BY: TRISHA CURLING
Stop for a moment and just take a deep breath. This doesn’t sound like a very hard task, but it definitely can be sometimes. In moments when we’re under stress, or caught up in our “To Do Lists”, this is something we might be told to do. When we are caught up in our day to day, it can be very difficult to stay present. Staying present attracts more feelings of joy and contentment. I love what Eckhart Tolle says about finding an anchor in your internal body to quiet the mind. He gives examples like, find/feel the energy in your hands or your breath. This helps with being more present in the moment which helps to reduce stress. Staying present is essential when it comes to meditation.
Meditation can feel like this obscure, unattainable thing to some of us. The more I begin to scratch the surface of what it means to me, the more I understand that it is a personal practice. It is also a continuous journey. The “mind-muscle” must be worked on like any other muscle of the body in order to nourish and develop it.
Practicing yoga poses (asana) is a wonderful vehicle that has helped to assist in my journey towards meditation. “Keeping the brain in a receptive state is the art that yoga teaches…Meditation is related to the higher mental faculty for which one needs preparation. Learning asanas certainly help…If I put you in certain asana, your brain relaxes, and you become quiet.” (Light On Life, B.K.S. Iyengar pg. 80-81). Having to maintain so much focus in yoga poses, allows you to tune out the mind chatter that often happens within us. We are more present, therefore able to create more stillness in the body and mind.
Something I am still working on with my meditation practice is consistency. I’ve heard before that when we say we don’t have time to meditate, that this is the exact time we actually need to be doing it. This is true. There are so many benefits to developing a consistent meditation practice. Meditation helps with creating some space between our circumstances and ourselves. By quieting the mind, we can sometimes gain a better perspective about a particular situation. It has the ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and/or even depression. In our fast-paced society, it provides a moment for us to slow down and create some balance for the nervous system.
One way to start a regular practice in order to receive these benefits is to start with a small goal of maybe as low as 1-2 minutes per day. Try focusing on your breath, or as Tolle suggested, focusing on the energy you feel in different parts of your body. Carving out a quiet, pleasant space in your home can help you to associate that place with peace and calm. Meditation does not always need to take place in a specific spot, seated in a specific position, however, it might be a nice way to start if you are exploring this idea for the first time.
Living in the times we live in, there are also apps you can download in order to help you. One of my favorite apps is called “Calm” This app provides options for guided meditation (this can be very helpful to provide a focus). It allows you to time your meditations so that you can begin to extend your times as you go.
The most important thing here is just making the decision to get started. Your meditation journey is your own and that is part of the beauty that it provides.