You don’t have to scale a mountain and be surrounded by mist to meditate. You don’t have to join an ashram and throw on a saffron-hued robe and give up worldly possessions. Yes, meditation’s gotten more mainstream as of late, but there is the idea formality is needed in order to do so.
I go into meditation more so in this 6-part series:
- Monkey See, Monkey Do: When Your Mind is Full of Gibbons, Part 1
- Creating Order from Chaos: Practice, Time, Patience, Part 2
- Keeping it Simple, Part 3
- Watching for Awareness, Part 4
- Disengaging to Engage, Part 5
- Walking Yourself Through the Process, Part 6
Keep your meditation practice simple. If you don’t want to use it as a lifestyle change, that’s okay. Do it for 10-15 minutes prior to your workout. Visualize how you want it to go, how you’re going to do, how you’re going to navigate around obstacles, how you’ll set aside negative self-talk and replace it with better.
Meditate for that small amount of time at the beginning of the day, visualizing how you want the day to go, and how you’ll get solution-focused when it doesn’t unfold per your careful plans. Do it at the close of the day, reflecting on how things went, how you’d like to improve them…without beating yourself up for mistakes. If you made one — acknowledge it, thank it for providing you with a lesson, envision how you want things to go differently next time, and then move on. Let it go, and move on.
Even picture how you want to dream. How easily you’re falling asleep. Whenever you choose to meditate, use it for compassionate self-reflection. Do some breathwork. In with the good, out with the old/bad.
This, and meditation in general, will help you become more focused, more clear-headed, and more aware. Aware of what you, ask?
- Answers to the open-ended questions I’ve suggested that you ask yourself.
- It helps you declutter your brain (that’s what the mind chatter is I speak about in Part 1 above.)
- It helps you learn how to value your own time by creating stillness for yourself (lack of stillness in life is quite possibly why someone feels frenzied and overwhelmed.)
- It has a wealth of health benefits in general.
- It has a wealth of benefits for athletes.
- It has a wealth of benefits for your mental and emotional health.
But I don’t have time! you say. I’m too busy to sit and do nothing!
Think of it like this…would you always want to always ride a roller coaster all the time, all day, every day? You need stillness, right? Well, that’s how so many people live their lives (I purposely use no punctuation to make my point:)
Up at 4 am to go to the gym then home to clean up and get dressed then make breakfast for the kids then get them to school then commute to work messy traffic then work and work and meetings and work and then commute home in messy traffic feeling tired oh so tired oh so tired gather the kids for soccer piano clarinet baseball go to the store to shop while tired and in crowds drive home with kids cranky and whining kids get them settled in to homework then make dinner get the kids bathed and in bed then maybe falling into bed around eleven if I’m lucky crappy sleep and then it starts over again the next day and the next day and the next day….
You got tired just reading that, didn’t you?
What does always being always busy teach them? OK, work ethic, but…what does it teach them–you–about valuing their time for themselves? Does it teach them–you–to realize you are an individual with individual needs separate fro them? How about your boss and co-workers? My question is, where are you on your own to-do list?
Giving yourself stillness isn’t nasty-selfish. As in tromping over everyone and thinking me me me only I exist me me me! in that annoying, irritating way that we all dislike. It’s selfish in the sense you’re doing something for yourself. It’s telling yourself you are of value.
Meditation simply means to contemplate. To be. Reflection. It’s not for picking over bad decisions or stupid mistakes…in other words, it has nothing to do with any form of self-judgment and beating yourself up over things. Be with the feeling of reaching your goals. Immerse yourself in the way it feels to have compassion given to you.
Meditation and stillness is one of the most beneficial gifts of swiftly-compounding interest you can give yourself.
If you find yourself getting stuck in the middle of a workout or your day and feel frustration building up like a steam whistle — stop. Pause for 1-5 minutes, right where you are, music thumping in your ears, calm your breath (your thoughts follow the pace of your breath) and do a quick meditation/visualization. This action gets you refocused and back into what you want out of the moment, not what you don’t want — how crappy things are going. (And sometimes things just go that way, even if you do a ton of visualization before the workout).
The more you picture what you want, the more your brain is going to start finding ways to help you get it, just as it’s been helping you find ways to create what you don’t want. The more you focus on where you want to land at the end of this 30-day challenge, the closer you’ll hit the target.
But I don’t know how to meditate, you say.
Well, neither did I. First, start with my 6 key points of meditation above. Then let go of your preconceived ideas of what mediation should be (you will not find the quiet of the vast and velvet Universe within you immediately no more than you will find order and tidiness immediately in a cluttered, out-of-control office, garage, attic, pantry or whatever.)
If you do something else while you meditate, you’re not meditating, you’re doing something else. It’s like saying, “Well, I want to do a cartwheel. Can I study for my exam while I do one?” No. You can’t. They’re mutually exclusive. Maybe as you meditate you’ll think of other things, but, if you do, let them go. (See point #1 above.)
There are many other ways you can meditate:
- Listening to a metronome
- Listening to soothing music (no lyrics!)
- Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Let me pause here.
If you are someone who feels that meditation is against Christian practices, please look here. Meditation is mentioned all through The Bible. It’s also what Christ did for his forty-day sojourn in the desert. Meditation is also discussed here. Here is a Trappist Monk discussing meditation and Christian practice.)
If you are not Christian, but are of other faiths, I encourage you to look up “meditation+[your faith]” and see what it says.
Meditation also simply means continued or extended thought; reflection or contemplation on something.
It can also be devout religious contemplation or spiritual introspection. Meditation does not have any specific religion attached to it. It’s encouraged in every religion out there I’ve so far come across.
Here is what I found for the Koran and Meditation and the Torah and meditation.
Meditation is non-denominational and will easily fit around whatever your beliefs are. So is yoga. Yoga may have originated in a Hindu-centric country, but yoga is merely a form of exercise that can help you create a closer relationship with your body, mind, spirit, soul–and therefore your religious faith. I know many deeply religious people who practice both meditation and yoga on a daily basis. I also know atheists who meditate and practice yoga regularly.
The great thing about meditation/visualization is that it helps that part of you that gets belligerent, the part of you that’s lazy and doesn’t want to change because you’re moving out of your comfort zone is that it gives that part of you a preview and it eases up.
Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.