If I had a penny for every time someone has said to me over the years that they don’t know how to meditate correctly, let’s just say I wouldn’t need to buy a ticket in tonight’s $80 million Powerball.
Meditation is, funnily enough, the second most frequent thing I get asked about. (First is how to self-publish a book – which I kind of fluked – so still don’t really have all the answers to!).
But here’s the thing. So much of life is about doing, giving, creating, making, fulfilling, achieving, etc. What if you approached meditation as simply time for being and RECEIVING?
From early on, life conditions us to believe that there is a right and a wrong way to do things. But the good news is, there is no place for that in meditation. You cannot do it wrong. Our daily lives require us to be in our heads so much, that many seek to approach meditation with that same action or goal-orientated approach. I see meditation however, as the opportunity to get OUT of your head and into your heart space. Here are some pointers for getting you started (or re-started 😉)
See it as an exploration
Meditation is a very personal, individualised process. What works for someone else, might not be what works for you. Similarly, what works for you one day may not work the next day, week or month. Learn to be okay with the inexact science of exploration.
“Thinking” during meditation does not mean you are doing it wrong!
I went to the gym yesterday to do a final workout and attend meditation class before Melbourne re-entered a 6-week COVID lockdown at midnight. The teacher started the class by saying:
“THINKING IS NOT A HINDRANCE TO YOUR MEDITATION. THINKING THAT THINKING IS A HINDRANCE TO YOUR MEDITATION, IS THE HINDRANCE TO YOUR MEDITATION.”
As soon as she said it, I was like YES! I had a (socially distanced) chat with her after the class and she told me it was one of her favourite quotes too and that she nicked it off some other cool Yogi guru who’s name she couldn’t pronounce.
So if you find yourself “thinking” during meditation, maybe that thought needed to be heard? And it wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to be heard if you had been rushing around busy all day? The human brain is a very active thing, and the aim of meditation isn’t to get it to stop (that could pose serious problems!), but instead to be present with yourself, and ultimately go further within. When I first started meditating over 12 years ago, I was hyper-aware of my overactive mind, and spent most of the guided meditation kicked myself for not listening properly, or getting distracting by my thoughts. Being so acutely aware of how ‘wrong’ I was doing it, prevented me from getting much out of it. Once I learnt to love and accept my active mind, instead of trying to judge or control it, it became easier and easier to allow it to quieten down. These days, I can get from my busy mind down into the stillness of my heart in less than a minute and just using my breath… but it has taken a little practise to get to that point.
Meditation is the gateway
As I mentioned earlier, meditation is the access point to get from the busy-ness of the mind to the peace and quiet of your heart space. For those that have never felt what it’s like to be in your heart space, the best way I can describe it is a feeling of complete connection to the innate love and wisdom of your soul and therefore the universe/all that is. I know, for some of you this might sound a little woo-woo. I would never expect anyone to believe anything without first trying it for themself, so my invitation to you is simply to keep an open mind. Being in this space for me feels like peace, expansion, love, connection, and inspiration. I also feel a much closer connection to my Angels and Spirit guides. The quietness of the mind allows the volume of your intuition to be turned up, so it’s no surprise that this is where I receive the most clarity and intuitive insights. I never make important decisions without consulting the inner world first.
This is the part where I come clean and admit that quite often I will listen to a guided meditation, with no intention of following the meditation. The one I went to at the gym yesterday was a 45 minute class, where she guided us through a body relaxation meditation. I couldn’t tell you a single word of what she said after the 5 minute mark. At that point, the space, her words, and the intention was enough to create the gateway for me to quickly and easily move into the inner world and block out whatever else was going on around me. However, in the early days, having the structure of a guided meditation really helped me to become more comfortable and familiar navigating that inner world.
But what if I fall asleep?
You wouldn’t be the first! They have done numerous studies of people that have fallen asleep while listening to hypnosis or meditation tracks and found that the sub-conscious mind still registers the words and receives the benefits anyway. How good? You are probably likely to get a different sort of experience staying awake vs falling asleep, so I wouldn’t recommend sleeping 100% of the time, but even just knowing that if you do fall asleep, it’s still having benefits, is a huge plus.
A good place to start is to experiment with different guided meditations. Try to find one you like, but don’t be too worried if you can’t follow every word or feel your mind wandering. Also, in my honest opinion, there are a LOT of average ones out there. I get the most out of meditation time when I have the freedom and space to get in touch with my soul consciousness, so someone constantly talking can be annoying. These days, I enjoy putting on some relaxing, high vibe music – I find it way more effective and less distracting. But again, it’s different for everyone, so find what works for you. YouTube has a plethora of meditations and relaxing music tracks, so there is no shortage of choice. And remember, it’s not about doing it right, achieving something, or getting to a destination. It’s about allowing yourself to receive more peace, love, guidance, and a sense of calm in your life.
You might even find at first, that you don’t feel any profound shifts or great benefits from meditation, and start convincing yourself that you have somehow found the way to do the impossible and meditate “wrong”. Hang in there, you are learning to connect to previously un-known parts of yourself, and it is worth persisting. In the very least, you should be experiencing some of the physiological and stress-busting benefits of taking some quiet time out for yourself too.
I look forward to hearing your experiences with meditations and any specific things that have worked for you 😊