Mantra Shmantra: Am I Really Meditating? ~ Lori Wald Compton

Via elephant journal
on Sep 3, 2012
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Do I meditate? I’m not sure.

Here’s what I know: Sit yourself down in a comfortable position. I like to sit on a straight backed chair with my bare feet flat on the floor. No crossed legs or fancy positions.

I place my hands on my legs, palms up. The palms up thing is from yoga: let the universe know you’re ready to receive. I take five or six diaphragmatic breaths. That means when I inhale, my belly expands. I imagine a waterwheel in my body. Inhale, the breath travels up to my head; exhale, the breath spills down.

I try to stay rhythmic and not to work too hard.

Next, I imagine a bright light shining out from my eyes, my ears, my nose, my mouth. It’s important to relax your mouth. I send the light down my neck, both shoulders and arms and all fingers. I send the light down my spine to my legs, including my toes. The light ends in my chest cavity where I try to imagine a colorless, empty space.

This last bit of imagination is impossible and I am okay with that. Finally, I focus on my “third eye” (the light between my eyes that I am able to see with my eyes closed). I repeat a mantra. Something simple like “at ease” or “peace” or the ambitious “Who am I?”

I use the mantra to remind myself to let go of my thoughts.

As a thought passes into my mind, I encourage myself to draw it down to my heart. It helps to imagine a magnetic force from my heart that draws the thought downward. When the next thought pops in, I encourage myself again. It is helpful to treat yourself like you would a small child. Say: “It’s okay, you’ll get it next time,” or “Try again.”

The whole process takes me twenty minutes. I use the first five minutes to breathe and relax my body, then I spend fifteen minutes encouraging myself to meditate. I say I encourage myself to meditate because even though I have been steadily sitting down in this practice for at least three or four times a week for the past five months, I still think that one day I’ll figure out how to do this thing right.

That belief is not rational. No matter. I still wonder: Do I meditate? I’m not sure.


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Lori Wald Compton started a daily meditation practice in February of 2012.  She blogs about her journey at




Editor: Carolyn Gilligan



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16 Responses to “Mantra Shmantra: Am I Really Meditating? ~ Lori Wald Compton”

  1. shana says:

    This makes meditation seem like something I could do! I love the idea of it being attainable, yet perfectable. Sometimes, your head gets so wrapped up in the process and the question that I forget it should help me to simplify my thoughts and being. Thanks for sharing this, Lori!

  2. Adam F says:

    In the fifteen minutes of “true meditation” what do you think about? Do you use a particular memory to put you at ease? Interesting article!

  3. Lori Wald Compton says:

    Hi, Shana. You could do it and when you do, you'll never be sorry. It's the most powerful thing you can do (in my humble opinion) and I hope you give it a try.

  4. Lori Wald Compton says:

    Thanks for asking, Adam F. In that portion of the meditation I let thoughts drift through my head, the goal being not to become attached to those thoughts. When I have an idea I really want to follow up on, I promise myself I'll come back to it later and then I keep my promise.

  5. Ronna says:

    Great blog Lori. I really enjoyed learning about the technique . I wonder if it would help ease headaches.

  6. Lori Wald Compton says:

    Lots of people use meditation to deal with chronic pain and illness. I think it's like chicken soup: it might not help, but it won't hoit.

  7. Judith says:

    Love this post, Lori. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Lori Wald Compton says:

    My pleasure, Judith. Glad you enjoyed!

  9. Emmy says:

    I know what you mean because I have the same feelings. I think meditation is subtle, yet powerful. I think we are doing it and we should keep doing it!

  10. What a wonderful post! I feel as if I could really do this 🙂

  11. Olivia says:

    I love the clarity with which you describe your process of meditating. As a meditator myself, I think we each have our unique way to arrive into a very quiet space that bears gifts. From my perspective, you certainly are meditating! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Lori Wald Compton says:

    The best part about this discussion is the idea of more people meditating. What a good thing for the world.

  13. Lori Wald Compton says:

    Back at you, Olivia.

  14. Lori Wald Compton says:

    Agree! Thanks, Emmy.

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