Meditation. Ah, the practice that sounds good for you but doesn’t seem quite so alluring. I heard about meditation but never really considered it until one day last year. I had broken up with my boyfriend and was grieving over a relationship. I was heart broken.
So what did I do? I hopped on a plane out of the country, headed straight for India. You know, what any normal 29-year-old girl would do. The highlight of my trip was going to Chandigarh and meeting up with my 50-something cousin who had started devoting his life to meditation and teaching it. Time flew by before we could squeeze a session in but his presence and happiness stood out in my mind. I called him when I got back to LA. He explained the fundamentals of the simple meditation he practiced (the same one Buddha used to achieve enlightenment) and talked me through my first session, on speakerphone, oceans away.
I needed some peace in my life at that time and mediation was the form it arrived in. I needed to get away from my thoughts, my relationship and my aching heart. Sounds like Eat, Pray, Love, I know. But sometimes the greatest struggles open the door to something amazing. I spent the next seven months meditating every day for 29 minutes (your age = # of minutes). I would sit with my legs crossed at the ankles and my hands intertwined and ride the waves of my breath.
I think the biggest deterrent to meditating is that people feel like they have to stop their thoughts. This probably won’t happen until you are 89, if you’re lucky. So the first thing is knowing that you will still have thoughts (a lot of them) and that doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. It’s about bringing yourself back to your breath every time you realize your thoughts are wandering, which is about 99% of the time. If you can just sit still and BE without judging what comes into your mind, you will gain something from meditation and elevate every area of your life.
Here are 5 easy steps to meditating:
- Pick an amount of time that works for you. 10 minutes is a good starting point. (It isn’t necessary to do the amount of minutes that corresponds to your age if you feel it will be hard to stick to. The goal is to make sure you’ll do it.)
- Sit down on a comfortable chair or sit cross-legged in your bed. Make sure your ankles are crossed.
- Intertwine your fingers, like you are holding your own hands. Crossing the ankles and intertwining your hands keeps the energy in your body.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath. Every time a thought creeps in, come back to your breath. Feel it flow in, feel it flow out. There’s no need to alter how fast or slow you are breathing. Just be.
Even after 7 months of doing it every day, I had a thousand thoughts, but every once in a while I also had a minute of pure bliss. No thought entered my mind and my heart radiated with love. Sitting down every day is worth this moment to me. Not only is it the most amazing, connected moment; you see where you come from, what your natural state is and you take that into your day.
By committing to the practice, I have found peace and a refuge any time I’m feeling down as well as seen my life elevate to levels I never thought possible. I have a sense of well-being and a knowing that everything is alright. More than alright. I know in my heart, I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for mediation. I’m not saying you still don’t have down days, or off days, that’s life. But you know where to go when you have them and how to access the love that exists underneath everything and every situation. Just try it. Make a commitment to do it every day for a month, even if it’s for 10 minutes…and see where it takes you…