I’ve been asked a lot recently about my meditation practice. And although I’m no expert in any meditation practice except my own, I thought I’d share my thoughts with everyone. 🙂
If you read no further than this paragraph, it’s enough for you to know that your meditation should be what you want it to be, and that no matter what style you choose, how it goes, what you do or don’t do, your meditation is perfect…every time.
There are so many different ways to do meditation that there’s really no excuse to not enjoy it. The purpose, in my opinion, is not to force yourself into enlightenment, but to become more and more present in the moment. It’s actually something I try to practice in all things from washing the dishes to driving my car, not just when I’m sitting on my cushion.
At the beginning of the year, I decided to create a meditation habit for myself. I started January 1, and haven’t missed a day since January 30. I started meditating 30 minutes every morning, and each month since March have increased that by 5 minutes, so now I’m up to 45 minutes.
I sit on a zafu and zabuton, which are a Japanese pillow and pad, that I was introduced to these at the zen center I first went into in Berkeley, CA. I light a candle and some incense as I say a mantra or set an intention for the day, and then I start my meditation timer (there are all kinds of meditation timer apps you can find for your computer, phone, iPad, etc.). And then I sit.
I sit cross legged and I generally have my hands on my knees, but sometimes I use the zen cosmic mudra (left hand in the right with thumbs touching, kind of making an “O” with your hands), or with palms up on my knees.
Sometimes my eyes are closed, sometimes they are open with a downward gaze.
Mostly I sit in silence, but sometimes I prefer some meditation music, a guided meditation, or binaural beats (all of which can be found in abundance on YouTube).
Sometimes I focus on my breath. Sometimes I’m able to just sit without much thought activity at all. Sometimes my mind is all over the place. Sometimes I’m an emotional mess. Sometimes the times passes quickly, and other times it seems to last an eternity.
No matter what happens I end with a bow, straighten my cushion, and then continue with my day.
I keep a small calendar solely for the purpose of having a visual representation of how well I’m sticking to my practice. I put an “X” over each day I meditate. The day gets an “X” if I meditate with my eyes open or closed, if I was anxious to get up or not, if my mind was completely distracted or not, if I listened to a guided meditation or not, if I have a big epiphany or not…I think you get the idea. Every day I take the time to sit, counts.
If you’re just starting out be patient with yourself. Try some things out and see how they work for you. My advice it to start small. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and see how it goes. If you’re like I was/am “doing” is a big deal, and “not doing” is no good. At first any more than 5 or 10 minutes may be so challenging to the idea that you’re wasting time and should be doing something rather than “nothing,” that after a few days you’ll think it’s not “working” and you’ll give up. Stick with 5-10 minutes until it feels like you want to do more. Maybe that will be after a couple days, maybe not for a couple of months. It doesn’t matter. At the start it’s not about the length of your meditation, it’s that you’re establishing a habit.
My other piece of advice if you’re just starting out is to designate a specific time and location for your meditation. I know if I don’t get it done first thing in the morning, I’m likely to keep putting it off until I don’t do it at all. Morning is a good time for me. Maybe an afternoon centering is what will work for you. Or a pre-bedtime wind down. Routine is key here. When you find something that works for you, stick with it.
Congratulations! You made it to the end! Your reward is a reminder that whatever you choose to do for your meditation practice it should feel good to you in that moment. And also, that every time you meditate it is exactly what it should be. There’s no cause for concern or criticism. It is always perfect. ❤
Do you have a meditation practice going? Have you tried and not kept up with it? What are some things that worked for you? What didn’t work for you? What’s your perfect meditation practice? Let me know your experience in the comments below.