Meditation had always seemed an obscure practice for me, something the very enlightened did as a part of their highly disciplined lifestyles — run 10 miles before dawn, meditate an hour before the incredibly productive work day, or something like that. And while that sounded amazing, I didn’t see a need to replace my morning ritual, as stumbling to the kitchen, wild haired and bleary eyed to consume a full 24 ounces of Colombian brew worked well for me.
But as I learned the astounding benefits of meditation (everything from preserving the aging brain to dialing down chaos and forming positive internal connections), I realized the practice was something I desperately needed.
Upon studying the benefits of meditation, researcher Madhav Goyal, MD, said, “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing, but that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness.”
So I tried it. Here’s what happened.
Meditation Attempt (Take One)
I assumed the position (cross legged) on the carpet in my bedroom. It was early morning and the house was quiet.
I closed my eyes. I opened my eyes. I closed my eyes again.
I focused on my breath. In. Out. In. Out.
My nose itched.
Thoughts began buzzing — mosquitoes in my mind.
A voice in my head said:
“This is a disaster…
Meditation is for Monks, not monkeys.
Will I see dead people?
Why is that eerie song from the X Files playing?
I can’t do this.
That picture is crooked. Oh, god, I need to adjust that picture…”
And that was my first failed attempt at meditation. There were many following, and I continued to be frustrated with my lack of focus and inability to tame my unruly thoughts. Then, I realized I had it all wrong. Meditation is not about standing at the shit storm of your mind, staff in hand, and working miracles like Moses to part the Red Sea.
I started to see myself not fully escaping my whirling thoughts as I attempted to meditate, rather taking a journey within and becoming a peaceful observer of my own musings.
All day long we’re surface thinking. Our hands our probing the textures of our day, our thoughts are consumed with fact finding, problem solving, and formulating answers to questions like, “How’s the budget?” and “Where’s my other black sock?”
When we meditate, we strip the surface layers and allow our souls to undress, our minds to explore the space between our thoughts.
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Ready to dive in?
Here are some tips to Meditate for Beginners:
- Start with 3-5 minutes daily, assuming a comfortable position in a quiet place
- Focus on your breath, and the sensations it brings to the body
- Don’t be concerned with thoughts that arise, experiencing a random barrage of thoughts is normal
- Become a spectator in your own mind, watching your thoughts tumble in and out
- Redirect your attention back to your breath
** Try walking meditation, where you allow nature to fill your mind, stimulate your senses and push out anxious thoughts pertaining to work, obligations, etc.
Remember: Meditation is a personal journey, so find what works for you. Expect some trial and error.
Mantra: Meditation is not a matter of becoming; rather it’s the act of observing that which already is.