons bent over pulling weeds in her front yard. That’s part of it too.
- Most meditators, those more experienced, suggest a walking meditation where you focus on your body and movement. That is good too. I’ve had better luck attaining mindfulness by utilizing a sensory/sound meditation as I walk–but that’s just me. Try a walking meditation where your feet and legs are your anchor. This works and is helpful for most people. If you can’t walk, I’m sorry I suggested it.
- Begin with guided meditation: Start with a good app on your phone. In the confines of your home, or yard, this is a great way to begin. Being mindful is often extremely hard to do. It is natural for your mind to wander. Did you submit that expense report? Did your boss like your sales presentation? Is it herpes if it’s everywhere? These thoughts can overwhelm even the most experienced in meditation. So, when you begin, let a nice, smooth, lady voice guide your beginning sessions. That, coupled with the harmony your breath, will keep you mindful. Again, it’s ok for your mind to wander. Don’t judge or assume your efforts futile. Don’t think about any of that. Just… come back to your breath.
- Light a candle: Entering into a solemn, special place is an important way to begin meditation. Just as sitting/laying/lying in a posture of dignity and calm is paramount, so too is your setting. The simple act of lighting a candle where you meditate will help enter your body into a connected state. Linger on that flame and let yourself be.
- Light that same candle when you bring home something from the bar or she is letting you out of the friend zone. You will experience a similar connectedness and your body will associate feelings of non judgement. Non judgement is good when you quick trigger and she laughs at you.
***This is not a shameless plug. I’m not getting paid for this, I promise. But I want to conclude with a recommendation to Lions Roar. It helped me tremendously and is a great publication with loads of material for aid and introspection. @LionsRoar
***Lions Roar, if you want to pay me for that, I’m open to it.
***Thanks to @SharonSalzberg … You make an understanding of meditation achievable and practical.