Ah meditation…the road to enlightenment…to peace, to calm, to serenity…they make it sound pretty good, eh?
If only we could sit down, and completely shut off our minds, then we would find true happiness. We would learn to eliminate all stress, anxiety, and worry. It seems so easy, all we have to do is, well…do nothing!
About a year ago, I decided I would start a daily meditation practice, I downloaded an application on my phone, and planned to sit quietly at the studio everyday and meditate. I thought it would be something to help in the process of starting my own business, to give me time to myself, away from being a business owner and full time mama. So I did it, for ten days! I didn’t miss a day. And guess what? Once I hit 10 days (my personal goal) I stopped. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t enjoy sitting and meditating, it was the thought of completing all ten days that I enjoyed. I began researching alternate ways to meditate, sitting in stillness couldn’t be the only way to quiet the mind, right?
RIGHT! The style of meditation that works for me is movement meditation, and that might work for you as well! There are many different styles, and you can find the one that works best for you. Does this mean that I never sit to meditate, not at all. Sometimes I do like to sit in stillness, other times I like to lie down. It doesn’t have to be the same style, but there are different schools of thought that would suggest a preferential time to meditate: right when you wake up in the morning.
My alarm clock is the sound of a toddler letting me know she is awake, so right in the morning doesn’t work for me. Yes, I tried to set an actual alarm for roughly an hour before she wakes up, giving me time to get my day going and to sit in meditation, uninterrupted. Well, this just makes me a grumpy mama. I don’t like waking up before I have to wake up, and the “have to” for me, is waking up to take care of my daughter. I also didn’t like the feeling of meditation becoming a chore. So I scratched that, and I found something that works for me. I learned to meditate, and so can you!
I want to walk you through a scene, something that is 100% meditation, but may seem a little unconventional in comparison to what you see and hear as “meditating”:
Imagine that you are outside, you’re in a gorgeous field, surrounded by flowers and trees. The air is perfect, not too warm and not too cold. You’re wearing comfortable clothing, but no shoes or socks. The soles of your feet connect to the earth beneath you. This beautiful connection takes place between skin and earth, you are grounded. You begin to walk, not too fast and not too slow. You’re walking at your natural pace, almost like it’s just happening, you’re not doing it, there is no effort. Your eyes are soft, with a gaze at the ground just ahead of your feet. You trust your eyes to protect you, to guide you, to send you on the right path. You notice the arms gently swing by your body, your hair moving in the wind, the step of your left foot, then your right, and back to your left. Now your mind starts to focus on the subtle movement that happens in your belly. The rise and fall around the navel, and how it corresponds to your inhale and exhale. Almost like you didn’t even try, this becomes the only important thing in this moment. You follow your breath.
This sounds like a guided meditation right? You’re sitting on a pillow, legs are crossed, and someone is speaking this out loud, or maybe it’s a recording on your phone. But what if it wasn’t? What if you were actually doing it, what if you were actually walking?
That. Is. Meditation.
There is no rule that says you have to be seated to enjoy the benefits of meditation. In fact, many people can’t sit for this long, whether it’s uncomfortable, or causes you pain, or simply doesn’t allow you to enter a state of being calm. We can look at meditation in a few different categories, let’s look at 4 of them: seated, standing, laying down, and moving. ALL of these are mediation, and one is not necessarily better than the other. It’s what works for YOU that matters.
In seated meditation, you want to be comfortable, sitting on a hard floor in full lotus pose may look appealing to you, but may feel like total punishment. Be kind to your body, grab a cushion or a pillow to sit on, roll up a blanket, sit against a wall, or on a meditation chair. You NEED your physical body to be comfortable here, if it isn’t – then your mind will not settle.
Standing meditation, again, you have to be comfortable. Stand with your feet somewhere between hip and shoulder distance, have a comfortable bend to the knees. And good posture, reach up through the crown of your head, let your spine follow its natural curves, shoulders relaxed.
We follow these same rules for laying down in meditation, be comfortable. Prop your body in a way that relieves any pain or discomfort.
Now the one that many people may not be used to is moving meditation, yes this can bring you the same benefits! A moving meditation could mean your legs are physically moving – walking, jogging, running, biking etc. Or it could mean you are seated, standing, or laying down, and your arms are moving. The beautiful thing about meditation is that you can change it up every day, and I encourage you to follow what your body naturally wants you to do. If you are dreading sitting in meditation for 5 minutes, then it won’t bring you much peace. Listen to your body, what does it need?
Okay, now you have found that comfortable spot. What do you do?! The breath is your magic key here…to calm the mind, we watch the breath. Follow your inhales and your exhales, allow this movement to sink your body into a meditative state. Other forms of meditation include a guided meditation where you are taken through a particular scenario, using mantras to focus the mind, counting with the breath, or Yoga Nidra as some examples.
It may seem like a daunting or impossible task at first, but I promise you, if I can meditate – then so can you.