Recently, I’ve had several people ask me about meditation. What is it? Why should I do it? HOW do I do it?
Meditation is simply the intentional act of resting the mind. You can think of it as letting your thoughts settle into stillness.
But isn’t the goal of meditation to clear you mind?
Well, not really. We can’t “clear” the thoughts from our mind, because it’s the brain’s job to create thoughts. But we can let them settle with the intention of just letting them be there.
Think of water in a big bowl. The bowl represents your actual brain, the physical aspect of you. The water represents your thoughts “contained” in the brain.
Now imagine a spoon stirring the water. The spoon your to-do list, traffic rules, your plan for the zombie apocalypse, and all the self-judgment and blame and worry that pings your nervous system through the day.
If you stir the water with the spoon, there will be movement in the water, right? When you intentionally think, there’s movement in your thoughts. And when you rev up the stirring with frenetic doing and worry, your thoughts are even more active. Many of us keep our thoughts chronically agitated.
Removing the spoon from the water is meditation.When you completely remove the spoon, it takes a while for the water to settle and become still. This intentional allowing is meditation.
And resisting the temptation to follow those thoughts (what WOULD I do if the zombies came?), or judge those thoughts (that’s a stupid thing to be worried about) is an important element of the practice.
What about mindfulness? Isn’t that the same thing?
Well, no. My friend, Jessica Venezia, is a gifted mindfulness coach. She clarifies the difference like this: “Meditation is something that you set time for, whereas mindfulness can be a type of lifestyle.” She explains that mindfulness “…is when you focus on purpose in the present moment with no-judgment. You might have heard of mindful eating, walking, and breathing. One is able to be mindful of the situation that is happening, truly focus on what is happening in that moment.” You can find out more about Jessica and how she teaches mindfulness at her website.
There are countless techniques to facilitate the intention of meditation and countless resources to guide you along the way. I think that because of the amount of information out there, many people feel intimidated by the idea of meditation. They might think that it requires a lot of study to “get good at it.”
There’s really no “getting good at it,” there’s just the doing of it. ☺ So here’s a simple practice to try right now.
1. Close your eyes.
2. Take a gentle breath in.
3. Release that breath.
4. Repeat as necessary.
5. Open your eyes.
That was a meditation.
One of the most meaningful teachings I ever received is that one conscious breath is a meditation.
I encourage you to incorporate a simple meditation practice into your daily routine. You can start with this.
1. Find a comfy place to sit or lie down. Have your phone or a timer handy.
2. Wrap up in your favorite blanky, get your favorite pillow, or any other items that will create comfort.
3. Set your timer for 3 minutes (Yeah, just 3 minutes to start. Add more as your practice becomes stronger.) and start it when you’re ready.
4. Allow your breath to fall into its natural rhythm.
5. When the timer sounds, gently open your eyes.
6. Notice how you feel, stretch a little bit, and flow into the rest of your day!
Starting simple like this is a comfortable way to begin a meditation practice that can last a lifetime. If you want to find out more, there are many resources out there, including apps.
Try it and tell me about your experience! If it feels like you need some support to get started, just contact me. I’m pretty easy to find.
Looking forward to connecting with you soon! In the meantime, be sweet to yourself.