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November 22, 2013

Why I Don’t Meditate (& What I do Instead). ~ Jennifer Twardowski

A few years ago I was introduced to meditation.

For a good six to eight months I was pretty dedicated. I did guided visual meditations, I did mantra meditations and I did mindfulness practice.

The problem was I found little change or benefit. During the meditations, either I’d fall asleep or my leg would. The process of meditating would just make me very tired or drowsy. Then when nighttime came, I couldn’t fall asleep because I had practically taken a nap or two that day through my attempt to “meditate.”

Additionally, I have never had any “heightened” experiences that so many people talk about. When people have told me that through meditation they feel “more connected” or “complete” within themselves I can’t quite comprehend how others achieve this through a formal meditation practice.

However, I do relate to their experience of feeling that way. I have felt a strong sense of the oneness that seems to transcend time and space. I have felt a sense of presence and support from spirit. I have felt more “complete” within myself and intensely present in the moment.

Struggling with meditation isn’t uncommon. Many of us struggle with falling asleep or how to. What is interesting though is that we often do experience a sense of connectedness in our day to day lives, but we just don’t realize it.

Many people enjoy activities like fishing because of the peacefulness they experience when out in nature. Others claim to experience a “runner’s high” when out running or a heightened state of calm during yoga.

These little activities that we do are natural to feel more connected, but it can feel so natural that we don’t realize what we are doing at the time. Here are some things that I do to get more connected and maybe these can work for you as well.

Exercise.

Taking part in some kind of movement is huge for me. Lately, I have been running, though for years the one thing that I have enjoyed the most is dance. There’s a joy and excitement that comes through with dancing. Once I let out physical energy through exercise, I feel much calmer and relaxed. Releasing some physical energy helps me to see things more clearly and can trigger some creative inspiration.

Listen to music.

Music has always really done something for me. I feel a sense of joy, happiness, love and interconnectedness through it. It doesn’t matter if I’m listen to Michael Jackson or Garth Brooks. Because music is a unique expression of spirit in human form, it works for me.

Creative expression.

Though I do enjoy reading spiritual books and observing the creative work of others for inspiration, there is a much greater richness that comes out of actually creating things myself. Personally, I enjoy writing because it provides me with an outlet to stream all my inner ideas outward.

However, I also find it beneficial to do crafts, sew, paint or do some sort of design work. The process of creation is like meditation because it quiets the mind and provides a sense of peace and clarity.

Keep a dream journal.

For nearly two years now I have kept a dream journal. Though many of us feel that our dreams are just weird and we choose to ignore them, I have found that my dreams are actually very intelligent. My dreams have been able to tell me exactly what I need to be working on and aware of in my development.

By paying close attention to them, over time, I have been able to see and feel a sense of spirit or connectedness. I realized that the more I pay attention to them, the more I can see with clarity.

Keep a close intimate relationship with spirit.

This is tough to remember consistently, but I have found it very empowering and enriching. I pray, I read tarot and oracle cards, I keep a prayer box (write a prayer on piece of paper and put it in the box) and sometimes I’ll just talk to spirit as if it’s just a regular conversation with an old friend. I’ve noticed that the more I focus on my “marriage” to spirit, the more I feel spirit’s presence.

Practice mindfulness.

I did this during my late teenage years, though I didn’t know that it was a mindfulness practice at the time. I will focus intensely on being present and listening to my body.

Soak in the coolness of a morning breeze and the sound of birds chirping. Embrace each sip of green tea. Pay close attention to the feeling of each movement while doing yoga. Take in each moment for all that it has. Let go of this inner push to do and just be.

If I do meditate, it’s quality over quantity. For myself, I have found that the benefits of long and deep guided visual meditation done in a group can last me a week.

When meditating in a group setting, the collective energy of the group doing the meditation makes the experience so much more powerful and enriching.

Like elephant meditation on Facebook.

Assistant Editor: Steph Richard

{Photo: via Pixoto}

Jennifer Twardowski

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