When I was first introduced to mindfulness, I was in teacher training three years ago. Part of teacher training was to sit mindfully for 10 minutes every day and meditate. Then write about my experience. So, I bought the customary zafu, sat down on the first day to meditate, journal close by, set a timer, and started to meditate.
Yoga Training Introduction to Meditation Here’s the thing, I went into yoga teacher training because my practice was strong, but my knowledge level of the subject matter was NOT. I could get into most poses with a little bit of work, including very advanced ones, and practiced at a minimum of three times a week on my yoga mat. At the time, I considered my teachers to be Kino MacGregor, Dave Farmar, and even the controversial Bikram and Patthabi Jois (Only because of the ground work they covered in yoga. I was a ‘student’ of theirs long before I knew of the controversies surrounding them). These were the people I looked to in order to train and learn and grow. When I entered YTT, I was excited about geeking out about my yoga practice. But I had no idea what life-changing, forever altering situation I was stepping into. As mentioned above, the first assignment was to meditate, daily, for the entire 200 hours yoga training, which went from September to June. No problem, I thought. I am an excellent student and I actually like homework. (I mentioned geek, right?). We were then asked to write about our experience with meditation each day.
My First Day of Meditation Went A Little Like This I sat down in my studio room, where I create, read, and genuinely love to be. I took the opportunity to buy a zafu cushion to support my practice. I had arrived. Or so I thought. Sitting down to meditate, phone timer poised and ready to go, journal and pen close by to recount my experience on paper, I suddenly felt panicked. What the hell do I do for 10 minutes? Breathe?! That is it?!?! I sat tall, positioned my sitz bones on the cushion, and pressed start on my timer. Eyes closed, I tried to breathe. In college, I had experienced a few panic attacks, and yes, if you’re wondering, they are a lot like a heart attack. Your heart races, things go black all around you, and you do feel as though death is imminent. This feeling started to creep into me as I sat there, attempting to meditate, attempting to be still and just breathe. Just breathe. Even writing those words sounds so very simple; but it wasn’t. It still isn’t. I struggle daily with the work to fully breathe into my belly, expand my ribs, and take breath all the way up to my collarbones, in helpful three-part breath style. With all this going on, something else happened. I realized rather quickly that I was sitting and doing what appeared to be nothing. All the while, the kitchen was going to blow up. Yes, that is the thought that coursed through my mind. If I am not in the kitchen DOING something, then it is GOING TO EFFIN BLOW UP! If I had thought the panic was bad before, it was getting really bad now. I held my place, though, and made it through all 10 minutes. Barely.
Why Meditation is So Difficult It would seem that sitting still and just breathing in and out, noticing your breath is easy. It’s not like you’re performing a double backflip into a swimming pool, right? But it is a lot harder than you think, and you might already know this from experience. Or maybe you’re curious about meditation. There are several reasons why meditation was so difficult for me to start, and maybe it is for you as well. We know meditation is valuable, so let’s explore why it is so difficult, so that we can begin to utilize this tool.
Our Minds are a “Chattering Monkey” And Never Stop Running – The monkey mind, which we are referring to here, is a Buddhist term that addresses our restless, constant thinking, which is often on repeat. We go through the same cycle of thoughts daily, be it good or bad, conscious or subconscious. The irony, too, is that at the times these we get quieter, these thoughts often get busier. This monkey mind often is an inner critic, thus presenting these thoughts that never cease as negative. The thing is, meditation can actually teach you to notice these thoughts, and retrain them! What if you could take the negative thoughts you cycle through daily, notice them, and actually change them into positive thoughts towards yourself and your life?
Meditation Is a Pathway to New Age, Buddhist, or Hindu Religions – This might be a fear that you have and are afraid to express. Meditation can be thought of as prayer, as the Bible states, “Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10, beimg still and reflecting, or simply BEing. Every religion has a take on meditation and prayer, presented as an opportunity to calm the soul, and realize that a creator, self, or some higher power is present in our lives. Whatever religious lens you choose to look at the world through, or if you even choose no religion, we believe that stopping, breathing, and resting is vital in our culture. The busier we get, the less we attach to the core of nature, who we are, and our views of god, God, or goddesses. Stopping and breathing is not a religion. It is a practice to introduce you to a calmer, more peaceful mindset. Who wouldn’t want that around?
The Fear of Failure in Meditation – This, sadly often stops us from even starting on a journey that has scientifically proven evidence that meditation has a myriad of positive benefits, including reducing insomnia, assisting with anxiety, depression, and even is a practice that can help with quitting smoking. Yet, as with so many things, fearing that you won’t be ‘good’ at meditation could lead you to stop before you even start. The funny thing about this is that there is no right way to do meditation. Let that wash over you. There is no right way to meditate. Stories have been shared where people meditate after working out in a busy gym and find it the most relaxing time. Maybe we can utilize the stress of commuting, or traffic, as an opportunity to stop, become aware, and breathe.
Start Your Meditation Practice Here It doesn’t take much. There are apps a plenty that help support your practice of meditation. You can do it hiking, driving (just don’t close your eyes, please), or in the shower. We have friends who say riding their bikes in the woods is their meditation, because everything else tunes out and they are present only on the navigation of their handlebars between the tree branches. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? In order to start your meditation journey, we have a small 2-minute meditation here for you. It is guided, to help you kickstart your journey into a more peaceful, rested life.
Mobile Wellness in Locations Across East Tennessee Your time is important and the busy things that surround you often cause more stress. That is why we come to you and offer you classes and programs created by our in-house curriculum and training experts. We pride ourselves on bringing movement, mindfulness, and breath to you. Why not take time for yourself and check out our community classes or reach out to schedule a private class for you, your workplace, or school! Namaste.