A year ago, it looked like I had a pretty good life.
I was a vegetarian who practiced yoga daily and rode my bike to work. I was proud of my life, but I felt like something was missing. On the outside, I’d been nailing the yogic lifestyle to a T—but inside, I was a dark, reeling mass of turmoil.
When a friend suggested meditation to help calm my mind, I was intrigued.
But like anything we encounter in life, starting a new habit isn’t as easy as it seems. I faced many hurdles when I started my meditation practice. Here’s what I wish someone had shared with me when I first started.
Hurdle #1: Meditation is Not a Race.
It seemed like everyone and their mother had a different take on the “right way” to meditate. Each new style promised to be a faster route to enlightenment than the last. But the purpose of meditation isn’t to get to some imaginary place faster than the next person, it’s to find compassion for ourselves and others in each moment. And no matter what anyone else says, we should never forget that we are the masters of our own fate.
>> Let go of competition. One of my friends is a big believer in Transcendental Meditation®. I’m super happy for her, but that meditation was not for me. At the end of the day, we’re all on our own path.
>> Try different meditation styles. The classic stereotype of sitting in a perfect lotus pose while meditating never worked for me. I found my groove with active Kundalini meditation. What works for one person doesn’t have to work for all.
>> Don’t spend energy on judgement. There are many opinions about the right and wrong way to meditate. However, I realized that meditation is one of the last places to pass judgement. It’s hard to let go of strong feelings, but it ultimately serves us better when we move on.
Hurdle #2: Ready or Not, Meditation will Change your Life.
The saying “old habits die hard” quickly became my daily mantra. I thought I was alone in feeling this way until I learned that my meditation teacher had gone through the same experience. Opening up to new opportunities can be scary at first, but I’m here to say it can be done.
>> Don’t look to the past. Instead of relying on old habits, I started to look for new opportunities to grow. Difficult situations will turn into learning opportunities if we just reframe them in our minds.
>> Stay informed about the present. Before I started meditating, I’d go home, put on Netflix, and forget about the world. Now I check in with the news and stay up to date on current trends. It’s still scary to tap into the collective consciousness, but meditation helps make it possible.
>> Know that life will change. Sure, I was comfortable in my old life, but I wasn’t going anywhere. The more I let go, the more I realized that I already had everything I needed to make me happy. If we surrender to the change, new (and better!) opportunities will come.
Hurdle #3: Meditation is Not the End Goal.
After I’d been meditating for a year, I was ready for radical life changes to come my way. But those new changes didn’t happen with a bang. They developed over time, just as my practice did. Sometimes, the biggest goal is learning to accept things as they are.
>> Forget the clock. Trust me on this one. When I approached meditation from the mindset of “I must do 20 minutes today or else,” meditating quickly became a chore. By focusing on the quality, not the quantity, meditation quickly becomes much more beneficial.
>> Ruts are not required. Remember how everyone and their mother has a view on the right way to meditate? Well, following only one meditation style for life isn’t necessary. We don’t all need to be my friend in Transcendental Meditation®.
>> Each meditation is different. Some days, I spend a blissful half hour chanting “Om,” while other days, I’m crying after five minutes and calling it quits. Meditation is different each day, and that’s part of the beauty of the process.
Even with all its bumps, I wouldn’t trade my meditation journey for the world. No matter what we face in meditation, know that it’s here to help us get stronger.
These days, my mind is no longer in constant turmoil—and I hope yours won’t be either.
Author: Sonja Wright
Image: lion heart vintage/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman