I tried, okay.
Now- before I even get started: I’m soooo not going all “zen master of the world”, more-spiritual-than-thou on you here. I am still very, very new at this whole meditation thing, and I’m still so far from being “good” at it.
I know it’s a flaw of mine, but usually, if I’m not good at something – I quit. I don’t like the struggle, or the vulnerability of being a ~*newb*~. I like knowing exactly what I’m doing, and knowing I’m doing it well. So I’m as surprised as anyone that I’ve kept up this attempt at mediation, because, lord – I’m strugglin’.
But I’m enjoying it! Despite my impatience and distractibility and hamster-on-a-treadmill racing mind, I’m enjoying it. Forcing myself to just sit still and be quiet for five minutes in the morning actually feels more productive than I would have thought. I feel like by taking those few minutes to find stillness – physically, if not always mentally – I start my day on a calmer, more positive note. By paying attention to my breath, and (trying to) push aside the anxieties and trivial matters of the rest of the day for those few minutes, I feel more ready to face whatever comes at me. Setting intentions allows me to “plan” the day ahead, and decide that, in every aspect that I have any control whatsoever over, it’s going to be a good day.
I’ve found a few tricks that have helped me stay present and committed to this little experimentation with meditation, but if you’ve got any others, please – help a girl out.
1. Make it a routine. It’s easier to stick with something if you plan it into the flow of your day. I’m very much a creature of habit, so this works well for me. Wake up, get some breakfast, brush/floss/wash all the things, swipe on a lil makeup and run a brush through my hair, jump on my mat for a few sun salutations, and then, before I get dressed and actually ready for work – set myself up for five minutes of meditation. It helps that I’m also 100% more productive and alive in the mornings, but fitting it into my morning norm has definitely helped me stick with it.
2. Make it easy. My (okay, one of my many) yoga mats is permanently rolled out in its own lil “yoga corner” of my room. It’s a really teensy thing that makes it a teensy bit easier to get started. No excuses of “oh, where’s my mat?” or “ugh, I don’t want to clear a spot on the floor and roll out the mat and have to sit down and do all the stuff this morning”. It’s right there. Go. Sit. Easy.
3. Don’t watch the pot. A watched pot never boils, and a watched clock never …ticks? I don’t know. It’s suuuuper tempting to open your eyes and interrupt your practice to check the time. How much longer??? I promise you – it doesn’t help. Resist. What I do, is start the countdown timer on my iPhone to five, press start, and close my eyes. And keep ’em closed, right until the lil chime-y music starts playing, letting me know I’m done. If you’re focused on the timer, not only is the five minutes going to seem like an eternity, but I’m pretttttty sure you’re not going to find any inner peace or calm.
4. Get comfy. But not comfy enough that you’re gonna be tempted to nod off. You want that golden spot in between naptime and constant fidgeting. I find sitting in lotus pose with my legs crossed (half-lotus is good too, if you’re a little less bendy) is good because it makes me sit up straight, while still being pretty comfortable to stay in for a few minutes.
5. Anticipate interruptions. Lots of things are totally beyond your control, but do what you can to minimize the likelihood of something interrupting your practice. Silence the ringer on your phone. Make sure the cat’s bowl isn’t empty. Anything that’s likely to make a noise or do a thing and scare the poop of you mid-meditation, do what you can to prevent it.
6. Get rid of distractions. Likewise, any lil things that are going to nag at your mind, take care of them beforehand. Don’t force yourself to sit in discomfort for the whole five minutes, jiggling one knee while trying not to think about “oh my god I’m gonna pee my pants”. Go pee, first!! If you have a hitch in your fingernail that you know you’ll want to pick at, find the nail-clippers and take care of it before you begin. If there’s a piece of dirt on the floor that is going to silently scream at you to pick it up, just do it. You know yourself what kind of things get under your skin and refuse to be ignored. If it’s something that can be fixed within a minute or two, for the love of god. Save your sanity, and just fix it before you settle in to try to meditate.
7. Go easy on yourself. Don’t expect greatness, and don’t get frustrated. I find the thing I’m most likely to get annoyed at myself for is that my brain just won’t shut up. I’m trying to be okay with that, and just let it yammer on in the background. It’s not so much about silencing that background noise; more like acknowledging it and moving on. Like “okay yep, carry on, I’ll deal with you thoughts later, byeeee”, and being okay with that.
For alliteration purposes, I really wanted ten tips, but so far, that’s all I’ve got. If you’re venturing into the mediation game, hopefully these are helpful. If I have actually inspired you to try it out, a) I so hope you find it as rewarding as I am so far, b) if you hate it, that’s totally cool too. You do you, boo. And c) let me know any tricks you find work for you!