Have you ever thought or said, “I don’t know how to meditate? I can’t meditate? I can’t sit still for long periods at a time?”
The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. For some, it could involve walking through a park near to their home, for others it could mean sitting in a quite place in their garden with eyes closed and focused on their breath.
The way we meditate is completely unique to each of us. This also includes what we experience during the meditation. There is no Garden of Eden on the other side you’re meant to see. This isn’t how it works. For me, when I’m in a deep state of meditation, my thoughts are very quite and my focus is on me and me alone. But this may only last for a moment or two before my monkey mind starts up again. These are the times when I gently remind myself to return to focusing on my breath and attempt to maintain the stillness. Some days I can be totally focused and aware, whilst other days I can be all over the place. This is absolutely normal and to be expected. If you find there is a day where you are really struggling to keep the focus, rather than tell yourself messages like, “I can’t meditate,” take some time to observe what is going on for you during this period of your life. To understand the events/experiences/stressors that could be distracting you. For example, you may be worried about a project at work, had a fight with your partner the night before, slept poorly… These daily experiences all impact upon our physical and emotional states, and therefore our ability to concentrate.
Through experience, I’ve found that learning to sit still is crucial to reaching the next level of meditation. How many times have you tried sitting cross legged on the floor and found that after a couple of minutes the back or knees get sore, then suddenly your attention is on the pain rather than your breath? Believe me, I know what this is like. I’ve been through this many times!
Unfortunately, in the west especially, we tend to sit at desks all day every day. At home we eat dinner at the dining room table. We sit on couches to watch movies. This way of sitting causes our hips to close and weakens our spine, making it very uncomfortable and often painful when we try to sit on harder surfaces.
The key is to practice sitting cross-legged on hard surfaces and gradually increase your tolerance. For example, sit on the floor while working on your laptop, reading a book or eating dinner. Once you learn how to sit correctly, your ability to meditate and remain focused will become so much easier.
Rather than trying to force meditation, it will just naturally happen.
Your meditation will extend from 5 minutes to 10, to 20, to an hour or more if you so choose. Whilst I would like to say there is an easy fix for this – there really isn’t. But your determination to strengthen the spine, open the hips and improve your overall body awareness will encourage you to keep practicing this technique. What I can promise – with regular practice, you will quickly reach a stage where sitting correctly without support becomes effortless. From here, not only will your meditation will be amazing but also your body will become so much stronger and healthier for having learned this. So simple but so powerful.
As a final word, use your meditation as an opportunity to deepen your self-awareness. Should you lose your focus, gently allow yourself to return to the breath, repeatedly if necessary. Because remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. And if you find sitting a real challenge, gradually increase the duration of the meditation. Quickly it will become your favourite part of the day.
I would love to hear about your experiences with meditation. What do you feel is your biggest challenge with meditation? Be sure to comment below.
Sending much love to you all.