Okay, I know, ANOTHER blog about meditation… yada yada yada… however, this blog stems from conversations I’ve had with others recently about my own meditation practices, and just how many others are NOT perfect at solid meditation for even 5 mins at a time. The impression I was developing through the years was that everyone else is able to sit still, breath steadily and concentrate on this practice! I found out that’s just not true.
Much like many people, I’ve had trouble focusing and concentrating for as long as I can remember. This can be compounded even more with anxiety, stress and panic, which deplete our ability to focus and be motivated.
Admittedly, I’ve had a sporadic relationship with meditation practices. As of late, I’ve made the effort to meditate every day, first thing in the morning after I get out of the shower. However, one thing I’m trying to figure out is which came first for me. The ambition, willingness and patience to realize the importance of practicing meditation, or the practice of meditation that’s influenced the patience and willingness to continue? I realize that, much like changing one’s own eating regimen, it’s very difficult to get into the right mindset to meditate on a regular basis.
I began my meditation journey with realizing a significant amount of my routine could already be correlated with some kind of practice of meditation. Just walking to and from work allowed me to focus on my breath, my posture, and heighten my senses. After a couple months of practicing that, it became a regular routine, without effort. I realized there were meditative tendencies when I would listen to certain songs that I recognized, sometimes getting lost in the rhythm or lyrics. I also became fairly Zen when I would be working on my garden. Even taking your morning shower is quite meditative. However, for numerous reasons, I lost focus on that for a little while.
Does it take someone to already want to change and make progress? Does this case run parallel with the adage that humans don’t deal with problems until the case has become extreme, or even life threatening? Well, for me, that seems to be the case. A back injury forced me to try practicing yoga 10 years or so ago, so I know that is a true mindset. And my yoga practice really helped perpetuate my drive to slow down with at least some deep breaths as often as possible, and really was the instigator for me realizing the meditative practices in my every day routine. In a way, I consider myself lucky for experiencing that literal pain to influence that mind shift. Now, I believe that there are many people out there that WANT to make some kind of change in their lives, no matter how big or small. It’s just that many of us are hesitant to do it. Or, maybe some just don’t feel they NEED to. Some of us just don’t make this kind of change a priority in our lives, and I understand that. Typically, our lives have been so jam-packed that we haven’t allowed much wiggle room, at least, that’s how some perceive it. But, maybe a life altering period in human history like this can allow some of us to be a little more open to change, while also be more intrigued in the idea of relieving a little bit of stress. I know it was easy for me to fall back to the mindset of just keeping up with life. With just surviving. There was a good period of more than a year, some months blending into the Covid period, where I almost completely abandoned the idea of meditating. I definitely didn’t practice it regularly, as I just didn’t even think about it. However, emotional circumstances helped me realize how far I had strayed away from meditation. Once again, an extreme situation had woken me up!
So, I started from scratch. I downloaded almost every meditation guidance app that’s available, and there are many! The most popular app out there is Calm, and it’s a very good app! Of course, the longest standing popular app out there I think is Headspace, and it’s quite good, especially for starting out. And I’ve found if you pay for the membership, you get access to quite a lot of content, and a good variety. And there’s variety of others such as Relax, Meditopia and fabulous, but the one that I use is Insight Timer. Of course, like the other popular apps, there is an option to pay for expanded access, but I feel I can get sufficient amount of guided meditation audio with the free version. There’s a great variety of meditation instructors and teacher recordings you can choose from, and you can also track your previous meditations. Years ago, before I started meditating, I had all of these assumptions that meditating required extreme concentration, had to be in a proper environment with incense and singing bowls. And that intimidated me, thinking that level could not be attained.
So, what came first? I believe a small amount of ambition and drive allowed me to try at first, but the persistence of the practice increased that ambition. Even during that time, I hadn’t fully understood yet the correlation of MENTAL HEALTH with my overall internal health. A nutrition regimen and exercise routine for the brain and mind. However, I had to hear that premise numerous times from others to begin to fully understand that. I am VERY thankful for those people!
Ok, so now this has gone from a typical meditation praise blog, to more insistence of the importance of mental health. I get it. I think that’s kind of the point though. Most of us are going through very trying and stressful times right now. And some may be coming to the realization that there are ways we can help ourselves, right in the comfort of our own homes. In my case, helping myself has allowed me to help others. And I know we all want to do that right now, but have such trouble spreading ourselves so thin. I believe meditation is just one way that we can bring ourselves back to the present. It can be one solution out of many to help our stress levels, and eventually allow ourselves to be available to others who are in need of support. But please don’t be discouraged if you try it at first, and are only able to sit for 5 seconds. You’ve taken the time to try, and that’s admirable! In the words of Joseph Goldstein, the creator of the Insight App, “Simply Begin Again”. That’s what meditation has allowed for me, for pulling myself inward and recognizing my thoughts and feelings, so I could bring my attention outward, and be some kind of support for even just 1 person. You’re definitely worth it! And so are your loved ones!