I don’t have a regular meditation practice.
There—I admit it.
I’m a yoga teacher, yet I don’t meditate on a regular basis.
You know what? I just find it really hard. Is that a terrible excuse? Well, that’s really what it comes down to.
The strange thing is that when I do meditate, I enjoy it immensely. I have had some incredible experiences, sensations and revelations. Yet, I still cannot keep a regular practice.
I practice Ashtanga Yoga, known as a moving meditation, five days a week, where I incorporate meditation at the beginning and at the end of my practice.
Yet, I feel I’m still not going that one step further, sitting on my own, observing my breath, watching my thoughts, feeling the sensations.
Instead of a regular meditation practice, I’m working on incorporating mindfulness into every day activities. Bringing awareness to each moment gives me this great feeling of presence. Paying attention to my physical body has helped ground me and calms me down in times of stress.
Are you also struggling to keep a regular meditation practice?
If so, ask yourself these questions:
#1.Do you really want a meditation practice?
#2. Is this something that will actually benefit your life? If so, how? If it is just something you feel you should do because of articles like this telling you it will transform your life then maybe that’s why you’re not feeling committed to it.
#3. To be able to have a regular meditation practice you’re going to want to do it for yourself, because you can see how it will benefit you.
Can you force yourself into a regular meditation practice?
I’ve tried this, yet it only ever lasts a few minutes, days or weeks before I want to rebel. Seriously, it’s like my inner teenager comes out and ruins the party. Maybe my ego thinks I’m doing something against my will.
Discipline is great, and is needed in these practices, but having to force yourself into something you really don’t feel connected to often ends in failure.
Can you bring mindfulness into every moment of your life?
Maybe a scheduled daily practice isn’t quite what you need at this point in your life? Instead you could start to bring more awareness into your life. Awareness of every moment, awareness of every activity, awareness of every emotion. Maybe just being mindful of the air as it enters through your nose and fills up your lungs, maybe the sensation of the soles of your feet as they walk on the warm sand.
Here are some ways I bring awareness into my everyday life:
Unfortunately, I live in a city where I have to drive, a lot. Sometimes it gets a bit much, I feel confined to the small shell of my car, almost claustrophobic. So I bring awareness to the sensations I feel in that moment. I feel my back against the chair, the sides of the seats pressing against my legs. I feel my hands on the steering wheel and I focus on everything that is happening on the road.
I allow the normal chatter to dissolve as I bring full attention on what is going on outside. I often have moments of true clarity when I’m driving and have actually had some big realizations.
Warning: This can be dangerous if you start focusing too much on your physical body and not so much on what’s happening on the road in front of you!
Whatever it may be—yoga, running, swimming, cycling, weight training—bring awareness to what you are doing. People often say exercise is their form of meditation and I think that’s great. Surprisingly enough, it’s a lot easier to get into a peaceful state when we are physically exerting ourselves – there’s no time for thoughts when you’re sweating like a pig and gasping for air!
Dive even deeper into this awareness, feel that peace and just be with it.
Slow down, take a breath.
Breathing has helped me deal with a lot of anxiety and stress. Just slowing it down, focusing on it completely. Sometimes I have to lie down on my back, place my hands on my stomach and feel the movement of the oxygen as it moves in and out of my body. It really does work every time I find myself overwhelmed with emotion.
Don’t judge yourself.
I will not judge myself for not having a daily meditation practice. I will remove this expectation that as a yoga teacher I am expected be a disciplined meditator.
Judgment towards ourselves is such a wasted and unnecessary emotion, when instead we can just be with what is, accept where we are right now and be ok with it. We don’t have to be master meditators to live a life with presence and awareness.
Right now in this moment I know what’s right for me—awareness, self-love and continuing my yoga practice.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock