Over the last few years I have read and heard a lot about meditation. While I have always been super interested in the benefits of meditating, I have struggled to actually meditate. I put time aside, sit down, close my eyes, tune into my breathe, start fidgeting and give up about 1- 3 minutes later. This is a very frustrating process that I have repeated for a few days at a time before giving up on the whole meditation thing.
This past year I completed my 500 hour yoga teacher training. One of the reasons that I picked this particular program was because of the requirement to mediate for 30 minutes everyday. While I am embarrassed to admit this, I did not mediate even half that time. For whatever reason I find meditation extremely uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. I can’t easily sit in a traditional meditation posture, which makes me fidget. Also like most people, I have a hard time ignoring my thoughts or letting my thoughts go. I can focus on my breathing for maybe three breathes before my mind starts to wander. I usually end up more agitated after trying to meditate which is obviously the reverse of the intended effect.
Since I started graduate school, my schedule has gotten a little intense. I have school, classes that I teach and a part-time job at a non profit. My schedule is often erratic with working weekends, so I never really feel like I am studying enough. I also had a hard time switching gears between work, studying, teaching and then a social life. At the end of 2014, I was frazzled and stressed out. Since there is not a lot in my life that I want to change or give up, cutting back on teaching or school were not viable options. I needed a permanent solution to the stress which brought me right back to meditation. Since the first week of January I have been meditating for 10 minutes everyday. So what has changed between now and every other time that I have tried? Here are a few things that have really helped me.
1. Set up a meditation spot. I put a cushion on the ground right next to the wall with a little journal and kitchen timer. Same spot every time.
2. Use a kitchen timer. Keep it in your spot. This way there are no excuses and as soon as you sit down you are ready to go.
3. Sit comfortably. Don’t try and fight your body while you are trying to calm your mind. If you need to lean against the wall, do it. If you want to lay down, go for it.
4. Similar to a yoga practice, meditation will feel different every day. Don’t worry about it. Just do your 10 minutes and then move on with your day.
5. Don’t. Open. Your. Eyes. This is the fastest way that I give up. As soon as I open my eyes, it’s over. Even if I can’t focus on my breath any longer and I am slumped against the wall, I stay there with my eyes closed no matter what for 10 minutes. It is definitely not the prettiest meditation, but it is consistent and I am working on it, which is all that matters.
I have also started to keep a journal next to my mediation spot in case I get a great idea or remember something on my to-do list. This way I can immediately write it down without worrying that I will forget it. You would be surprised what pops up when you trying to quiet your mind.
Would you try these tips? And do you have any tips for meditation?
Also by Nina: Why Your Yoga Teacher is Just Like You
More meditation tips: Power of Metaphor: Easiest Way to Become More Mindful
Photo: momo via Flickr