quick thoughts on meditation

Did you know that in a typical yoga class (in the West, that is) savasana averages only about 5 minutes?  It's arguably the most important part of the class, yet it's kept short because silent meditation is so challenging and it makes people uncomfortable. Originally, these yoga poses, or asanas, that we practice today were only developed as a way for the ancient yogis to be able to remain seated in silent meditation for longer periods of time. Meditating is easier when our minds and bodies are focusing on something more tangible like movement or breathing. But if you think that you're just one of those people that can never "stop" thinking, welcome to the club because no one can fully STOP thinking. And that's not the goal of mindfulness meditation anyway.

During mindfulness meditation, the goal is to stay completely present. If you're not sure what that entails, it only means that you are trying to focus on exactly where you are, what you're doing and how you feel right now. So in yoga class, resting in savasana, it is time set aside to rest and you are to remain there with your body and mind...resting. Sometimes, a great mantra to silently repeat is just, "I am here." When (not if, but when) you notice yourself thinking about anything else outside of exactly what you're doing, you simply guide your attention back gently, knowing that this is the time you have set aside to practice self-control. As you begin to strengthen your concentration during meditation, taming your mind, you will find that your focus and concentration will improve outside of your practice as well and that's a great feeling.

Another common distraction for new beginners during meditation is "physical discomfort." I put that in quotations because a lot of times, the fidgeting and moving about that goes along with our meditation time is not actually real physical discomfort, but just nervous habits. Next time you settle into a meditation position, take time to find what feels just right for your body. Don't feel like you need to do what anyone or everyone else in class is doing, but feel free to lie on your side, your stomach, bend your knees or sit up to take advantage of the time as best you can. And if or when you feel like you need to itch your nose or crack your neck, see if you can sit with that discomfort for a few moments, just acknowledging the feeling, then letting it go and trying to stay focused before indulging in any squirming. 

If this all seems demanding or difficult, it is. But the more difficult meditation is, the more you truly need it. Work to control your mind rather than allowing it to control you, so that wherever you are, you can be all there. Namaste!