Cultivating a Meditation Practice

Cultivating a Meditation Practice

My journey into meditation originally started 2 years ago.  In the midst of a massive Beatles obsession I looked into Transcendental Meditation, the famed technique used by them and many other big named celebs.  I signed up, took the course and began meditating the mantra given to me.  It didn't stick.  I was not ready nor in the right place to begin a meditation practice.  I was doing it for the wrong reasons.

In September, as I've written about in other posts, I began a journey of healing some auto-immune business going on in my body.  Around this time I began dabbling in meditation again.  This time I did not follow a mantra, I opted for focusing on the breath and working at building a stable meditation foundation before journeying into other techniques.  In other words, I needed to learn to sit still.  This was no easy task.

I gave up many times since September.  I tried everything from active meditations to yoga, breathing exercises and even a short lived stint at running.  A revelation came when I realized I was trying too hard and looking for the perfect practice rather than practicing.  Any of the aforementioned methods will work.  They call it a meditation practice for a reason.  It's not easy.  It's not comfortable at first but if you work at it it becomes one of the most rewarding activities in your day.  

During my stints at practicing meditation I once made it 21 straight days.  The last few days were truly amazing; it was starting to kick in.  My anxiety was a long lost friend, I slept better, was more productive and happy overall.  They say your body starts to reprogram at around day 30.  It's funny because I knew it was working yet I stopped.  Why? We're human.  We find something that works and we stop once it starts working out the way we hoped.  Within a few days I was back to my old habits and anxieties.

A mentor of mine stressed how important meditation is in life.  He said if he doesn't meditate in the morning he feels like a drone throughout the day.  I couldn't empathize with that at first.  Apparently every day I felt like a drone and I didn't know.  It wasn't until I started that 21 day journey that I realized how alive meditating made me feel.  He was right, the days following my abrupt stop, I did feel drone-like.  My senses weren't on full blast.  I wasn't as in the moment.  It was then that I realized the stress of the word meditation practice.  I wanted to feel good all the time and that wouldn't be easy.  It would take hard work just like everything else.  Growth comes from adversity and uncomfortable situations.  Mediating wasn't going to be a cookie cutter activity.  It would challenge me and it still does.

I no longer squirm and focus on trying to sit still for the whole practice.  When I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths I'm now transported to a quiet, calm, safe place.  I used to fear that quiet, lotus positioned place of zen that I now look forward to each day.

Through my practice of meditation I now have a place I can go to at any time to quiet my mind and return to the moment.  The simple act of closing my eyes and taking a few deep conscious breaths brings me home.  

I urge you to try and drop the idea that you can't meditate because you can't sit still.  I was in the school of thought that meditation wasn't for me because I couldn't sit still.  We can sit still and it will bring the most benefits.

To get started simply find a quiet space, sit with your eyes closed and behind to focus on your breath.  Sometimes it helps to count 1 in and 2 out.  Apps like Calm and Head Space provide great guidance to get you started with the fundamentals.   


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