In my last acupuncture and massage therapy session*, my acupuncturist gave my some homework: to meditate every day, at least once each day. It’s a tall order.
Here’s the thing: I’ve never been good at meditation. I apparently seriously lack in mental discipline, because I find it incredibly difficult to turn my mind off. I’ve tried meditation in the past, and it’s always felt like a chore. Something that I had to get over with every day. And obviously that defeats the whole purpose of meditation!
When my acupuncturist told me to meditate, I began bombarding her with questions. What time of day should I meditate? How frequently should I meditate? How long should I meditate for? I wanted specific instructions detailing exactly what I should do, so that I could reach the end goal of mental clarity. The process – the journey – seemed like a lot of work. But meditation isn’t about the end goal; it’s all about the process.
My acupuncturist encouraged me to play around with meditation and to find a time of day that felt good to me, and she also said that it’s best to meditate no less than once a day, but as for that last question – the length of a meditation session – she didn’t give me the concrete response I was looking for (“oh, 10 minutes each day will be perfect”). Instead she gave me the best advice I have ever received when it comes to meditation. To paraphrase:
Meditate for as long as it feels good for you. Meditate until you have reached mental clarity and when you feel calm and satisfied. Don’t time yourself.
This was a huge revelation for me. Don’t look at the clock while meditating? What a concept! And so I have been doing as she said. Here are some of the things that I have learned from my first few days of meditating:
- Find a comfortable position. My first time I attempted to meditate after the conversation with my acupuncturist, I started out cross-legged, then lay down with my knees bent, then went into supta baddha konasana pose, and then settled in Savasana. Changing your position really disrupts your meditation practice! Better to get into a good position right away.
- The environment around you matters. If your space around you isn’t tidy, or if it’s not one that you feel at peace in, then you will probably have a challenging time to properly meditate. Clean up your area and choose a place that you feel at home before meditating. (My spot? In our at-home library, seated on a cushion on the floor.)
- Your body can be really loud. The silence of meditation is deafening! I noticed that my heart beat was loud, my breathing was loud, my mind was exceptionally loud, and even things like my stomach were making noises. There is so much to hear when you stop and listen.
- It might take a few tries before you succeed in meditating. My big problem was that every time I emptied my mind, it would only last for a second or two before I’d get excited and think, “Hurray, I did it! I emptied my mind! I’m not thinking about – oh. Crap.” That’s okay! Try again later in the day, or the following day.
The other problem that may occur when you are meditating is that you’ll imagine Alec Baldwin’s character in 30 Rock saying “meditate perfectly!” and you’ll want to giggle. Giggling, in my experience, really takes away from your meditative state. But the more you practice (at meditating, not giggling, obviously), the better you will get!
- If you are someone who really like tracking things and being in control (ooh, me! Pick me!), make a note of the time before getting started. This helped me because although I wasn’t forcing myself to meditate for x number of minutes, I could still look at the clock by the time that my meditation session (or, ahem, my attempted-meditation session) was complete and be aware of how long I was doing it for. I’ve found that I usually meditate (or attempt to meditate) for five to 10 minutes before I get up.
- Using an acupressure mat after meditating can make you feel AMAZING. I started using my Heavenly Acupressure Mat the second time I tried meditation – just lying down on it after my meditation session – and I’ve found that the combo of meditating first, followed by lying down on an acupressure mat immediately afterwards, gives me that same “high” that I talked about in my first acupuncture blog post. The combination of meditation and the acupressure mat are now essentials to my day!
And that’s it! My tips for getting started with meditation. Have I missed anything? What would you add here? Have you meditated before? Why or why not? Share in the comments section below!
*For those if you in and around Winnipeg and looking for a fantastic acupuncturist / massage therapist, check out Ankyo Massage Therapy! They are wonderful.
When I try to meditate and empty my mind, I fall asleep for about 10-15 minutes. Not sure if you can call that success or not, but it feels good!
You are absolutely correct about being surrounded by “calm”. My home/kitchen/living room must be “in order” before my mind can become uncluttered. I tend to sit in a comfortable chair, with feet up on a stool; but also have good success meditating immediately AFTER a yoga session (I do yoga privately at home, calm, quiet, peaceful, still) when I lie down in Savasana (“Corpse pose”).
Great post Sagan!
Thanks for this, I love ” “Hurray, I did it! I emptied my mind! I’m not thinking about – oh. Crap.”
That is so totally me!
Also, just wanted to let you know I tossed a link into todays Cranky Fitness post since we seem to be pretty much on the same page. 🙂
It’s amazing how much more challenging meditation is when you’re distracted by the excitement of actually DOING it, isn’t it?!
And thanks for the link love 🙂
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The first time I did a guided meditation, I experienced timelessness. I think all my years of running, which I feel is a moving meditation, is the reason it came so easily. I do not think walking is the same. Why? The breath is not the same. The breath is key to meditating.
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