l love this article by Marielle Schneider about meditation: a humble guide. It gives a very honest and open account of beginning to meditate and shares some great tips to get you started. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
It’s my medit-anniversary! I’ve meditated for 500 days. During this time, I fell in love with it, with the process of it, with how it impacted my life.
I love to talk about meditation, and it takes a lot of effort not to be THAT person who brings it up as the cure to every evil, like the father character in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” does with Windex.
If I know you and I haven’t talked to you about it yet, it’s probably because I’m self-conscious that you would think of me as your crazy-eccentric-hippie aunt that wears huge jewelry and rides a bicycle named Josie.
With that said, and in case it can help someone out there, I humbly decided to share my beginnings as a meditator and aspiring Buddha.
Why did I start?
Basically, from a place of despair. Which I think might be necessary, not just to get started, but to stick to it. Without getting into too many details, I needed something to quiet my brain, gain control over my thoughts, allow me to function.
I decided that I’d give it a try, and since I didn’t see many other options, that it HAD to work.
I’m not by any means an expert in meditation, I never took a class or ever really talked to anyone who really knows a lot about it, but here are my tips.
The logistics :
- I meditate every day unless: I have a plane/train to catch, I’m running late, I wake up next to someone who would feel it’s too weird. Otherwise, no excuse.
- I do it first thing in the morning, or else it doesn’t happen. I open half an eye, drink a sip of water, get started.
- I set my phone on airplane mode at night and only take it off after meditating, which I noticed makes it much easier to focus.
- Posture: I usually sit down on a big cushion on the floor, crossed legs, straight back, eyes closed, hands on thighs.
- I almost never feel like meditating when I wake up, and my mind quickly starts finding excuses not to do it. I “mind-over-matter” it.
I almost never feel like meditating when I wake up, and my mind quickly starts finding excuses not to do it. I “mind-over-matter” it.
And the meditation itself?
When I first started, I asked around to figure out HOW I should do it and this is what came up: app-guided meditation and self-guided meditation. I didn’t know which one to chose so I decided to do both: every day, 15-ish minutes with the app, 14 minutes by myself.
- Part 1: App-guided meditation. I use the French app “Petit Bambou” and just do whatever the lady/dude from the app tells me to.
- Part 2: Self-guided meditation. I set a timer for 14 minutes. Close my eyes. Start with a few deep breaths. Visualize my surroundings. Listen to the noises around me. Do a body scan from toes to head. Count my breaths from 1 to 16 and then start again from 1. Sometimes I redo an exercise I learned/liked from the app. For a few seconds, let my mind do whatever it wants. Come back to the present moment by focusing on my body. Open my eyes, put my hands in prayers and silently express gratitude (ewww hippie). Get up.
What is there to know?
- I lose focus while I do it, like a looooot. Some days it feels like I just sat down do think about stuff, instead of doing the exact opposite. I try not to think of my meditations in terms of successes or failures.
- It takes a while before it starts working. For me, it took about 6 weeks before my mind started to clear up. It was a looong 6 weeks.
- It’s all about consistency, like so, so, so many things in life.
- There’s isn’t really a way to do it wrong, but there are techniques to apply to do it better.
What has changed?
- I get to choose my thoughts: I find it much easier to let go of obsessive thoughts. They still come, they’re still bothering and uncomfortable, but then they go away faster.
- It didn’t solve my life problems. I once read somewhere that meditation makes you 10% happier, and I think that’s about accurate. It doesn’t solve them but rather allows me to change my perspective on them.
- Since I started meditating, I have the most vivid dreams and nightmares. ALL. THE. TIME. And remember every detail. It’s really weird. Does anyone know why?
- It follows me through the day. It’s less about how I feel while I sit in meditation (usually restless and feeling like I’m doing it wrong!) than how it changes how I feel during the rest of the day.
- I feel like I have more brain space to be present for those around me. Anxiety makes you so self-absorbed, your mind is completely dominated by the obsessive thought of making the restlessness go away. Meditation changed that and I believe it made me a better sister, daughter, friend.
- My mind has reconnected to my body in very tangible ways. I feel my breathing, my head, my heartbeats, and get to acknowledge them and act on them if I need to. It’s very empowering.