Like many of you, the beginning of my meditation journey was confusing and hard. I couldn’t understand how people were able to sit still and not move for long periods of time. It’s hard to comprehend mostly because we live in a world where we are always moving to the next thing and we rarely pause so it’s uncomfortable. My thoughts prior to meditation: “How can you not think of anything? Or focus on one thing? And do that for at least 20 mins?! What? No way!”
There were so many things I thought “meditation” was before trying it. I was exhausting myself mentally about the idea of it before even beginning. Then one day, I decided to just start. I sat myself down and took 3 deep breaths.
First time, my mind was racing, thinking of a million things at once. I was moving a lot trying to be comfortable. My back was hurting, my fingers were moving, even my butt hurting. It felt uncomfortable physically, mentally and emotionally. It felt like I was sitting there for an hour just to realize that only 7 mins have passed. Then I thought to myself, I’m not doing this right at all. I failed.
But I went back again, the next day, and the next. For a whole month, same thing was happening but it was less intense. My back wasn’t hurting right away, it would hurt after several minutes. My mind would race but I was able to stop it with focusing on my breath and taking one thought at a time. Then those 7 minutes kept increasing to 20 minutes (and sometimes 40 mins ). I was progressing!
Then 3 months later of continued consistent practice, I finally arrived at that space where I have minutes of no thoughts. It was happening!!!! That thing I thought I couldn’t do, was happening! I wasn’t thinking of anything! I was lost in a place where I thought I was sleeping but I wasn’t; I was awake. It was like I was floating in my mind. It’s crazy I know but you’ll know what I mean once you get there.
So I’m sure you’ve heard the benefits of meditation from plenty of sources. But here are the benefits that I’ve received:
•Awareness: As I sit there with my emotions and my thoughts, I became aware of them. I got a closer look at what was going on in my head on a daily basis. Some thoughts I was actually shocked with. That I thought were long gone. It made me realize what was stored in my subconscious. Meditation also made me aware of how I speak to myself, how I judge and criticize myself. It made me realize where I should improve in my life, how I can be a better version of myself.
•Presence: Meditation forced me to be present. Forced me to sit there with everything that felt uncomfortable and made me deal with it. It taught me to deal with things instead of avoiding. It also taught me to be fully present in moments and not be somewhere else mentally. Suddenly, I wasn’t lost in thought when playing with my niece and nephew or when someone is talking to me. I was actually there in that very moment, enjoying and taking it all in fully.
•Pausing: When it comes to my emotions, I can be impulsive with my expression at times. And most of the time, it’s not the best approach for me. So meditation has taught me how to pause when I have those impulses and work through my thoughts and emotions before I react. Which has helped me act from my conscious rather than my subconscious.
•Patience: Meditation has made me more patient with myself and others. I am able to be wherever I am and not feel rushed and agitated. To just be there and enjoy the moment for what it is.
•Surrender: It’s teaching me how to let go. How to let go of expectations, assumptions, judgments and attachments. Notice how I said teaching rather than taught because I am still learning. This is by far one of the hardest things to learn (for me).
These are just some of the things that I’ve noticed and that made a major difference in my life. Now it didn’t take me 3 months to get to these benefits, I had moments throughout those moments where I had them. It’s just that it became more clear to me now to what was happening during those 3 months.
So how do you meditate?
I know that’s the next question you might have in mind. There is no particular way you should be while meditating. You should just be. It’s all up to you. There are so many different techniques available and you can pick whichever works for you. And you can always modify it. The most important thing is to remain still and allow the breath to guide you through.
Here’s are few tips for you to learn how to meditate and what has worked for me:
• First, let go of any idea you may have of what meditation is. About what will happen when you’re meditating and what you may get out of it. Because you will find yourself being frustrated. You’ll start to think you’re doing it all wrong and that will lead you to stopping the journey. Just, come in with an open mind and heart and allow the experience to just happen.
• Find a calm and quiet place. Doesn’t have to be super quiet but quiet enough to where nothing will distract you. At the beginning, I suggest being a quiet room where the light isn’t too bright. The place doesn’t have to be super dark but dark enough where the light isn’t bothering you.
• Set an alarm for 20 minutes before you start.
• You can choose to be seated in easy seated or you can lay on your back in savasana (corpse pose). It’s up to you. Whichever makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. I usually do seated during the day and lay down before going to bed. Take 3 deep breaths and start to settle into the pose that you chose.
• Be an witness or observer: Start bringing your focus to your breath. Notice how it enters your body and how it exits. Notice the sensations in your body. What do you feel? Where do you feel tingling? What is it happening with your arms, feet, legs? Just sit there notice. Don’t trying to figure out what is happening or why you may feel something. Just let the feeling be. Just observe.
• Then start to bring your focus to your thoughts, what are you thinking about? Don’t block any thoughts from coming, no matter how uncomfortable they are. If they are coming to you it’s because you need to address and deal with them. Your brain is organizing all the information stored. Don’t stop the process, let it happen. Avoiding will only keep the thoughts stored. Let them come and go. Again, just observe.
• It takes 3-5 minutes before you start to have moments of “nothing”. Where you don’t think of anything at all. Those moments will start in seconds then they’ll increase to minutes. So you have to be patient during the first 3-5 minutes of your mediation session. And depending on the person, it may take weeks before you notice those moments, just be patient.
• Any time you start to get stuck (attached) in one thought or one feeling, bring your focus back to your breath and your body. Feel the breath and your sensations. That’s your anchor to whenever you lose your way.
• Try your best to sit still until the timer goes off. It may happen a few times where you will stop before those 20 minutes are up and it’s okay. Don’t get disappointed or discouraged. It happens. Just try it another day.
• And that’s it!
There’s not much to it besides; breathing, being still and observing. That’s it. Allow the experience to take you wherever.
That’s pretty much my experience with it since I’ve been consistent for over 3 months now. I will share my experience after 3 more months and see what else has changed and what benefits I’ve gained.
Hope you are starting your year with positive thoughts and vibes! Happy new year!