Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 5 steps to successful meditation

The last few weeks have felt very busy.  However, just now I was thinking back trying to remember what made them so busy and I got nothing.  I can't think of a thing out of the ordinary and it is disconcerting.

Although the holidays are fast approaching, I have not done much to prepare.  There isn't much need to prepare as we don't have any huge plans with family or friends. The lights are up and so is the tree.  That's about the extent of it.  I certainly haven't done a lot in the way of housework or any extra shopping and today I find myself a bit at loose ends.  There is plenty to do, but I don't really want to do any of it.

That's sort of childish, right?

But maybe not so much.
Getting my geek on.

I woke up this morning to what I thought was a light fog.  Not until I put on my glasses and looked again did I realize it was actually a light snow shower.  It was a surprise that stopped me in my tracks.  Immediately I went over my to-do list in my mind and came upon several things that will now have to wait until later or perhaps tomorrow.  Things that I probably should have done yesterday 'while I had the chance.'  My internal critic warmed up her shrill voice and started the litany of chastisements: If only you weren't so lazy.  If only you had stopped to think.  If only you had done what you were supposed to do.  If only you were smarter.  If only you were younger....thinner....prettier...stronger...worked harder....

Yes.  In the space of a couple of breaths, I went from seeing snow to being old, fat and ugly.  That's harsh.

The things I really wanted to do today were to run a short errand for dog food and to drop off a couple bill payments.  I can actually do them tomorrow if necessary.  They are things I thought about doing yesterday but put off because I was enjoying my day with my husband and doing some things around the house that needed doing and it was raining and cold and damp.  Ick.  My plans for the weekend did not include pausing for a small snow event, therefore I am stupid, lazy and ignorant.  The more I think about it, the angrier I get.

I am none of those things.  I am getting older and I could lose a few pounds and I'm no cover girl to be sure.  But stupid, lazy and ignorant?  Not so much.

The truly sad thing is that I'm not the only one who does this.

Where does this negative self-talk come from?  How do we let it get so ugly?  And why on earth would we listen to and come to believe such vitriol from our own minds? Why is it okay for me to say things to and about myself that I wouldn't take from anyone else? Why do I accept that this is okay when I wouldn't have a friend in the world if I spoke to others that way?  I don't know the answer to any of that.

The only thing I know is it has to stop.  For me, if not for the whole world, it has to stop.  I think there are lots of reasons that it's gotten so bad for me. It could be a self-esteem thing or a middle age changes thing.  Regardless, it has to end.  I think I may have found a way to stem the tide a bit.


Yeah, it sounded nutty to me, too.  But, what the heck, I sat down and tried it the other day.  I went to my account and found a short meditation video that didn't sound too 'out there' and gave it a go. I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't focus and my mind kept leaping from one topic to another almost frantically.  It was frustrating and I almost gave up until I found a beginner's series on meditation on the same site and I decided to give it another try.

It worked.  It really did.  I was slightly stunned. Just like anything else, meditation requires a foundation of knowledge, a path of practice and persistence.  Here is the foundation, according to Harshada Wagner's beginner's series at yogaglo and so far, it's working for me:

  1. Be kind to yourself.  I could learn a lot just staying at this step for awhile.
  2. Get comfortable.  How you sit or the position of your body isn't important.  Be comfortable so you can stop worrying about doing it 'right' and just do it. If you need to move to get comfortable, move and don't worry about it.
  3. Relax your body.  Tension is distracting and counterproductive.  Of course, if you're comfortable, relaxing will be so much easier.
  4. Connect with your breath.  Let the thoughts that come and go do what they do: come and go.  Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot stop your thoughts completely.  Your breath is your focus.
  5. Let go and be patient.  Like all good things, meditation takes time, practice and patience.  After all, life is about the journey, not the destination.
Meditation does not have to be some esoteric practice limited to some hermits in the Himalayas.  Meditation is a useful tool and can be accessible to anyone who wants to try to use it.

Have you done any meditation?  What is your experience? What tips would you have for someone who is just starting out? 

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