I think there is some assumptions about meditation made by those who’ve never experienced it. Let me tell you first off that you don’t’ have to dress in robes, or have a gong or burn incense.
Yes, you CAN do those things if you like, but you don’t need to by any means.
You can meditate exactly where you are, dressed as you are, right now. You can stand, sit in a chair, lie down…in fact I find it rather meditative to be on the elliptical at the gym. Yes…pj’s work too. In fact I often do my meditations in my pj’s as I like to meditate just before sleep. Some folks like to meditate almost as soon as they wake up…which I also do in a way.
You see, the key to this is simply that meditation is as personal as anything else in your life. What works for one person may not cut it for another.
I once tried to meditate by looking into a flame of a candle. Drove me nuts. It just didn’t work for me and I couldn’t understand how others found it helpful at all. A fire in a fireplace maybe, but the candle just didn’t do it. However, a friend of mine recalls doing this and she loved it. She didn’t realize that this was a form of meditation and was really excited because sitting quietly trying to focus was hard for her ADD brain to handle.
I, however, found that meditative music worked wonders for me. Celtic meditative music in particular soothes my soul. It gives my wandering mind something to focus on that connects deep within my spirit. I understand that this type of music has a higher vibration that helps us also vibrate and that level. I find it helps me settle into my self and when it fades out to silence I am able to sit more easily with that silence and focus on my breath.
For some (myself included) it can also be helpful to have ambient sounds in the background to keep from being distracted by sudden noises. I live in a condo and a noise from the garden or the hallway can rip me out of a meditative state very suddenly. I have an app on my phone that plays bird songs, rushing river, rain etc. called Relax Melodies. Very helpful at times. I have a very easy time meditating when I can hear the ocean lapping against the shore. Assuming of course my dog doesn’t decide to go for a swim and then shake right next to me.
It took me some time to realize what worked for me. It was a process and I am grateful for all the online guided meditations that are now out there that helped me get deeper. I expect as my meditation muscles get stronger I will add to what can work for me. I already find myself able to do short mediations out in the ‘real’ world when need be to calm myself or regain focus and energy.
Many ask “So why should I even bother to try to find a way to meditate that works for me?”
Easy answer? —> Meditation improves your health and well-being.
Several clinical studies have documented specific ways that meditating may help people stay healthier, improve mental focus and find better emotional control and connection with their emotions. It increases your ability to be mindful even when not in the midst of meditation.
Some studies even show that the brain of someone who meditates may be physically different from someone who does not.
“A study in 2005 by Sara Lazar, Ph.D., an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, worked to find out which parts of the brain came into play when a person practices mindfulness and meditation. Her study included 20 people who meditate regularly and 20 who do not.
The findings were amazing. The brain region called the cortex, which is associated with attention, sensory awareness and emotional processing, was thicker in those who meditated. In fact, people who meditated were discovered to have brains that grew thicker in direct correlation with how often they meditated. The findings suggest that meditation can actually change the structure of the brain.
Meditation is a lot like playing a sport or going to the gym. You will struggle a bit at the start, you’ll have to find what works for you and you will have good days and bad days with it. As you get more in tune with yourself you will be stronger and better at it.
We spend a crazy amount of our time and energy focused on the external world. Our jobs, cars, bills, family…the list goes on. Meditation allows us to explore our inner world and workings. In turn it gives us more to offer our external world and puts all of that into perspective.
I also believe that this is a time you can focus healing energy on your heart, soul and body. When I began to meditate regularly I found my body healed much quicker after my car accident. I had less pain and more ability to focus on getting better. I give a lot of credit to my practice with meditation for the decreasing pain and increasing mental focus and energy.
During meditation you can hear your true spirit and this is something far too many of us are missing out on. I found my path to coaching when I was able to listen deeply to where my spirit wanted to go.
I love the expression that meditation charges up my ‘spiritual batteries’. If you let your batteries run dry you have less to give your family, your job or your hobbies. Less for life. You need to nurture your spirit as it is the space you live in. It’s what you bring to your life and to other in it.
This is why I meditate. This is why I struggle through those tough days where my brain just doesn’t want to settle down. I heard it said somewhere that during times I am too busy to meditate, I need to meditate more. Even the act of meditating imperfectly brings about some benefits of stress reduction, focus and calm. Be kind to yourself as you get started and remember that everyone was once a beginner.
It is a practice and I will continue to practice. Will you?