Ever sit down to meditate and feel like you’ve failed? Me too. Luckily, then I get this nice little voice in my head that comes from a great big source. It says, “There is no try. Only do.” Ha. But in all seriousness, Yoda was onto something. Meditation isn’t about trying. It’s about being. And when we try, we’re not being. We don’t need to beat ourselves up for not getting a good meditation connection happening every time, and every minute that we meditate. That voice sounds a bit like Buddhist teacher Pema Chodronshe says a lot of things along the lines of “Just accept yourself completely.”
So what’s the practical point? Let’s combine these two gurus’ teachings into one: let go of trying to make yourself meditate, and accept your self-perceived limitations.
1. Let your mind wander a while. When we first sit down to meditate, we’re in transition phase, moving away from the busyness of whatever we were doing before we arrived in our seat, and into the stillness within. We can’t expect our minds to meet us there instantly. So letting them wander a while in the beginning, rather than resisting it right away, helps ease the transition. Was it Carl Jung who said, “What we resist persists”?
2. Start with your eyes open. This helps for many reasons. When we start with our eyes open, we help our mind ease through that transition phase. Focusing on one very small area can give your eyes something to occupy them and your mind. And stilling our gaze helps to still our mind.
3. Don’t sit still. My friend and mentor Swami Maheshananda Saraswati shares stories about sitting in stillness for hours at a timedeep in blissed-out meditation. But when he teaches us, he’s toootally fine with us moving around a bit. He gets that we live nutty busy maxed-out livesus modern-day yoga teachersand knows that resisting the movement and adjustments at this stage in our mental-physical evolution will just lead them to…persist.
4. Move your body. On that note, Jivamukti Yoga founders David Life and Sharon Gannon teach that we cannot make ourselves meditate. We can make ourselves concentrate. Dharana, or fixation of attention within the mind, is the sixth limb of yoga outlined by yogic philosophy powerhouse Patanjali. Yep, we could concentrate on something stillan image of our guru, or a candle flame, or a mandala, or our favourite pop idolor we can concentrate on our asanas. Simple sun salutations can become a beautiful moving meditation when done with mindfulness.
5. Make it with mantra. I love mantras. And they don’t have to be in Sanskrit. “Peace, peace, peace” works nearly as well as “Shanti, shanti, shanti.” I say nearly as well because the Sanskrit terms are designed to resonate on a physiological level within the multiple energy centers streaming within our body. I’m a big Sanskrit mantra lover, but sometimes I just like ones like “Let go.”
Hopefully some of these tips resonate with you, too.
About Lindsey Lewis I'm a Kundalini and Hatha yoga teacher, whole health lover, plus a bazilion other things, and lucky to be part of the team behind the scenes at My Yoga Online. Connect with me on my profile on My Yoga Online .