“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
Meditation has become a regular part of my daily life. I had meditated quite a bit when I was in middle school, fell of the track for a long time and then it was on and off for many years. In summer of 2018, a stressful day shook me up and harshly reminded me of how much I have been gifted in abundance and how I’ve been sleepwalking without ever thinking about these gifts.
Over the past few months, I have been trying to sit down in meditation for 5 minutes right after waking up and about 20 minutes in the evening before bed and it’s been helpful in calming the mind. It has been helping me clear out fears and anxieties and clarify my thinking. What is my meditation like, it’s just silent sitting, observing my thoughts, my body, my surroundings, listening and being fully present. It’s hard and I have not been able to do all of these things consistently for longer than a few seconds at a time but I know it’s a muscle that needs to be built over time.
I have tried a few meditation apps including Calm and Headspace and the one app I have come to use regularly is tarabrach.com. In particular I use the smile meditation which runs for about 25 minutes. It relaxes my mind and body. When I’m really distracted, and desperately trying to come back to the present moment, I use the Be Here mediation which is roughly 20 minutes. Thanks to Tara Brach for her dedication, great gift of meditation to the world and for inspiring me to meditate.
“Distractions arise from habitual thought patterns when practice is intermittent.”— Patanjali
I’ve heard my friends say that meditation is hard, that they can’t sit quietly for so long and they get bored or distracted easily. It is true. Meditation can be hard and like many good things in life, meditation will get easier as we start practicing in small sessions, my recommendation is to do it immediately following an activity that we already do and in the beginning keep it tiny, like 1 minute. So tiny that you can’t say “I get bored, it’s long etc”. From there as you spend a few days or weeks doing 1 minute meditation, increase to 2 or 3 minutes. Meditation is a mind game and tricking the mind into believing that we are not “wasting” time sitting quietly requires increasing time spent very gradually and not trying to do it 20 or 40 minutes on day 1.
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.”–Tara Brach
Meditation can be a life long practice that can only get better and more beneficial as we grow older. As I make progress over the next few months, I’d like to wean away from guided meditation to going solo. Guided meditation is an amazing tool to keep us engaged and focused on the present moment, it’s like giving the monkey a task to repeat e.g. going up and down the totem pole. It’s necessary but it should not become a meditator’s crutch.