If you are finding it difficult to literally sit down and shut up, consider these four simple things…
Let me begin by stating that I am by no means a meditation wizard; I am a student and a believer in the power of a sitting practice. I enjoy sharing my experience with others in hopes that they find their own spaciousness in whatever way works best for them.
That being said, in the past year I have played around with having a regular meditation practice. Despite the inconsistency of this personal practice (‘cause it’s hard to sit still and shut up when you live in NYC), I find that sitting quietly for even a few minutes gives me tools to use throughout every day.
It helps me find space in between my thoughts, to acknowledge my deepest and sometimes hidden feelings without judgment (this is not always fun), to imply the same non-judgment towards others, and more.
Common things I hear from people who are having trouble starting their own meditation practice are phrases like, “I just can’t stop thinking, I’m not good at it.” Note to everyone: we are humans (not robots), and it’s okay to have thoughts.
The whole point of this practice is to simply find the space in between the chatterbox of the mind so we can access this same practice and apply it to our every day life.
For example: taking a breath before we react to something that makes us angry (i.e. the rage of a morning commute) or taking a break when life gets so jam-packed we can’t see straight (refer to my tips on how to stop comparing yourselves to others in your industry when life gets overwhelming).
Accept the fact that thoughts will arise during your meditation practice—sometimes more often than not—and be open to the spaciousness that can arise amongst them.
If you are finding it difficult to literally sit down and shut up, consider these four simple things that have helped me settle into my own practice. Set it up for yourself, make it easy and accessible, and then just quit making excuses (easier said than done, mind you):
1. A timer. This helps me keep my day on track since I normally have a crazy schedule.
2. A pillow, a block, or a cushion. Something to elevate your pelvis off of the floor.
3. A space to sit (or stand) upright. Even if it’s a small space, even if it’s your office or cubicle, even if it’s a loud space (even better!) or the subway. Just a space. If you prefer to lie down, be mindful of the urge to nod off.
4. Your breath. Duh.
5. Bonus (optional): If you have the means to set up a personal space for yourself, set a candle, object, and/or photo in front of you—something that will support your meditation practice and resonate with you (I have a small Buddha, candle, and a few photos at home).
If you do not have any or all of these things, if you are traveling or are unable to set up a personal space, this does not mean you can’t practice.
On the contrary—it is a chance for you to figure out a way to practice wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Find a way that feels non-threatening to you, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
This is meant to be rejuvenating, not rigid.
Now, close your eyes, bring attention to your breath, and find the spaces in between the thoughts that come floating down your thought river. Then, let them float onward.
What do you think? Can you give meditation a chance?
Peace, love and meditation.
Sasha Nelson is a yoga instructor, certified health coach, dancer and music lover based in Brooklyn, NY. She works with individuals who seek to balance wellness within their modern lifestyle, and teaches primarily vinyasa-style yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan. When you don’t find her doing either of these things she is working for Hyde organic yoga apparel, experimenting in the kitchen, poppin’ and lockin’ and practicing Breakti®. For more information, visit and follow her on tumblr, facebook, or check out her monthly newsletter.
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Assistant Ed: Moira Madden/Ed: Bryonie Wise