So you think meditation isn't for you. I've heard this before.
You know all of the benefits, but you "just can't do it."
Let me just start by saying, when I first tried to meditate, I was about the worst at it you could be.
I was impatient, irritable, easily distracted, and physically uncomfortable every time I sat down.
Five minutes felt like 5 hours. I seriously wondered if it was used as a form of torture in places.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Today, though? Well, today I look forward to my meditation sessions more than I do most things.
And because of my meditation practice, I enjoy benefits of my sessions during everyday activities, enjoy my yoga practice way more, and have been able to find more peace throughout each day.
So, we aren't the same, you & I, and that's a beautiful thing. What worked for me may not work for you. But, my hope is that in sharing the techniques that DID work for me, I can inspire you to play around with some that MAY work for you. So what do you say? Willing to give it a go?
Tip # 1: Don't Force It!
I never do anything the easy way. I have already mentioned that meditating did not come naturally to me at first. What I failed to mention is that, in an attempt to "get there faster," I went all in and signed up for a 10-Day silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat. Yep, you read that right.
Essentially, I went from struggling to meditate for 5 minutes, to fully committing to several hours of meditation per day. PER DAY. But let me let you in on a little secret. That doesn't mean I meditated for several hours per day.
Allow me to explain. If I sat down for an hour-long meditation, and was only able to successfully meditate for 10 minutes, I celebrated my 10 minutes. I did not punish myself for the 50 other minutes that I spent daydreaming about being in nature, singing 80's songs in my head, or peeking at the peaceful meditators around me.
I just did what I could. I didn't put any unnecessary pressure on myself. Instead, I met any and all judgmental thoughts, feelings, or expectations with kindness, compassion, and understanding.
See, the trick here is to not make it something you HAVE to do, but rather something you GET to do. If I felt like 10 minutes was all I was going to peacefully and willingly be able to meditate for, I allowed myself to use the rest of the quiet time to do whatever felt right. And in time - because I wasn't forcing it - it organically became easier and more accessible to me.
Tip # 2: Use Your Imagination
Ok, so here's my uber-nerdy share:
During my first Yoga Teacher Training, we were guided through several really beautiful meditations. Trouble was, in the beginning, I had so many thoughts swirling around as I was learning philosophy and technique, that I was having a really hard time staying present. Often times I would get to the end of the meditation and realize that I wasn't even sure what the meditation was about. This didn't make for good material to "share my experience" with the group afterward. So I devised a strategy that would allow me to acknowledge and dismiss any stray thoughts while staying present.
I conceptualized a meditation partner named Elliott....who happened to be an elephant calf.
I would visualize sitting alongside Elliott whenever I was meditating and imagine that my thoughts were red balloons. If a thought that popped up was worth remembering, I entrusted it to Elliott. And if it was not, I envisioned releasing that thought balloon up into the sky to gently float away. A majority of the time, the mindful attention I paid to hand Elliot my balloons was enough that I was able to remember anything of value and to lovingly dismiss the meditative mental chatter.
The key here is to choose whatever mental image works for you. Maybe your thoughts are leaves floating down a stream, or particles in the wind. Compassionately let go of what you don't need, and find a way that works for you to hold on to any meaningful insight you gain from your meditations.
Tip # 3: Keep It Casual
Simply not having the time is a common excuse for why some people just can't meditate. But meditation doesn't have to be a formal or scheduled event. There is nothing that says meditation requires a specific place, or a set amount of time, or an elaborate setup - complete with cushions, incense, and talismans.
I have been known to meditate while in waiting rooms, or during longer traffic lights. You could incorporate walking meditations into your day, or meditate during simple (and safe) chores, like folding laundry.
If you can slow down your breath, and draw your attention inward, you can meditate. I am sure you will find once you start to incorporate small meditative moments into your life, the benefits you glean from your experiences will cause you to commit to more purposeful sessions. But in the meantime, some meditation is certainly better than no meditation.
I can personally attest to what a game-changer adopting a meditation practice has been. I find myself putting off major decisions until I have "meditated on it" or meditating briefly before creating or embarking on a new adventure. I use meditative techniques to enjoy my time in nature more or with friends and family. And now, it is truly one of my greatest joys to guide others through meditation, or simply enjoy meditation alongside them.
If you aren't quite convinced though, please see some of the below resources for more beginner meditation tips!
Or Check out my mentor, Heather Hayward's Beginner Series on YouTube.
Big Love, Bright Light, and Purely Positive Vibes,