Meditation is often celebrated as a powerful way to find peace, reconnect with your body, and promote healing. Personally, I've never been particularly skilled at meditation. Sitting quietly in a dimly lit room while trying to keep my body still often turned into an opportunity to perfect my to-do list, make elaborate plans for the future, or dwell on things I couldn't control. For many of us, meditation, or more specifically, stillness, can be a real challenge because it forces us to confront what's going on inside, and that's no easy task when life throws us its fair share of difficulties. So, while I understood the significance of meditation and genuinely wanted to reconnect with my body, I had to find my own path.
One experience significantly shaped my perspective on meditation. I decided to attend a local dance class, thinking it would be a straightforward, fun activity. Little did I know, it would transform the way I thought about meditation.
Upon arriving at the class, I met Guada, the co-owner of the dance studio and our instructor. Guada, a former ballerina from the National Ballet of the Philippines, introduced us to a unique approach. Each dance was divided into four parts: marking choreography, learning and mastering the choreography, running through a dry performance, and finally, giving an emotive performance. This class moved swiftly, and for someone like me, who hadn't danced since childhood, learning choreography was quite the challenge. But I was determined, even though I stumbled through the first run. The second class was equally demanding, and I was so committed to improvement that I even went home to review our class on YouTube.
Returning for the third and fourth classes, I found it both difficult and exhilarating. What made this experience so profound for me was the surprising quietness of my mind amidst the chaos of dance. For the first time in a long while, the incessant chatter in my head fell silent. It occurred to me that my body was in motion, and my mind had to guide it through specific movements. I realized that, for me, meditation didn't mean being completely still. It meant engaging both my mind and body.
In my journey, I've found meditation through movement, like walking, skipping sidewalk cracks, and even cleaning. I've found it by learning choreography and immersing my mind in something other than the never-ending stream of thoughts about my life. Sometimes, I find it through practicing yoga, or simply by focusing on my breath. Being fully present in the room and observing the objects around me can also bring me back to center.
If, like me, you struggle with traditional stillness in meditation, please understand that meditation can take on a form that serves your needs. It's meant to be a tool for your well-being. Below, you'll discover some suggestions that might help you discover your own path to meditation, even if you've struggled with it in the past.
1. Start Small and Be Patient:
It's okay if you can't sit still for 30 minutes or empty your mind of thoughts instantly. Meditation is a skill that takes time to develop. Begin with just a few minutes each day. Find a comfortable, quiet space and settle into it. Focus on your breath or a simple mantra. As your mind inevitably wanders, gently bring your attention back to your chosen point of focus. Over time, you'll find that your ability to stay present and calm will improve.
2. Experiment with Different Techniques:
Meditation is not one-size-fits-all. There are numerous techniques to explore, from mindfulness and guided meditation to loving-kindness and body scan practices. Try different approaches to find what resonates with you. Some may prefer moving meditations like yoga or tai chi, while others may find solace in nature through forest walks and gardening. Variety can help you discover the meditation style that suits you best.
3. Incorporate Meditation into Daily Activities:
Meditation doesn't always have to involve sitting cross-legged on the floor. You can practice mindfulness during routine activities. Pay close attention to the sensations of washing dishes, walking, or even sipping your morning tea. By being fully present in these moments, you're already embracing the essence of meditation.
4. Use Technology as an Aid:
If you find it challenging to meditate on your own, consider using meditation apps, guided sessions available online. These resources often provide structured guidance and a sense of community, making meditation more approachable. Moreover, they offer a variety of lengths and themes, allowing you to find what suits your needs on any given day.
5. Embrace Self-Compassion:
Remember, meditation is not about achieving perfection or suppressing thoughts. It's about cultivating self-awareness, compassion, and acceptance. When your mind wanders or you feel restless during meditation, respond with kindness, not frustration. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend, acknowledging that everyone faces challenges in their meditation journey.
Incorporating meditation into your life is a process, and the journey is just as valuable as the destination. Be empathetic with yourself and recognize that there will be days when meditation flows effortlessly and others when it feels like a struggle. The important thing is to persist, gently guiding your practice with love and patience.
Meditation is not about forcing yourself into a rigid mold but finding a path that aligns with your unique self. As you explore options to make meditation more accessible, you'll discover that it can become a meaningful and enriching part of your daily routine. Embrace the journey, and soon you'll find the peace and clarity that meditation can offer, even if you once thought it was beyond your reach.