How to Meditate (if you’re totally not the type).
I might have once told you that I’m anti-meditation. I don’t generally enjoy being told what to do, or jumping on bandwagons and when people talk about meditation and mindfulness it seems to have the trappings of both. That, and I really don’t picture myself in lotus position, eyes closed, gently chanting ‘om’ (call me closed minded, I just really do not).
But I’ve discovered that it’s not meditation I dislike- it’s the glossy narrow version of it that’s become popular and mainstream and somewhat cliche.
What no one ever told me about meditation is that it can take many (more personal) forms.
For me, gardening is meditation. When I’m working in the garden I am nowhere else but there. I’m not thinking about the client report, getting a present for that birthday party my daughter is going to, or solving any of the numerous problems my mind is generally in full blown obsession mode over. I am calm, and content and deeply connected (AND I get great food at the end!).
Repeat. Years ago I actually tried a meditation (hey, can’t knock it if you don’t try it) in which you visualize a flame. The point is to try and keep the flame from flickering as your thoughts try to sway it this way and that. I never quite got the knack of visualizing that flame, or my thoughts as little gusts trying to snuff it out, but I thought there was something interesting to it.
My variation on the flame meditation is repetition:
Count to 100- #Srsly- all the way to 100. It’s amazing how completely this slows down your day and brings you into the exact moment you’re in. Persisting up to 100 really makes you realize how easy it can be to still yourself and find joy wherever you are. Especially if you’re in a nice hot bath.
Have a mantra. I experience anxiety. It can be brutal and sickening, and sometimes it’s so intense it burns, but I refuse to let it stop me from anything or rob me of living. One of the things that’s helped when my anxiety is burning bright is repeating: ‘this is the fire that forges nerves of steel’. Over and over. It takes a feeling that seems excruciatingly negative and completely transforms it. It doesn’t get rid of the anxiety- it helps me to embrace it and feel powerful with it, all the while silencing the barrage of thoughts (and guilt) that accompany anxiety.
Sing (loudly!). I’m willing to bet I’ve inadvertently given numerous people a laugh as they pull up and see me passionately belting out tunes in my car. It is one of my all time favourite things- singing. I do it when I’m alone, when I’m in the shower, when I’m driving… It is a powerful way to feel centered and connected. And you don’t have to be good at it AT ALL. You just have to put your heart in it.
For me the point of finding a personal practice of meditation is less about appropriating form than it is about finding a way to still that crazy fast train of thought and get back to what matters.
Do you have your own personal form of meditation?
Originally published at www.janebarkley.com.