Sitting in the park, eyes closed, breathing in the smells of the grass, a far of barbecue. Hearing the birds, the insects, puppies and a nearby cricket match taking place.
The heat prickles my skin until, without warning a light breeze tickles my legs and then swishes past my face, indicating the direction it is blowing in and making my skin chill and – as quickly as it arrived – it is gone and replaced again by the warmth of the day.
I feel my mind pull away from this glorious moment and a flurry of thoughts storm into my mind.
// Should I grab my phone and Instagram this moment?
// What should I do for dinner?
// What am I going to write about this week?
But, instead of shaking my head and getting frustrated by my lapse of concentration, I draw in another breath and come back to noticing the pure bliss of the afternoon around me, releasing the over thinking for a little bit longer.
It’s as though I’m truly coming to understand the meaning of presence.
Meditation is something that everyone talks about as being pretty much ‘the best thing you can do’. I grew up with an awareness of it (thanks, parents) but, for some reason, really shied away from it and almost rejected it from my life the more I got into being a coach (cos ‘everyone’ does it and that didn’t feel like a good enough reason to do it).
But, little by little, it snuck into my life and started to become less of a hazard of my job, and more of a devotion to being more present.
So, I thought I’d share how I learned to love meditation, because I’m addicted and I don’t think that’s going to change.
It’s called a practice for a reason
I know I’m not the only person who finds meditation challenging because of how many conversations I’ve had about how difficult it is.
Up until recently I actively resisted sitting on my butt for a few minutes a day. I was too busy. I was too crap at it. It wasn’t for me. And so on, and so forth but, the thing about resistance is, it usually shows up around things you really want or need in your life.
If you’re anything like me, you might think you should be good at it (but this is a post for another time). But it’s called a practice for a reason. You must practice. And practice. And practice with an open mind and a bit of self compassion. Because that is how you get better.
You are in control
I’m putting this out there, sometimes we let our mind take over (understatement of the year?). It’ll run rampant across every aspect of our lives if we let it (and you know what I’m talking about, crazy thought loops and downward hate spirals included).
But, you are in control. Of your thoughts, of your body, of your ability to find comfort in the present moment.
You just have to remember that and keep coming back to observing now instead of getting caught up in your mind chatter.
Keep Coming Back
It’s funny, I didn’t even see Gabrielle Bernstein when she came to Australia (terrible decision, I know) but I have the luck of having wonderful friends who have passed her knowledge on to me since.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, she is among one of – what Oprah calls – the next generation of thought leaders. She’s also a meditation pro and a self-confessed spirit junkie. And even she admits that she gets off track while meditating (I’m told).
The emphasis is not about rejecting distracting thoughts popping into your mind – they are inevitable – it’s how long you allow them to take over before you come back to being present.
Change your mindset
When I first drafted this post, I hadn’t learned this yet but, as luck would have it, I decided to put off publishing just long enough to learn the most important part of meditation.
I have suddenly adopted a whole new mindset towards meditation. I’m talking overnight, in an instant after years of resistance kind of sudden.
I now believe it is easy.
I do it every day, no excuses.
And I am completely devoted to it.
I have stopped fighting what sitting in stillness used to mean to me (that I was just doing it because I thought I should, or that it was too ‘woowoo’ for me) and now I do it because I choose to. Because I want to. And also because:
// It helps me focus.
// It gives me clarity and a fresh start to the day.
// It truly relaxes me.
// And it centres me in a way that I have never achieved before.
Because it is changing my life and I finally understand.
I don’t want you to think this has been an overnight transformation for me. A lot of things contributed to me arriving at this point, but I hope that you can see how I have found it helpful and maybe it will inspire you to give meditation another go.
If you’re in need of some kick ass resources to get you started, here are some of my faves:
+ Deepak Chopra and Oprah release a free 21-Day Meditation Challenge every few months that is delivered straight to your inbox and contains beautiful guided meditations on powerful subjects (there’s one starting in March).
+ Gorgeous soul, Tahlee of Sonesence creates incredible ‘meditone’ tracks that make meditation so easy (using science, my friends). You can get her tracks here, or sign up to her newsletter to try out a sample track.
+ Gabrielle Bernstein has some great guided meditations on iTunes for a ridiculously affordable $1.69 each or you can check her Podcast out for some quick, easy and free meditations.
+ A free iPhone app called ‘Insight Timer’ allows you to set a specific meditation time and will ding when the time is up. This is a really good way to build up to meditating. Start really low, just a few minutes at a time, and do something simple like count your breaths up to 20, starting again when a thought interrupts you.
It would seem there are about a squillion ways to get started on meditation. I promise, it’s popular because it really is that good, if you’re game to give it a go.
These are the resources that I used to get me started but please let me know in the comments below if you have any tips or suggestions or tools of your own to recommend! OR if you struggle with meditation (or have just fallen in love with it too), let me know all about that as well!