I was recently asked by one of my yoga students to share my insights on meditation for one of her college writing assignments and wanted to share my answers to her questions here on my blog.
Long story short: Meditation is one of the hardest things I do everyday but when I do it, I’m actually getting “sh*&t” done.
What is your personal definition of meditation?
Meditation comes in so many different forms to me but has the same meaning. It’s a time when I’m able to be still with myself and my mind feels free. I bring in many different kinds of meditation into my life each and everyday—“moving meditation”(yoga, running) and seated meditation. In either case, I am one with myself.
What led you to a life of practicing yoga and meditation on a daily level?
I fell in love with running in college and eventually was crazy enough to run my first marathon my senior year and that’s when I discovered meditation. I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was running those long runs I would get lost in myself. Thoughts would fade in and fade out and I felt an incredible sense of connection within myself.
Years later, my body was pretty beat up from running and I found yoga. That’s when everything made sense. Just like running, yoga became that same “moving meditation” where my mind became free. I feel in love with the practice and took a teacher training. I was hooked from there. I started teaching and within 9 months I left my corporate job of 6+ years to teach full time. I have never looked back.
Meditation became a more regular practice once I became a teacher. Running from class to class, my mind and my body needed a break and some time for stillness. That’s where seated meditation became a necessity in my life.
What about meditation is the most important to you or what part do you enjoy the most/is most beneficial?
We are constantly living and breathing in our minds all day long so when we give them a break to breathe it does amazing things. I find that after I meditate I feel grounded and clear. I have also found that it inspires creativity and new ideas.
How often do you meditate on a weekly basis both in and outside of work?
I make meditation a daily practice. Even if I only have 5 minutes that particular day, I make a conscious effort to sit down, close my eyes and bring stillness to my life. As a yoga and cycle teacher, my day is filled with being on the go from class to class and without a daily mediation practice I find that I feel very ungrounded.
For those who have never tried meditation what advice would you give? How easy or difficult is it to get started?
Meditation is not easy. As many would say, I love to get sH*& done! I thrive off of being productive and being “plugged” in. Meditation is the hardest thing for me to do but just like anything, you have to start somewhere and you need to make a conscious effort to make time for it. Just like you would schedule your work meetings or workouts, build in time once a day for mediation. Start off small. Start at 5 minutes and then through time try to increase to maybe 10 minutes to maybe eventually 30 or 45 minutes.
What tips could you lend for people who have attempted to meditate and are burdened with thoughts or too overwhelmed to feel relaxed?
1) Pick a space where you are not going to be easily distracted. Distraction can not only be caused by thoughts but also by people around you/live with you or the space itself (that bin of dirty laundry sitting next to you on the floor).
2) Get comfortable. Use pillows, blankets and elevate your hips above your knees. This will make for the most comfortable seated position. I would discourage laying down since you will most likely fall asleep.
3) Set a timer. Let the timer tell you when your session is done opposed to you constantly checking your clock. There’s tons of meditation apps that can help you with this as well as your iPhone timer.
4) It’s OK to think. It’s nearly impossible to have a blank mind as you come into mediation, especially as you first begin. Give yourself some forgiveness. Let the thoughts pass in and pass out and then through the passing of time you will feel more relaxed. It’s the resistance to letting yourself “just be” in this state that causes anxiety and the feelings of being overwhelmed.
5) Meditate with a friend. Just like you would go running or take a yoga class with one of your friends, set a time a couple times a week to meditate with a friend. This will keep you committed to your practice and provide a little bit more motivation for keeping up with it.
6) It’s a practice. Just like yoga, you don’t reach a point in meditation and it’s over. Your meditation practice will grow and evolve but it takes constant effort to make it happen on a regular basis.
Why would you encourage people to try meditation (maybe for those who may be skeptical) ?
Meditation is important. We thrive on getting “Sh*&” done. We are constantly keeping ourselves “busy” with our e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and our work and it’s exhausting on our nervous system. Being on the go and moving at a fast pace is not sustainable. We need time to chill out. We need time to step away. Meditation is where the real work takes place. It allows us to look deeper within ourselves.