Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meditation for Beginners

(I'm working on my own photos and not others. It's going to take some practice lol.)

Is your mind constantly busy?  Do you need to take some time to slow it down or just turn it off?  Chances are the answer to these questions is yes.  The 21st century (and the one before it) has brought us more noise, distractions and decreased our attention spans to that of a three year old.  Always jumping from one thought to the next.  Twitter to email to Facebook and so on. Hey, I do it too.  If your like me, your mind's constant activity can make you weary.  I also tend to have good ideas and struggle to follow through.  I receive snippets of different ideas and struggle to set my mind to fully carry one out!

I believe yoga and meditation, my version of meditation in my beginning stage, has helped my mind to focus in on and expand one idea at a time.  Along with clear my mind and build confidence.  Wait, don't say it! My spidey senses are tingling! lol.  Let's list some of your questions and concerns. If there are any questions/concerns I have not listed, ask! You never learn anything without asking questions.

"I don't have time to meditate."
"I don't know how to meditate."
"Isn't meditation being crossed legged and chanting 'Om'?" 
"Don't I have to know how to clear my mind?" 

Cliffnotes Version
Yes you do.
You don't have to.

Now for the extended version...
"I don't have time to meditate"
You, or better yet, your mind would like to think so...That's only doubt and fear singing Sweet Nothings.  Cover your ears! I have played their song many times, on repeat, and its finally time for a new one!  I've begun with only 5 - 10 minutes of meditation on days I don't go to the studio.  That's all!  I plan to gradually increase this over time.  For now, I'm happy I take the time at all!  If you can't spend literally 5 minutes for yourself out of the whole day, what does that say?  I'm not being judgemental. I just want to point out 5 minutes out of 24 hours is not a big chunk of anything.  (if you think of it that way, it looks like there really is time, doesn't it?)  Everyone needs time to themselves and should spend time on themselves.  How do you make time?  Where do you meditate?  To answer the first question, you just do.  You make a conscious decision to take time out and you do it. Easier said then done! I Know! Later I will get into how it feels to have your mind struggling against you. As for the second question, Meditate wherever and whenever you can.  It's Your time.  Maybe it's 5 minutes before bed to calm down.  Or 5 minutes after waking up.  Noonday.  Anytime at all! Besides, The point is not when you meditate, it's the fact you've meditated.  The fact you took time to stop whatever was going on and focused on enriching yourself. 

"I don't know how to meditate."
Join the club. :-) .  I'm no guru and that's okay.  Learning is from doing.  Trial and error my friend.  I can, however, tell you what you absolutely need to meditate.  Yourself and a want to do it.  If you don't have those two things, guess what, nothing is going to happen.  It helps to have a place with minor to no distractions as well.  Here is my meditative practice as of now.  Feel free to try it, and/or tweak it to your own liking.

1.) Sit on the floor comfortably.  Or to use a chair instead.  You're back needs to be  straight in the chair or sitting on the floor. Think of yourself as royalty.  Be straight and proud.  Not stiff.  You can cross your legs, have them in front of you, or sit on your heels.  I personally like my legs crossed. Preferably some position that leaves you open, relaxed and comfy.  As for hands, keep them loose, not balled up. You can simply rest them on your knees palms up.  Connect your pointer finger and thumb lightly if that pleases you.

2.) Choose your tunes.  Something relaxing.  I have a couple yoga meditation apps on my phone.  There is plenty of music to choose from anywhere so have at it!  Now, music is Not a must.  My goal is to eventually not be listening to music or to only use it from time to time.  That is MY goal.  If you forever meditate with music, that's alright too.  Make it YOUR practice.  My mind wanders like a lonely drifter...Place to place to place to place. I use music to help shut some of that out.  Also, it's better to end meditation at the end of a song instead of a beeping with some sort of alarm.

3.) BREATHE!  This one calls for italics and bold. (I'm very expressionate so I hope all my highlighting and capitalization is helping and not a distracting. :-) ) Breathing is the key to yoga!  During meditation you are not supposed to use controlled breathing.  You're to follow your natural breath.  This makes sense, the less controlling you are doing, the more you can let go and empty the mind.  At this point in time, I use controlled breathing to help me focus.  Breath in, breath out. In through the nose, out through the nose.  When I neglect this, my mind wanders more. I must admit, I feel sooo good after following my breath and intentially connecting with that extra air!  If you can clear your mind by following your natural breath, go for it!  There is no shame if not.  Again, it's where you are.  There is a phrase "Honor where you're at" used in yoga.  Do just that and you will be fine. 

"Isn't meditation being crossed legged and chanting 'Om'?"
In the last step to my meditative practice you will see there is no mention of chanting.  Chanting in meditation is definitely and option.  Om is the most commonly used word because it stands for the universe.  I will talk about Om later.  Basically, any chanting done is used to focus the mind on one thing then eventually to empty the mind.  I do not chant at the moment. I am interested in chanting though.  Sadly, I am embarrassed to be chanting "Om" or some other word or phrase while I meditate at home due to our cultures stereotyping it, and having my husband hear me.  I plan to get over that feeling.  Especially since a good "Om" can be amazing.  If your in yoga class and the group Om's together its...hard to put into words. But you really do feel connected to everyone in the room.   Through all of the voices,intent and vibrations. Its amazing! 

"Don't I have to know how to clear my mind?"
No you do not.  Yes, the point of meditation is to get the mind clear.  You do not have to already know how to do this to begin.  That's why it's yoga Practice.  It takes time, patience and practice to empty the mind.  Some advanced yogi's I've talked to still have to work on this.  If and when your thoughts go astray, try not the judge yourself for having thoughts or judge the thoughts.  Nobody is perfect.  Push the thoughts away and go back to your breath.  This is not going to be easy and that's okay! One thing I'm learning is to embrace the challenge. 

To sum this up...
I am not embarrassed to say sometimes my mind is like a Rubik's cube that's been all mixed up.  No matter how you twist it, the colors only jumble more instead of steadily and evenly joining all their own colors.  If my strange analogy went over your head, no fear...hahaha.  All I mean to say is sometimes, my mind feels foreign to me.  It's as though its speaking another language.  I don't always know why.  The good thing is, ever since I started practicing yoga and meditating, even for 5 minutes, I've felt some mental differences.  There are more moments I have an idea and expand on it.  This blog is one of those ideas!  Also, fear and doubt are ever so slowly draining away.  I'm taking a chance others will connect with me and share their journey, instead of not trying due to thinking this blog will float around in cyber space  only clicked on accidentally.

It's a good feeling to have control over one's mind and not the other way around.  I still have a looong way to go so I may as well enjoy the ride!  And I do!  You should too!

Namaste my friends, 

~ Writer Yogi

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