by Eileen Spillane
When people find out I teach meditation, I often hear responses like this one: I tried meditating but I just wasn’t good at it. My mind kept wandering off. New flash: Everyone’s mind wanders off, even The Dalai Lama!
Meditation is hard in the beginning. If you want something easy, go run a marathon. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve done four Ironman triathlons. That means I ran a marathon after I swam 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles (in the same day). My point is, taking on a meditation practice is no joke and it requires a commitment – and you can ease into it.
If meditation interests you, can you commit to dedicating 5 minutes for 5 days this week? Put in a little effort and drop your expectations. Over achievers need not apply. Set a timer for 5 minutes, turn your phone off, sit somewhere you can be undisturbed for a bit, place your hand on your belly and tune into the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe. Each time you discover your mind has wandered off, congratulate yourself – you are being mindful! You are bringing awareness to the present moment. Woohoo!
My other suggestion involves using your hearing sense. Find a place that you can sit for 5 minutes at home, at work (depending on your environment) or outside. Set a timer for 5 minutes and forget about focusing on breathing, leave that to your autonomic nervous system. Focus only on sounds. You can listen to the sounds within your body (heartbeat, grumbling of your stomach, congestion, sneeze, cough, sounds of your breath, creaking of your body if you shift). Allow the sounds to just come and go. You can shift awareness to external sounds in the environment such as a clock, ventilation system, alarms, conversations in the distance, horns or sirens in traffic, birds chirping, cats purring or dogs barking.
For those that can’t tolerate even five minutes alone with your mind sitting still, you may find walking or running is your answer. Can you leave the music behind and take in the environment or just feel your feet striking the ground? Other activities such as surfing, rock climbing, yoga or a martial art quiet the mind and bring you into the moment.
If you refrain from multi-tasking, painting, crocheting and knitting can be very meditative. They also offer plenty of opportunities to practice patience. If I had a dollar for every row of knitting I pulled out!
Nobody ever comes to meditation because they’ve heard its fun. You’ve probably heard it can chill you out, take the edge off your anxiety or stress, decrease your blood pressure, ease your pain...and you are right, it can! There are plenty of books on mediation but reading will only get you so far. You didn’t get good at IV insertion by reading about it; it clicked after you got some practical experience. Meditation takes practice.
How bout five minutes today?