I love meditation. It’s something I found by accident, I started off with the app Headspace and evolved from there. When I first started, it was a challenge. I wasn’t meditating consistently and I wasn’t seeing any results. When I chose to start, I did it because it was something my doctors suggested. Being the dutiful patient I am, I ran with it. Well, at first I limped with it. Slowly, I got up to walking speed and now I’m finally running with it. I think there’s a stigma around meditation. We all have this grand idea that within one session we will have found enlightenment. It only takes the right position, sitting with our legs crossed and our middle finger and thumb touching. This is not even close to the experience I had. I started meditating lying down, it was all about finding relaxation. Most of the time, I fall asleep when I try meditating lying down. I guess that means I’m somewhat relaxed. I’m writing this article because I want you to find meditation on your own terms. I don’t want to shove down your throat the reasons you should meditate. I want to share my experience with meditation and in turn help you in your meditation journey. This way you can skip some of the road blocks I faced.
- Meditation Doesn’t Equal Enlightenment
I’m starting off with this common misconception because when I started, I had all the wrong ideas. I thought I’d be ushered into a private community of like minded individuals all serene. Like a secret garden party made for people who decided to improve their life. Nope, not even close. When you start meditating, you might feel really alone. It may isolate you when you start to really get going. There’s this weird, almost negative attitude some people have against you. My guess is that they assume you’re automatically telling them that you’re better than them. In my experience, that’s not it at all. There’s something that you find in meditation that you want to share. It’s why I talk about it so often. It does help you find part of your soul. You can use it in so many different ways for so many different things. (Here I go again…) My point is, don’t always expect a warm welcome when you tell people you’re trying to start meditating. Often, meditation makes us confront our flaws and fears. The voice in your head gets quite loud when you cut out everything else going on. I’m sure finding enlightenment is possible, but I’m far from it. Don’t let this discourage you. You will see so many benefits from meditation but it won’t be right away.
- You’re Going to Feel Like You’re Doing it Wrong
I thought this would go away, and to some extent it does. Most of the time, especially when you’re starting out, you’re going to think you’re doing it wrong. It feels awkward. Your brain doesn’t stop thinking. It wants to keep going and going and going. That’s okay and very normal. The point is not to stop your thoughts, but to not engage with them. That way, you’re training your body to slow down and focus on one thing. Rather than what to make for dinner, that paper you were supposed to submit, the work meeting you missed, taking your dog to the groomer, that cringey date you just had or a million other things. Be patient with yourself, the more you do it, the less awkward it will be.
- There are Different Types of Meditation
No one ever told me about this but there are different types of meditation. I thought it was all supposed to be about focusing on your breath. You can do manifestation practices, meditations towards your goals or panic attack meditations. Affirmations, Radical Acceptance, Overcoming Perfectionism, Deep sleep, there are millions of different types of meditations. I like to tailor my meditations to what I need in the moment. Everyday is different. I try to focus on gratitude, affirmations, and radical acceptance. If you don’t like meditation, I’d try one that is dedicated to something you’re mixing or want to strengthen.
- Not All Apps are Created Equal
I started off with the app headspace. Quickly, I outgrew that and moved on. I tried the app Calm but it didn’t work for me. Finally, I found Insight Timer. I swear by this app, they should pay me because I talk about it so much. They have so many different types of meditations from beginner to advanced. Now, Insight Timer might not be the app for you. Luckily, there are tons of meditation apps out there. I just happened to stop looking after I found the one I like. Don’t give up on meditation if you don’t like the content from one app. There are so many more to try.
- Forgive Yourself
There will be lots of time where you trail off and completely forget what you are doing. You may fall asleep, like me. You may give up on a meditation halfway through because you’re too anxious or it’s too much. That’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect with it. There are always going to be times when you need a break. It can get to be too much. Take a step back, try again later. The world won’t end if you don’t meditate for a day. (I’m talking to the perfectionists)
- Keep Trying
Don’t give up on meditation. It may feel like dragging your feet through the mud. I promise, if you give it time, you’ll find your stride. You may go through five apps and spend countless hours bored and sick of it but it’s worth it. Meditation won’t fix all your problems. It will help you to step back and identify what may be causing the problem. It’s time for growth and self reflection. It makes you more aware of the birds chirping or the river flowing. It will brighten up your world and allow you to see beauty everywhere, at least it did for me.
I would say that meditation isn’t for everyone, but I think it is. Meditation comes in so many different forms. I find running to be a form of meditation. My mind is completely clear and I’m focused on getting to one thing. You will stumble upon so many pitfalls in your meditation journey. It will be frustrating and sometimes scary but it will also be forgiving and patient. It can help you heal in so many different ways. Again, I don’t want to shove it down your throat but if you’re struggling with it please don’t give up. If you’re thinking about trying it, do it. Just focus on doing it one time. Set small goals and take it one step at a time. You got this!