05 May Meditation Advice from Karen Anderson
May Meditation Challenge
Waking up early in the morning is hard to do for most people.
You know, when you have to set your alarm super early after going to bed super late? It’s pitch black when it goes off, and all you want to do is cover your head with your warm, snuggly blankets, go back to sleep, wish the world away, and pray it isn’t so?
Well, at some point life becomes just like that.
The alarm bells go off; whether from a mental break down, a diagnosis, a death, or some other significant crisis, and we are faced with either waking up in the dark when it feels scary and difficult, or shutting out the reality and going back to sleep.
Now, it doesn’t have to be an “all hands on deck” type of situation to bring you to the existential questions of: “Is this all there is?”, “Who Am I?”, “What is my purpose?”.
It could be something as simple as a suggestion made from a friend: “You should try meditation.”
All of a sudden, you get curious. You begin to google about the effects of meditation. You download a meditation App. You find a workshop/class on meditation.
You begin the journey home.
And, as we all know, home is where the heart is. Deep within our own hearts lie the answers to our deepest darkest fears, questions, and wisdom. Deep within is where we find true, ultimate, and radical peace.
Through the practice of meditation, you will begin to feel better, more alive, and more awake.
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation Advice From Karen Anderson
Congratulations on committing to a month of connecting to you! You deserve it!
Here are a few tips I’ve gathered along the way that might be helpful:
- Relax. Don’t try too hard! Cultivate relaxed effort, such that the effort itself is pleasant. How do you know if you’re applying too much energy? You’ll feel restless and irritable. Practice instead gently being with whatever arises. One of the greatest gifts of meditation is to learn to be easy, even with unease in the body and mind. This gives us confidence that we can maintain well-being through the ups and downs of life.
- Be clear. One of the biggest pitfalls in meditation is spacing out. While this can be pleasant, training in dullness won’t improve your life. The idea of meditation is to wake up! If you find that you don’t know what’s happening, you can sit up straighter and pay closer attention. Become curious about your experience. This leads to full, awake living.
- Don’t look for anything ‘special.’ Sometimes people experience passing states of bliss, or see lights, or whatever. These are just by-products of the practice, and they are not important. Most people get attached to these experiences and try to recreate them, and the experiences become hindrances. Or if we don’t have anything special happen, we think we’re not doing it right. The idea of practice isn’t to become special, it’s to become connected. Try to embrace your experience as it is, don’t look for a different experience.
- Follow through. Commit to a length of time to sit that works for you, and sit for that length of time- the best way is to set a timer and put it behind you. Sometimes we think we’re not accomplishing anything when our meditation isn’t ‘going well,’ so we end the session. But those can be the most beneficial practices- learning to stay put when things aren’t going the way we want! It turns out there isn’t such thing as a good or a bad session. See for yourself, I find that I feel just as good after a session that went ‘well’ as one that didn’t.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself a treat for sitting. A small piece of chocolate, or burning some incense, whatever you would enjoy. Once you’re addicted to meditation, it will be a treat in itself, I guarantee it! Until then, give yourself an extra incentive to reinforce the new habit.