Hello, my lovely dovely friends,
Today we’re going to discuss a topic that keeps finding its way back into my life- mindfulness meditation. Let me back the heck up and tell you about why this is an issue for me. When I started yoga, it meant about 90% asanas, 7% breathing, 3% meditation and zero percent of everything else to me. (Everything else being the many branches of yoga!) This is by no fault of my teachers or my own. As my practice developed, the benefits of breath work, meditation, and the yamas and niyamas became more apparent to me. For example, I developed exercise-induced asthma when I was fourteen. So, pranayama and breathing is equal parts challenging and important (it’s challenging because it’s so important) and that focus was beneficial just as the postures are.
Another example is ahimsa– non-violence. This branch of yoga influenced everything from my decision to go vegetarian to my patience in listening to people, and it’s one of the fundamental principles for yoga. Again, was totally unimportant to me seven years ago but means more now in my current circumstances. Evolution, baby.
So that brings me to mindfulness meditation. Presence. “Being in your body,” as my YTT instructor calls it. In my early teens, I loved yoga but hated meditation. I hated sitting up straight, with my bony bottom on the hard floor, having nothing to focus on besides inhaling and exhaling. I couldn’t see the benefit and how that could help you sleep better, see more clearly, and welcome life’s abundance.
I will let you in on my secret: meditation is NOT necessarily sitting in lotus position, ohm-ing and having no thoughts. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE! Can I tell you just how many times (in the past week!) I have left my car windows open, gotten sidetracked at work, or literally thrown a fit about my AC not working in my car when the AC button wasn’t even turned on…talk about not being present in the moment! And in all those moments I’ve caught myself zoning out and tumbling into what I’m about to do next, I realized that meditation is FAR more useful off the mat.
However- in order for this practice to become natural- just like good posture, deep breathing, hydration, etc- you have to practice it pretty consciously first. One of my assignments for YTT was to sit and meditate every day for a week and write about it. I saved that assignment for last and did all my book work about the muscles first because I was dreading it. Really! Listen to this! In eight months, I’ll be a freaking yoga teacher, and I couldn’t even be bothered to spend five minutes meditating each day. So I had to stop and ask myself, why am I so bugged by this? Am I this uncomfortable with shutting myself off from being overactive all the time that I can’t spare five measly minutes?
What I’m saying is, meditation isn’t always sitting still. But in order to have that active meditation, that presence in your life, you have to start by gearing up and sitting with yourself on the mat. Even if it’s just for five minutes. Or one. To teach your mind and body how it feels to be safe in the present. And while you’re in that moment, you might be uncomfortable, restless, or maybe even calm. Find something that works for you- whether it’s counting down your breaths from a random number like eighty-eight, doing a sensory awareness drill, or witnessing your thoughts without judgment…I promise if you give it enough tries, you will find something that speaks to you and it will be well worth it.
More on this to come! I promise!
Thank you for reading and I hope this makes you feel better…because meditation can be pretty damn uncomfortable sometimes (and also pretty amazing). And that’s part of it. 😉