My secret to meditation success
For the last several weeks, I’ve been trying to meditate every day, usually in the morning before I get crackin’ on my computer. Meditation can be a funny thing. As soon as the word comes up, most people fall into one of two categories: either they commend your efforts and wish they had the discipline to meditate regularly, or they think you’re a pretentious weirdo. (For the record, my discipline is atrocious, I am a weirdo, and whether or not I’m pretentious is probably up to you.) Meditation can be a silently polarizing topic, which is crazy when you consider that it comprises of sitting down and doing nothing at all. What could possibly be more neutral than that?
Still, sitting down to meditate can be one of the hardest things to do.
Just sit here? You want me to sit here and do nothing at all? Like, not a thing?
Why is it so hard?! Back when I was going through my yoga teacher training in 2009, part of our ‘OM’work (yogis love puns) was to meditate every day to help us stay open and grounded. I never did it. Then, our instructor gave me the personal ‘OM’work to meditate double the time we had originally been assigned. I didn’t do that either. It’s not that I didn’t want to meditate; I just found myself procrastinating, promising myself to do it a little later in the day, or maybe right before I went to sleep, or, hey, at this point I might as well just wait ’til tomorrow. And so on.
Part of the problem was that I didn’t realize that meditation is actually a lot like yoga. There are lots of different styles and techniques, and I simply wasn’t using one that was right for me. Everybody told me that the best time of the day to meditate is right after waking up. So every time I tried to meditate, I stumbled right from bed to chair, set a timer, and sat in silence for the next several minutes. Inevitably, I fell right back asleep until the timer went off, and if it was a really good day, I just shut the timer off and went back to bed. Clearly, that was not my ideal meditation strategy.
Recently, though, I’ve been making some progress with guided meditations that I got for free online. My favorite ones come from Deepak Chopra, who regularly offers 21-Day Meditation Challenges for the spiritually inept like myself. Each one lasts around 15 minutes and starts out with a fun little nugget of thought to help you get in the right mindset for meditation. These “Centering Thoughts,” as he calls them, include “I use my conscious intention to manifest my dreams,” and “I create my personal abundance from an infinite source.” Now that I write them out, they look a little heavy, but Deepak gives a nice little pep talk to help put each one into perspective. Finally, there is a little time for ‘going into the silence,’ although they always provide some white noise to remind you the recording’s still on. After five minutes or so, our pal Deepak wraps things up by restating our centering thought, then he pushes us out of the nest and into our day.
I’ve been pretty consistent with Deepak’s meditations for almost a month now because I’ve shifted the responsibility of setting the timer and coming up with some perspective onto him instead of me. I’ve also figured out that I need to give myself about 10 minutes to wake up before I start, and I allow myself a little crutch by holding a mug of coffee in my hands during the meditation. Sometimes I don’t even drink it, but just knowing I’ve got a warm cup of life blood in my hands helps me feel like I can get through the next 15 minutes of not doing anything. It’s my meditation security blanket, and if you have any interest in trying out meditation for yourself, you might want to find one, too.
Even though I’ve only been meditating a few minutes each morning, I must say I’ve been finding myself more even-keeled and open-minded throughout the day. Whether you want to meditate or not is none of my beeswax, but if you are interested, you can check out the Chopra Center meditations here. For some reason, Oprah got involved this time around, so you’ll have to deal with her brief but unnecessary summary before each meditation. Or, if Oprah makes your ears bleed, just go find a nice quiet place to sit down for a few minutes and empty out your brainspace. Just make sure you set an alarm to wake you back up.
Oprah gettin’ all up in my meditation business
Curious about meditation? Have questions or comments? Post ’em below!