I’m participating in a 21 daily meditation program. The other day I asked my husband if he would like to join. He replied ‘I don’t think I can hold the word in my mind that long’. He thought that in order to participate he needed to do this ‘the right way’. I replied, ‘you don’t need to say the word over and over the whole time, I can’t do that either. You can gently bring your mind back to it when you feel yourself getting distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations. It made me think about this idea of meditation being this thing that we achieve with an end goal and how so many people (myself included) feel like we are doing it wrong, then don’t participate.
If you are struggling to start/continue a meditation practice because you feel like you are doing it wrong, you are not alone. Here are some tips that have helped in my seated meditation journey:
- Find a space where distractions are as minimal as possible.
If I have a cell phone near me I will be tempted to look at my email or check my text messages. By eliminating distractions I am able to thoroughly sink in and allow myself to detach, truly bringing my awareness to the present moment.
- There are different types of meditation; Choose the one that speaks to you.
Meditation apps that offer guided meditations help me the most. If you choose to go this route make a conscious commitment to keep your phone as a meditation tool only rather than checking your phone for other purposes. I have ADD so I know that distractions can get the best of me. I know I need to use this time as a dedicated sacred space for myself and my mental health. Having this self-care perspective gives me the willpower to put my life on hold while I meditate.
Gaiam, (http://www.meditationstudioapp.com/) headspace (https://www.headspace.com/), Insight Timer (https://www.insighttimer.com/) are all apps that support my meditation practice. I have a hard time meditating without some support so I found that having someone guide me helped me stay focused.
- Sitting for one minute can be enough
I had an expectation that when I wanted to meditate I needed to sit for at least 5-10 minutes for it to be effective. If I couldn’t be still in lotus pose, seated with finger to thumb creating a blank mind then I wasn’t meditating. I had no idea that mediation could simply be watching my thoughts move in and watching them move out. I realized that the less I attached a number to meditation or the perfect position with my body/mind, the more I enjoyed it. Even one minute of being quiet and still can be enough.
- Mindfulness meditation doesn’t have to be done seated
When I am out for a walk I like to notice the clouds, breathe in the fresh air or notice nature. I also brush my teeth and when I feel myself getting distracted with my ‘to do’ list, I bring my awareness back to what I am doing. I am brushing my teeth, I feel the toothpaste on my tongue and the toothbrush moving around my mouth. If you have a hard time sitting still, mindfulness can be more of a helpful tool/type of meditation than seated.