Full disclaimer up front. I am terrible at meditating. I am the kind of person whose mind is literally thinking about ten thousand different topics, how they could all be improved and how they are all connected, all the time. I continually begin to learn how to meditate every day as I never truly feel as though it is something that comes easy to me, nor is it easy to find space in the day ever day to sit on a zen like mat in a still room without a child or an animal jumping on me for various reasons. I have had to get over the fact that I am not a perfectly calm, still, mindful person. But I am trying and I believe that is even more important. Getting in to a calm, level headed frame of mind has always been challenging for me. My life has been so chaos for as long as I can remember, so I do take stock of the fact that even sitting for 30 seconds in stillness is an absolute feat. Do not feel bad at all if you feel like you and I share this in common. It does not mean meditation is out of reach, it does not mean that we are lost causes, it just means we have an opportunity to try again, every single time.
Meditation is for us and no one else. Yes I truly believe that mindfulness and meditation will definitely help to heal us, to become more connected with who we truly are as beings in this incredibly fast paced, digital, instantaneously gratifying society. That does not mean I have the luxury to dedicate massive chunks of my life to becoming the be all and end all of the practice. I have so many jobs, so many commitments and that too is part of who I am. Acceptance.
Here is a very simply way to start meditating, even if by “starting” this is your fifty thousandth attempt. I absolutely applaud your perseverance, and my own. I will not give up on you, or myself-so know we have that in common.
- Find somewhere comfortable to sit. If you have a floof or a cushion, feel free to try that. If you have a space outside and the weather is amicable-try that. If you have a bare floor, try that or if you are more comfortable anatomically in a chair or couch, by all means-snuggle your bum in. The emphasis is on finding a sitting position that is comfortable.
- Don’t worry about what you are doing in the sitting position, or what is happening around you. Try to dial back into just feeling your bum sitting where it is sitting. Close your eyes, or focus on an inanimate object in your line of sight. Some people really dig having a lit candle in front of their face (on a table some distance away, I don’t recommend being so close you singe nose hairs). Some people like to have soothing music in the background-I’m sure there is enough literature to counter indicate this but please, do what makes you feel good. There is no meditation police that will come knocking.
- Try sitting for 30 seconds the first few times. If you make it to a minute or two that is awesome. The key here is to get into some kind of ritual that helps to tell your brain it is ok to shut off, to press pause, to slow down, even just 6% less than what it is at. For those of us that have experienced things like anxiety or panic attacks we understand the value of becoming acutely aware of the senses when things start ramping up.
- You can always try the body sensory thing wherein once you are sitting you begin by feeling where your feet are, in relation to the rest of your body. Are they touching the ground, are they under your knees, are they wearing socks? And then work up the body, simply focusing on an ascending region of the body, and feeling the breath go in and out of the body.
- Ah yes, the breath. Focus on the breath. If you have not spent time doing such in the past, I do highly recommend spending some time on this. I will work on some YouTube videos describing different breathwork techniques if you are so inclined to try. Nothing fancy, just remember to make sure you are getting air into and out of your lungs on a steady basis. Feel your ribcage expand as you inhale, feel every tiny little space inside each cavity of your lungs fill with warm, vibrant and delicious air. Feel that air pressing and expanding your ribcage outwards until you pause, and gently release the air back out your nose (or mouth). With each breath you may want to relax a different part of the body, especially those pesky shoulders that seem to always inch up my neck, closer and closer to my ears. Tension shall be released one muscle fibre at a time with each inhalation and exhalation.
- Thoughts are going to come swirling into your mind, especially if you are anything like me. Don’t worry about it. This does not make you a bad person, this makes you human. All we have to do when this happens is observe that it is happening, let it be and run its course, and send it on its’ way.
Literally even if I just take a minute at work or wherever I am, when I feel the shoulders tensing or the mind wandering into not the best territory- I try to do this as a grounding exercise. I don’t know if I even mentally classify it as meditation. Don’t get hung up on labels. Have a little fun with it. Try it before you sleep. After some time, you will find you may do this for more than a minute, some can even sit and do it for hours! I’m not there yet but there is always next time.
Kimberley Dickinson is a Nurse, Author of the bestselling novel The One Life Movement, Private Yoga Instructor, Life Coach, Grief, Loss and Mental Health supporter and End of Life Transition / Death Doula. For more information on her lifespan inclusive services and skills please connect with her on www.athomewellness.ca for in person, over the phone or online support and coaching sessions.
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