So if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you might have caught the fact that I’m dedicating the month of June to cultivating my daily meditation practice. Making meditation a more consistent part of my life and daily routine has long been on my to-do list (both short- and long-term), but it just hasn’t been happening this year! Until now.
Ah, the beauty of dreaming up a goal, committing to it (usually, for me, by putting it to paper), and then taking the steps to fulfill it! The hardest part, of course, is always that first step – to begin, and then begin again if (who’re we kidding, when) you need to.
That’s the beautiful part about meditation. Meditation in itself is a process that is always beginning again. Though in essence a simple practice (one of the most common forms of meditation, vipasana, really just requires you to sit still and focus on your breath – I’ve taken the liberty of googling the term for you here if you’re interested: vipasana resources), in reality our minds love to wander, to daydream, to plan, to analyze, to think and think some more (you get the idea). So why go against the grain of what our minds were seemingly made for – that is, to think?
Have you ever felt too “in your head”? Overwhelmed by the thought of bills to pay, choices to make about your career, or your relationship, or your living situation (or all three)? Have you ever lain in bed, unable to sleep for the myriad of thoughts whirling in your head? Or even gone through your daily commute, so lost in thought that you arrive at your destination without realizing the route you took to get there?
None of these thinking patterns on their own necessarily constitute a huge problem – they’re only natural, right? However, together they reinforce a dangerous precedent for the way you choose to experience your life. Your precious, short, one-of-a-kind-only-happening-right-now-this-very-moment life. In short, you’re not living it. You’re too “in your head.”
Meditation helps you get out of your head, in a sense. By focusing very clearly and intentionally on one simple, present thing (say, your breath), you are choosing to engage with the true moment at hand. YOUR true moment. You begin to realize the thoughts whirling in your brain are just those – thoughts. Judgments, perceptions, reactions – not, in fact, the real world around you. The more you practice, the more you manage to grasp those moments of clarity, of simply being and experiencing, instead of dicing it all up with the analyzing, classifying, reacting processes of the monkey mind that usually likes to run your brain. And the more you practice being, the less time you spend reacting, which ultimately leads to a less stressful, more equanimous you.
I am not the paragon of equanimity, by any means. Which is why I’m starting small (only 5 minutes a day), and building from there week by week (ultimately I’d like to make a 20-minute meditation my daily habit). I know already that might be tough – some days get squeezed tight, right? There are days when 5 minutes might be hard. But the benefits of meditation make it worth prioritizing, for my own peace of mind, as well as for how that peace of mind affects those around me.
Wish me luck, and happy meditating!