Meditation is often associated with the ideal: someone sitting cross-legged in a secluded room for hours of undisturbed silence. Then when you sit down to try yourself, you realize how difficult and uncomfortable it can be.
Your nose itches. You notice the fly in your room. You’re thinking about lunch. Unattended emails. Maybe you’re thinking about how you look on the outside: do you look like someone who meditates?
In order for us to enjoy the practice, we must take meditation off of its pedestal.
It takes mental strength to sit alone with your thoughts. And I used to believe that I was a failure for not being able to stay quiet in solitude for hours. I learned that— there is no right way to meditate. It is meant to be catered to you, and what you are wanting to accomplish by setting aside time for yourself.
If you are new to running, it’s unlikely you will run a 5K on your first day. With most things, you must build your foundation first. Find what feels good. And enjoy the practice. The same goes for meditation.
One way to start is to take the present moment to reflect and turn inward. It can give us time to rest our mind and or allow it to meander. Or it can give us time to connect with our breath. Even simply asking yourself in the moment, how am I feeling? This is more powerful than it seems.
When you abandon this idea of how you think you should meditate, you realize that you can meditate anywhere/anytime. On the subway, or train, while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, in the morning, before bed, or on a short walk— meditation can be incorporated into your daily life.
Start simple. Become aware of the present moment and connect to your breath. Inhale, hold your breath for a few counts, and exhale slowly. During times of chaos or stress, taking a moment to breathe and think can change how you feel about your day.
Just take a moment to listen to the sounds around you. Maybe express small tokens of gratitude to lift your spirit. You can thank the sun for giving you a nice warm day, or if its raining, thank the rain for bringing some solace and peace, and acknowledge that sun would not be as nice if there wasn’t a little rain once in awhile. Acknowledge sounds around you. People chatting. The man flipping his newspaper. The sipping of coffee. If things are loud, know that those noises aren’t permanent. And if it’s quiet, be thankful that you’re given this moment to enjoy in peace.
And if everything seems to be too much, and you can’t think of something to be thankful for, just thank your body for getting you up in the morning, and carrying you to where you are now. And hope for a peaceful day.
This is meditating. As minimal and informal as it is, it’s a way to help clear your mind. You do not have to be cross-legged sitting in a quiet room four hours of introspection, but you can be. In time. For now, enjoy meditating in small moments, and you will find that the practice will grow into something beautiful.