Hello beautiful goddess
The topic of meditation practice came up organically in last night’s Goddess Session workshop. Although the health benefits have been widely reported, and companies such as Google are incorporating it into their daily life, I feel as though meditation is still a an elusive concept for many of us. Sitting still (when we know we'd rather be doing anything but) for indefinable periods of time may be a form of torture for some. The idea of concentrating on 'nothing' perhaps seems ludicrous and incredibly hard to attain, as our monkey mind jumps from thought to thought to thought.
There are many teachers and methods out there to learn from - and this certainly adds to the confusion. There also seem to be many hard and fast rules around different techniques, duration and right time of the day. Today, I'd like to share with you my truth as a meditation teacher - there is no 'right way' to meditate. I truly do believe that whichever method feels right for you, is the right way for you.
Here are my tips to turn meditation from an unattainable ideal to a blissful part of your daily life.
1. Let go...
...of the desire to be perfect. Even if you are a Zen Monk who has been trained to meditate from a tender age, thoughts will still creep into the human mind. There is no such thing as an 'ideal' meditation from start to finish. Even more importantly, when the thoughts do pop up, avoid giving yourself negative feedback. Also, let go of the belief that meditation is about having no thoughts at all. Of course this can occur, but perhaps for only a few moments at a time, that eventually will become longer and longer. But to begin with, I recommend focusing on 'turing down the volume' on the thoughts, rather than getting rid of them altogether.
2. Be comfortable
Images of the Buddha in Lotus pose are on the cover of many a meditation text book, and leads us to feel in the West that we may need to look like a pretzel in order to do it successfully. This may sound radical, but I actually recommend finding a comfortable posture. Anything from lying down on the floor on a yoga mat or in your bed with an eye pillow, sitting on the couch or on a chair, perhaps even investing in a yoga bolster to sit on. Also, if you need to fidget, scratch, wiggle your toes - do so. This is all part of the bodies resistance to the internal workings of the mind and what lurks there. So as you settle in to your position, allow yourself time to make any necessary adjustments. Blankets and socks are also your best friend as a meditator, given that as your heart rate naturally decreases, so does your body temperature.
3. 1 minute wonders
If you're completely new to meditation, I actually recommend starting with the smallest amount of time possible to dedicate to the practice. Think of a mundane activity that forces you to slide into stillness for 1 minute during the day: whilst the kettle boils, in line at your local cafe, at the photocopier, on public transport, in the shower. For that 1 minute, allow your gaze to become soft or even close your eyes. Focus on slowing down the breath, and turning down the volume on any thoughts that arise. At the end of the minute, notice how you feel... perhaps more relaxed and relieved that it wasn't actually that hard? From here, increase gradually to 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes - whatever feels right and fits in with your lifestyle.
4. Experiment with techniques
From Transcendental to Vipassana to Zen, there are a myriad of traditions and theories on how to meditate. Like finding the right style of yoga class, I invite you to spread your wings and try as many as it takes to find what resonates with you. If you'd prefer to experiment in the comfort of your own home, you can try downloading guided meditations. The teacher will guide you through a visualisation, which helps to keep the monkey mind at bay. They are also great to download onto your phone so you can listen to them on public transport or in your lunch hour at work.
5. Time of day
Ensuring that meditation fits into your lifestyle, is crucial in it becoming a regular part of your day. If you're an early bird, try making it the first thing you do when your eyes open. If you're a night owl, try meditating in the evening to unwind before going to bed. If what a teacher suggests simply doesn't work for you, don't be shy to modify the practice. Remember, the focus for us in the West is to invoke a sense of peace and calm in the body, and reduce stress and cortisol levels.
6. Honouring where you're at
Recently, I came down with the dreaded flu at the very end of the Winter season here in Australia. Although meditation is a cherished part of my self care routine, with a clogged nose, painfully sore throat and high fever, meditation was the last thing my body wanted to do. So I honoured that feeling. This may seem controversial, but I would never recommend 'forcing' yourself to meditate. If one day you sit down, and you're just not feeling it, don't push yourself. Allow your soul to guide you into stillness when you're ready.
If you feel called to explore guided meditations, I'm incredibly excited to launch today my Goddess Meditation Series One! I've created something special for you my loves. Click HERE to find out more...
What stage are you at in your meditation journey? What do you find the most rewarding or frustrating? I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Please also share this post with any sister who would benefit from some soul reflection on meditation.
Thank you so much for reading this week’s Monday Meditation.
In love and gratitude