Part of Yoga Teacher Training has been to spend many hours learning about meditation. I knew this was going to be a challenge for me. I have what is known as a "monkey mind" but mine is on speed. Monkey mind is a reflection of the mental chatter that goes on in all of our minds. I know whenever I sit down to have a quiet moment, my mind immediately goes into overdrive thinking of such pressing and important issues as emptying the dishwasher and folding that load of laundry that has been sitting in the dryer for a day and a half (I know I need to get out more).
So it was with some skepticism that I arrived at my first mediation workshop. I was prepared to keep an open mind as with all things yoga, and when I do I have literally been blown away. I learned that everyone has monkey mind and this following analogy really resonated with me. Think of your mind as a boat, the wind makes it go in every direction without much control (this is the monkey mind). To bring the boat back to stillness you need some anchors. In meditation these anchors can be your breath, your heartbeat, a mantra, or prayer. It can be following a guided meditation, taking some of the work out of it for the person (me) who is meditating (this is my personal favorite).
And so, as a group we began to experiment with different anchors. To begin with I tried really hard on my anchor. I am the kind of person that if you sent me homework I am going to try to get an "A." But this is not the point of meditation or yoga; perfect performance is not the point, being present is and with all our imperfections and mental chatter. If the mind drifts off to the mundane then just bring it back, gently and with lots of self-compassion.
A major component of meditation is being present, not being in the past (remembering) and not considering the future (anticipating) - just being in the here and now.
Using my new-found skills, I started to meditate. It was not easy, to begin with my meditation time. At first I was meditating for a few seconds, not minutes. But it is called practice for a reason - it takes work, repetition, and consistent application. Slowly, every day the length of my meditating became longer. I found my meditation spot on my daily walks with Toby. I found my happy place away from the distraction of my house and while walking in the woods. With the help of a guided meditation app on my phone (told you I was a lightweight), I have graduated from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to a whole hour. By the time I get home I feel grounded, calm, centered and very peaceful.
I have tried running, aerobic classes, road biking, spin classes and other cardio activities in an attempt to get that endorphin high. Nothing has ever given me that high and deep-rooted sense of peace as yoga and meditation. I guess this 5000 year old practice is worth pursuing a little more.
Until next time -