I love closing my eyes and turning inward in daily meditation. It’s one of the gifts in my daily life. But my meditation practice didn’t exactly start out this way. My mind didn’t know how to stop. When I sat down and shut my eyes, my body suddenly became keenly aware of every itch and twitch. I’d peek to see if the clock hands had moved a fraction of an inch. It was torture.
Today, I absolutely adore my meditation practice. I rarely begin my day without it. In fact, I have the opposite problem. I struggle to return to Earth from the deliciousness I lose myself in.
Almost everyone I know wants to meditate. But the biggest problem is all the questions and doubts they have about meditation. I’m hoping to clarify some of them here.
#1. Meditation is not some woo-woo Eastern practice. Yes, yoga, bhajan, chanting, and meditation as we know it originated in Eastern spirituality. But every faith tradition encourages some version of stillness. Centering prayer is well known in the Christian tradition. The Sufis lose themselves in the ecstasy of the divine. So if you worry about having to learn a practice that comes from the distant shores, don’t. Meditation is not attached to any particular religious system. It is a practice that teaches you how to calm the mind, a lesson every religion offers in one form or another.
#2. Meditation can’t be done wrong. Just like driving a car is all about practice, meditation is also about showing up. Again and again. Just as you still need to check all your mirrors before you pull out of your driveway twenty years after you first learned to drive, meditation is also about showing up on the cushion, day after day. There is no perfect driving day, right? Every drive is different because the conditions are different. Meditation is the same. It is simply what it is in a given session. You show up and do the best you can.
#3. Meditation is not about being a monk on the mountaintop. Life on a mountaintop makes meditation simple for monks. It’s hard to have a practice going when you’re raising kids, dealing with grumpy supervisors, driving in crazy traffic, and living the messiness of everyday life. In fact, meditation must be practiced when we’re in the middle of an argument, stuck in traffic, dealing with family drama, or faced with a difficult medical diagnosis.
#4. Meditation is about Presence. It is about being aware of what is in this moment. Feeling the temperature in the room. Is it hot, warm, cool? Smelling the smells in the room. Coffee, perfume, incense? Listening to the sounds in your space. Barking dog, car horn, someone coughing? Feeling the textures on your skin (fabric, a gentle breeze) and where you’re sitting (a hard-backed chair, or a sagging couch). When you do this, you’re coming into the Now. There is no past or future. You’re where you are in this moment. This really means you could be peeling potatoes and meditating. Washing dishes and meditating. Folding laundry and meditating. When you’re simply engaged in what you are attending to fully and completely, you’re meditating.
#5. Meditation is about honoring our breath. Our breath is a wonderful anchor. Our loved ones who died no longer have the gift of breath. But we do. And we walk around taking this gift for granted. When we sit in meditation and focus on our breath, it becomes a way to honor our breath. So when we focus on the in and out breath, we bring our focus and gratitude to the present moment.
#6. Meditation connects us to Spirit. Our breath is the bridge between Heaven and Earth. When we stop breathing we return to our eternal home. We are all connected to the Divine. Meditation is way to recognize this connection. The grace of Spirit helps us breathe. So as we breathe we are reminded of our human-spiritual selves.
If you’d like to watch my Meditation 101 video, CLICK HERE.