Meditation can be daunting and elusive.
When I first started to meditate, I was in my late teens and I thought that I was supposed to sit still and my mind would quiet.
That’s what I was told anyway.
I went to temples and meditation classes all over Dallas and Los Angeles and had the same AWFUL experience again and again.
I would sit, follow my breath, and my body would start to ache and hurt. My fears, thoughts, and feelings would all come screaming to the surface of my awareness and I felt like I wanted to yell and jump out of my skin. It was the opposite of pleasant.
Looking back, I’m not sure how I kept trying, because it was a little bit of torture to experience the physical and mental pain when I tried to “meditate.” But, people I admired swore by this mediation thing and I was determined to find out what this magical “peaceful mind” was all about.
THEN, I met a teacher (the amazing Erich Schiffmann) and he explained meditation in a way that finally made sense! Hallelujah.
He said (something like this):
- Make your body comfortable. (BTW, the reason people started doing yoga in the first place, was to prepare their body for meditation.)
- RELAX your body. Stop gripping and holding tension, where ever possible. If you can’t relax sitting up, then lie down.
- Now, soften your body from head to toe.
- Then, begin to experience your breath.
Notice it making space inside of you.
- Next, just see how still you can be. Don’t hold yourself still, but relax into stillness.
- The idea isn’t to make thoughts go away, it is to be at peace with them. When you do notice thoughts, just let them be. You don’t need to figure anything out or attach to anything.
- Whenever you think of it, be with your breath.
Ahhh, all of sudden things became clear!
My body didn’t hurt and I was able to be still. I started noticing the quiet between my thoughts. And, when I stayed relaxed, (and didn’t get too excited about my mind being quiet!), the quiet would expand and a beautiful feeling, unlike any other I’ve ever experienced, would occur.
Erich suggested that his students have a homework assignment:
Meditate for ten minutes a day.
If you wanted to do more, by all means, go for it; but just commit to sitting for ten minutes, at some point during the day.
I thought, I can actually do that! It felt doable and so I was able to do it. I would set a timer and have ten sacred minutes to breathe and relax. It was life changing. Often, I sat for longer.
I began to realize that I had a heart-felt desire to connect with myself. My TRUE self. Not the parts of me (like my thoughts, my feelings, my body, my story, etc.) that tried to present themselves as ME, but the TRUE me.
The me that exists when all of the ego dissolves.
And, hey, when you realize that you are pure shining light and love, it becomes easier to feel peaceful and tap into the quiet that always resides down deep.
Science has proven how we benefit from this practice. It is real. Your brain actually changes for the better.
Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
And like life, meditation can be simple, if we let it.
So, if you have struggled with meditating or the thought of trying it, there is a way to make it approachable…. Doable…. Even pleasurable. If you can just give it a go, with loving kindness leading the way, you will receive gifts you can’t yet imagine.