By Valerie Sheppard
3 Great Tips to Turn Your Meditation into a Rewarding Experience!
When I first started meditating several years ago, it was anything but fulfilling! I would make time in my calendar, sit down and “try” to meditate. I would get uncomfortable trying to hold the same still position, my mind would be full of thoughts and chatter, and I would feel frustrated and unfulfilled when it was over. Can you relate to that? Meditation certainly didn’t live up to its reputation of a centering, peaceful, rejuvenating experience. I was ready to throw in the towel!
Fortunately, I didn’t! I kept exploring meditation and my relationship with it through workshops, and even multiple-day silent retreats. Over time, my investment paid off. I found various tools that have worked for me, and my experience of meditation has been richly rewarding ever since. In fact, meditation has become my favorite means of staying centered and feeling that I am in the flow. It has become the foundation of my daily spiritual practice and something that greatly feeds my soul and state of happiness. Hallelujah!
I’d like to help you create a similar relationship with and fulfilling practice of meditation.
Let go of pre-conceived notions of what meditation is and isn’t. If, like me, you have these ideas about how you “do” meditation and what is “supposed” to happen when you meditate, you may be holding yourself back. Yes, there are “techniques” and some of them have specific postures and durations associated with them. But it’s not necessary to start with those forms of meditation. You can simply start by taking a break in a busy day, closing your eyes, and following your breath. For me, that was a great start. I let go of the things-to-do list, and for a few lovely moments, was quietly with me. In “True Meditation,” Zen Master Adyashanti advises that our attitude is key to our meditation experience. “We need to come to meditation in a way that is fresh and innocent.” In other words, let go of the list of ideas and expectations you have and start with a totally clean slate.
Give up “trying to meditate.” If you are trying to do anything while you’re meditating, you’re defeating the purpose of meditating. The point here is to let go of doing-ness altogether. The act of meditating is the only act. You’re not trying to control the body or stop thought. When you’re doing this manipulating and controlling in meditation, you’re actually resisting what is, and when you’re in resistance, you cannot feel peaceful and you cannot quiet the mind or body. It’s in allowing that you are able to do that. You simply sit and allow everything that happens to happen. Eventually, the body rests and the mind quiet. The more often you meditate, the more the body and mind get into a rhythm of releasing and quieting.
Commit to creating a practice. The experience of meditation and the benefits derived from meditating deepen and expand over time. David Fontana, author of “Learn to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment” says “meditation is a path without end.” We engage in the practice without expectation and keep engaging with open heart and mind. If every day feels daunting to you at first, choose a different frequency. If 20 or 30 minutes feels out of the question, sit for 10 or 15 minutes instead. You can also do briefer and longer sits if you feel called to do so. I meditate for 30-60 minutes daily and also integrate 2-5 minute mini sits whenever I feel the need to decompress.
The key is to get started and keep going! Once you integrate these 3 tips, any meditation technique you work with will become easier for you. In fact, I’ll bet that over time, despite current appearances to the contrary, you will soon discover the Master Meditator that is already within you!
If you are interested in pursuing this more deeply, come check out my next Be Still and Mindful Meditation Tele-workshop at www.StillandMindful.com I promise it will be fun, easy and rewarding!