“What is the path of meditation? Your present-moment experience. What is your curriculum? Your life, as it is. Not somebody else’s life, not your ideal life – your life.” ~Will Kabat-Zinn
I love this quote from Will Kabat-Zinn, a Mindfulness teacher out of San Francisco. He speaks to that part of us that thinks practicing meditation and mindfulness is about performing better or getting us out of pain. It also speaks to the fact that meditation is often portrayed as this thing you do, and you’ll come out looking youthful, cross-legged, and happy… that everyone comes out the same. That’s the furthest thing from the truth!
The reason I teach meditation and mindfulness in all my coaching programs and relationships is because the beauty of these practices puts you in touch with what’s going on in your mind, and that starts to help you to be yourself. You start to connect with the real YOU and that it’s ok to BE YOU instead of the harsh critic in your mind. But I know the beginning is often fueled by wanting to find peace or change of some sort. The truth is that as you keep going, you will continue to face YOU in each new context you experience. The great thing is that after practicing for some time, you’ll begin to see that life is happening according to how you show up. You’ll still meet challenges but maybe now, instead of succumbing to fear and panic, you will wear a bit more confidence and perhaps emit a small chuckle.
So if you are thinking of starting a new meditation or mindfulness practice in order to connect with yourself better (so you can understand your reactions, make better choices, and de-stress), then here are a few key steps I want to pass along to make your entry smoother:
Get Good Instruction: There are many types of meditation and many ways to teach meditation. Getting sound instruction in the beginning will help you develop good habits. You’re choosing a healthcare provider for your mind! If you use an app or other digital tool, make sure the teacher behind it has demonstrated experience. Find out what he or she says about why they meditate and see if it resonates with you. If you meet them in person, see if they take an interest in who you are, not just what they have to say to you. A good meditation teacher is a very caring person. (For an introduction to meditation you can check out my Just For Now series or book a meditation and mindfulness session with me here.)
Pay Attention to Your Body: One of the early experiences in meditation tends to be noticing a flood of thoughts about everything and anything! It’s easy to think your job is to stop that flood and manage it all. That’s where the body comes in handy. You’re breathing, you have senses, your body is always touching some surface somewhere. These sensations help you notice that you are where you are.
Be Kind to Yourself: For whatever reason, most of us tend to rip into ourselves when we get some time alone with our thoughts. Why didn’t I? Why don’t I? What’s the matter with me? Meditation puts you in touch with this undercurrent of self-blame and gives you a chance to come back to your breath and to where you are. Notice the subtle sensations in your body that these thoughts can create. At the moment, you can cut yourself a break for being a human being.
Don’t Try Too Hard: Since meditation includes instructions to follow, however simple, it’s easy to try so hard to do it “right” that you just give up. Yet it’s the positive experiences – like noticing some peace of mind has quietly crept in – that really keep you going. Just let them happen. Surprise!
No Big Deal: One of the most enjoyable aspects of starting to practice meditation is that in those moments when we finally stop trying to be good at it, we get a chance to laugh at ourselves over how hard we try to just be here. Just put one foot in front of the other.
I hope you find these tips helpful. My intention is to be a kind and wise voice that is there just when you need it!
If this speaks to you, feel free to reach out and let me know what resonates. I’ve got a lot more where that comes from!
To feeling well!
If this resonates with you and you’d like to overcome some of your own barriers to living the life you want, then click here and I’ll make sure we connect. And you know I like to share the love, so if you know someone who could benefit from this article then please share it! Imagine, thought by thought and act by act we are creating a more conscious world.