If you have made it this far, you might be asking, “Is Meditation for me???” Over the years I have taught people who thought that they couldn’t sit still, needed to empty their minds during meditation, or had tried meditation and “failed” at it. Most of us have some preconceived idea of a meditator: A pius looking person perched for hours on a cushion in pure bliss. Hands folded neatly or in some mysterious hand mudra taught to them in a cave by a wise guru. Enlightenment and peace following them everywhere. Calmly following our breath on the path to enlightenment. Ahhh…NAMASTE!
The reality is that it doesn’t look like that!
We have 60-80K thoughts per day. Many of them occur during meditation. In fact, if you have no thoughts during meditation, you are clinically dead. The thoughts we have are often not peaceful. Why can’t my sister-in-law get anywhere on time? Where did I leave my sunglasses? What if someone has an old housekey and gets into my house? Why are maple doughnuts so darn good? Did I turn the oven off? I wonder if the Google car has driven by my house? And for me personally, every few days a ZZ Top song creeps into my head and it takes over my meditation.
Each time we notice that we have wandered into thought and return back to our breath, we are building the meditation muscle! It’s not how long you can sit without thoughts – it’s how kindly you can come back to your breath and begin again. Without judgment. That’s the “secret sauce” of meditation.
How does this exercise benefit us? It teachers our minds to put a little bit of space between stimulus – what happens to us – and reaction. And it often turns that reaction into a response. That tiny gap can be so powerful. It’s the space where you get to decide if you will snark back at your spouse, get impatient with your kids, or put up you middle finger when a car gets in “your” lane. Each time we return kindly to our breath, we teach our brain that little pause.
If you are intimidated by the thought of attending a meditation class, I encourage you to come in and try it out. Every single teacher, every person you see on a meditation cushion, and even the Dalai Lama had a first meditation. Is today your day?