Meditation is getting a lot of terrific press these days. Seems like nearly every week there's a new study, opinion or eye-opening story detailing the benefits of regular meditation practice. Experts are attributing a laundry list of health benefits to the simple practice of sitting down and giving the mind a rest (Ayurveda supports this too!).
But for lots of people (dare I say most), the road to a regular meditation practice is paved with good intentions...and a lot of potholes. So why is meditation so challenging?
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations“ – Michael J. Fox
Our non-stop way of living has trained us to focus on results...fast results. When that happens, time starts to feel more like a commodity than a gift and we begin to expect that anything worth our time had better produce tangible results, like yesterday.
One of the challenges of meditation is that we've created an idea of what it should look and feel like. And when experience doesn't match expectations, we move on (consciously or subconsciously) and often give up on pursuing the benefits of a restful mind. But guess what? You've got options!
Feel The Goodness Right Now
If you find meditation a challenge (and even if you don't), consider dabbling in mindfulness. The practice is effortless, powerful and can be done anywhere at any time.
Just do this...
1. Cool Your Jets
Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, no matter what time or day or night, STOP for a moment. Stop talking, planning, judging, expecting, and just take notice of everything around you. Let the goodness of the present moment fill up the space.
2. Give Yourself The Pleasure Of A Five-Senses Moment
Give yourself over entirely to your senses. Notice the smells and sites. What can you hear and taste? What do your clothes, the air, the furniture or ground feel like, above below and around you? What else is going on in this moment that you can experience with the senses alone? Take it all in. According to Ayurveda, the senses are the bridge between the physical body and the infinite soul. Allow yourself to experience that connection.
3. Step Back From Your Thoughts For A Sec
The thought of not thinking confounds us. We are thinking machines. And letting go of that is a process. Start by just noticing what thoughts come up in your head. Forget about judging, categorizing or even acting on them. Imagine them like clouds or balloons floating into and then out of your view. That's all? Yeah that's all.
4. Breathe In...Breathe Out...
Don't hold your breath, let it go. Feel it moving in and out of the body. The breath anchors you to this moment, it's your connection to the reality of being alive. Cause you know what they say... we breathe in, we breathe out and everything else is just a story.
5. Take It As It Comes
See how long you can hang out present in the moment before your “auto-pilot” kicks in and transports you back to worrying about the future or thinking about the past. And don't be concerned about how long it lasts. The journey is the reward. Whatever you become aware of will transform you, if you let it.
Look Ma, No Cushion!
And part of the beauty of mindfulness is... you don't need a meditation cushion or a special room or space, you don't even need to sit down! And although you won't technically be meditating, it's highly likely that you'll experience something profound (and that you'll do it often!).
Mindfulness and meditation go hand in hand, each enhances the other (I often think of them as being gateway “drugs” for one another). Jumping on the mindfulness bandwagon has many of the same benefits as meditation and may one day even motivate you to take another pass at the meditation cushion...or not. Either way you'll feel empowered, connected and calm.
So give it a shot. Right now in fact – there's no other time than the present. And when you're done...try it again, and again. Remember there are no time frames or rules, no requirements or right or wrong way to do it. There's just you, shutting up, tuning in, and feeling the effects.
What challenges have YOU faced starting a regular meditation practice? What's your experience of mindfulness? Share and inspire!