Meditation and I were previously in what felt like an ongoing battle for years. I would try to close my eyes, push away my wandering thoughts, and count my breathes. But my mind would never quiet, constantly running through my check list over and over.
I had read of all the benefits, knowing that I was headed in the wrong direction and this would steer me the right direction. But something prevented me from practicing each day, and bettering my progress. I was stressed, and looming toward my breaking point when it happened. I had a full blown panic attack in front of a friend and several anonymous people in an elevator.
I started my meditation practice that night. It’s just over a year, my anniversary in November.
My anxiety is at a minimum and my self-awareness greater than it ever has been. I give myself time to sit through my experiences now, to grieve, to learn and to move past it. I don’t beat myself up, or try to bury my feeling.
Now, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I only have the answers to my own questions. And I believe that you have your own answers as well. It just takes time, and constancy to quiet the mind and find those answers for yourself. So stop beating yourself up, and just try. No one will even notice your doing it.
Here are four tips to create a regular meditation practice:
This isn’t one of those things you want to dive head first into, and try sitting for 30 minutes your first time. It’ll turn into more of a headache when you can’t manage to stay focused. I recommend starting with just 8 minutes. Longer than it takes to brush your teeth, but shorter than it would be to start a load of clothes.
If the idea of sitting still for 8 minutes is too daunting. Try walking around your neighborhood. The idea of meditation is to focus on something repetitive, such as your breathe or a mantra. You don’t have to close your eyes, and sit on a pillow with hour hands on your knees to get the job done. You can choose to keep your eyes open, focus on the sidewalk in front of you and listen to your breathe. When a thought comes in, acknowledge it, and quickly bring your focus back to your breathe. Not simple in the beginning, but it will get easier.
Just like any other habit. Constancy is key. So pick a time of day, and stick to it. I mediate right after my workout each morning. Even if it’s following a stretching routine, it’s always a constant closer. This way my mind is wide awake, and ready for the task at hand.
I think I’ve mentioned it, but in case you forgot. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes time to feel successful after a practice. I can almost guarantee it will take at a minimum a week to notice even the smallest change. It isn’t a one time fix but a lifestyle change. It’s like turning pages in a novel, the deeper you get, the better the story will be.
With a regular practice, I hope you experience the same benefits I’ve noticed in my own life. Space isn’t always comfortable. We spend so much time and energy trying to hide from the quiet. We buffer. We mindlessly scroll through our phones; we immerse ourselves in the latest tending topic; we numb our pain with food, drink, drugs and sex.
But as difficult as the silence can be, there is a peace to be found there. You can quiet those negative thoughts, clear that anxiety and bring yourself to the present. Because there’s the present and nothing else. Always keep in mind that meditation is not about control, but practice. That our bodies and souls speak to us in these instances. And with time you will overcome your battle with meditation and you find that quiet, where only you, and your voice can be heard. And it’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.