A confession: I really suck at meditating. I want to be good at it, really, I swear. However, I am painfully, consistently, achingly, aggravatingly bad at it.
Here’s the play-by-play: I sit. No distractions, no TV, no dog , no nothing. Just me, myself and I. I try to relax every muscle, gently close my eyes, and just chill. I find a good mantra and go with it. Approximately 35 seconds later, my brain starts playing pictures like one of those Viewfinders from the 80s. (remember those?) And it does not stop. It’s like 75 ticker tapes, 3 carnival barkers, and the Philadelphia Orchestra all playing in my head at the same time. Ugh. At this point, I’m so annoyed with myself that I just give up. And we’re back at square one.
This year, I am bound and determined to change this pattern. I don’t expect to become a Zen master overnight, but a little bit of peace and quiet would be good. I did a little research on the topic and wanted to share with you some of what I found.
The first article I found was from Mary Jaksch’s blog called Goodlife Zen–she’s a Zen Master, psychotherapist, musician, etc.; sounds like the right person to ask, no? I found a great article giving the basics on meditation here. Right away, I saw my first opportunity to improve. Mary says to not try and stop your thoughts, just “acknowledge them like an unwelcome neighbor at your door. Acknowledge their presence, then politely ask them to leave.” Hmm…interesting.
I looked around for a couple books on the subject and found “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn as one of the better books for the beginner. There were a lot of books on the topic, but this one was the most comprehensive and easy to follow in my opinion. Also, just as a side note, there are a ton of different types of meditation–it’s worth doing some self-analysis to find which works best for you.
Now, on to the physicality. The basic setup for a meditation space is just a quiet area, a cushion to sit on, some inspirational, personal items that may help you throughout, and a timer. Another great hint I found is to use a lit candle in your space as a focal point for your gaze. This one is really helpful for me because I always close my eyes and fall asleep. Besides your space, it’s important to look at yourself. Wear comfortable, loose clothes, bare feet, and nothing tight on you at all like bracelets, glasses, headbands, or anything that may make you feel constricted. And……………go for it.
I got a ton of good reminders, tips and ideas to help me improve my meditation practice. I hope they help you, too. If you practice already, definitely let us know some good tips & tricks you’ve picked up along the way.