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I’m Learning How to Meditate
I’m learning how to meditate, and just writing that kind of makes me crack up because it sounds so terribly new-agey and I am not a hippie. You aren’t going to find patchouli at my place, yo.
Meditation is something I sort of wandered into through trying to cope with the grief of my brother’s death. I got hooked because through meditation, I could remember my dreams, and so often he was in them, and they made me so happy.
Over time, I noticed that they helped me focus and what I thought was my bi-polar disorder (but was actually completely PTSD) was getting better, so, WOW. Worth it.
And I keep trying.
In This Post You Will Find:
First things first though: What IS Meditation?!
I’m jumping ahead of myself. I didn’t even get to what meditation is. Here’s a short video that I think does a great job of outlining what mediation is, and how to meditate:
Right? Pretty great, huh.
I really like this one on how to meditate, too:
“Monkey Mind” – totally says it all.
So, like I said at the beginning, I’ve been trying.
I’ve been trying really hard, and really consistently. Every morning, first thing after I roll out of bed (pretty much – I mean, I go to the outhouse and have a few sips of coffee, get arranged, and then go for it).
What Worked & Didn’t Work in Learning to Meditate:
I know people that love everything that didn’t work for me, and hate everything that DID. I think it’s super important to remember that this is NOT one-size-fits all. If you are not digging something, swap out and give something else a shot. Keep going till you find something that works for YOU.
This is what did and didn’t for me.
- Headspace: an app that guides you. It didn’t work for me, too talkey and British-y.
- Meditative music: a channel on Spotify that has “deep meditation” music, designed to really get you in a space. It didn’t work for me. I got too distracted.
- Meditation Mini-Podcasts: also on Spotify, a free podcast by Chel Hamilton that doesn’t work for me for trying to really get in the zone, but is great to listen to if I’m driving and pissed off. It has stuff like “Tigers Don’t Struggle and Neither Should You”
- Calm Piano Music for Meditation: on Spotify, kind of worked but not really.
- No sounds at all: nope, didn’t work, I get too distracted.
Hemi-Sync – this weird, buzzing sound-stuff that I found on i-Tunes that is supposed to connect the spheres of your brain. So far, it’s really working for me. I don’t know what it is, but when I get my headphones on and turn that on, it’s a lot easier for my mind to not get distracted. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t at all – the monkey still goes; it’s just a lot calmer.
Kundalini Yoga:All yoga is about breathing, but kundalini yoga is intensely focused on it, more so than other types. It can help get me in a meditative state. I tune into the yoga videos on Gaia(and Gaia is awesome: captioned yoga, captioned meditation series – you can try one month for free by clicking here).
Walking: yep. Especially uphill.
You don’t need stuff to meditate. I hope that’s crystal clear. You can be a zen-master of a meditator with absolutely nothing. This is not a case of you have to buy it to get better at it, because the only thing you really need to meditate is to be alive, and have focus.
But stuff helps!
I use my meditation cushion – I sit with my butt on it and my knees on the floor – it helps keep my back straight and my breathing aligned. I thought it was baloney before I tried it (how much can a cushion really do?!); now I’m a convert.
Which one do you get? I got mine online, from Amazon – you can see a whole bunch of meditation cushions there by clicking here.
If you use a smelling candle that is synthetic (like, added chemicals that smell like something natural), it affects you, and not in a nice way. Either get a candle that has no scent and is made of something natural or make sure it’s scented naturally. While I love Target, I don’t buy any candles there because it feels impossible to buy something that is actually natural there – they ALL have chemicals.
For scented and natural, I haven’t found anything better than Coventry. Hands down, they smell the nicest and are the most wonderful candles, ever. Protection is my favorite, it’slinked here. I also get the unscented plain candles,linked here.
3. Kundalini Yoga:
I originally got into this type of yoga when I worked in Berkeley and was trying to quit smoking cigarettes. It was great because it focuses so much on breathing.
Well, it’s not just great for trying to quit smoking; it’s the best yoga there is, I think, for meditation. It’s all about breath work and focus.
This link to Gurmukh’s Kundalini Yoga DVD is the best Kundalini DVD that I have. I love it. I do also tune into Gaia most mornings, because they have CAPTIONED Kundalini yoga sessions on, as well as this fantastic series called “Yoga Every Day” (it’s Hatha yoga, but excellent). Link to Gaia is here.
4. i-Phone, Headphones and Timer: no link here, but these really helped me. I set my timer to vibrate – always on a set 15 minutes so I keep it short (so I’ll keep trying). I use headphones because those help me focus on the Hemi-Sync sounds.
Learning how to meditate
It’s sort of easy and really hard. It can be boring and an exercise in distraction and focus. I am constantly dealing with my “monkey mind.”
What keeps me going is how different I feel after I do it. Even if I spend most of the 15 minutes trying to keep my mind from drifting around, even if I only spend about 30 seconds truly centered, the space that I end up spending the rest of my day in is immeasurably better.
I’m not kidding. It’s amazing. I hope you try it, and I hope this helps get you going if you are interested in it.
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.