the number one problem with mediation is the idea that you have to sit cross-legged on the floor
I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor comfortably for longer than 5 minutes.
After minute 4 or so my hips start to ache. After about ten minutes my hips feel like they are on fire. Which is counterintuitive because I do a lot of yoga and I have pretty open hips. In my head, there would be thoughts about this. The discomfort always turns to pain by the 10-minute mark to which I think,
I’ll just cross my legs the other way.
So I do. Immediately afterward, I feel like a failure because mediation is all about sitting still and quieting the mind, right? I’m all over here in agony thinking constant thoughts about how uncomfortable I am.
Before minute 13 or so my lower back and shoulders start to turn rigid and my other hip starts to ache just as I felt the pins and needles kick in. I always think, there has to be a better way.
break the rules
Thankfully, there are other kinds of meditation practices that don’t require you to sit upright on a hard floor. In Transcendental Meditation, you are taught to sit upright in a chair with your hands in your lap.
Know that you have the option to sit in any supported and comfortable position for your practice. When I tried meditating in comfortable seated position all of my resistance to meditating went away.
meditating isn’t about confronting pain, it’s about resting your conscious mind
I have met some people who were schooled in other forms of meditation who believe that the discomfort and pain that comes from sitting on the floor for longer periods of time is beneficial in training your mind to not be reactive. I think that idea is nuts. If you’re someone who finds the practice of putting yourself into pain beneficial, then I’d say that has more to do your karma than finding accessible ways to meditate.
And please don’t think that you are doing some watered-down version of meditation if you do choose to sit supported, or think that meditators who sit upright on the floor are doing a more sophisticated version of mediation. Not at all. Meditating is about giving your conscious mind a space to rest without having to think.
the second obstacle to mediation is in finding the discipline to do it
Even if you knew every single benefit that meditation brings, you might be highly motivated to practice but you will still need daily discipline to stop in the middle of your busy day and take the time to meditate. The best way to overcome that obstacle is to begin meditating first thing in the morning right when you wake up.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking why then? I’m not stressed right when I wake up.
I want to offer this to you: meditation is not time-of-day dependent for effectiveness. The only criteria are that you be awake, be sitting upright, close your eyes, and do it daily.
So, if that’s the case, it makes sense to take advantage of the ritual of waking up in your bed and capture your meditation time right then.
the rpm method
I find the easiest way to start a meditation practice is to use the RPM method.
RPM stands for RISE-PEE-MEDITATE.
As soon as you wake up, get yourself up and pee so that you’re comfortable and awake enough to begin. Then return to bed and prop yourself up to sitting with your pillows. Get comfortable. Close your eyes and take 10-15 minutes right then to meditate. This is the easiest method I know of to begin a mediation practice.
Meditating right when you get up is great because there aren’t a lot of disturbances in your thoughts from your day yet. This means that you are more likely to experience deeper states of meditation.
how to think about meditating
Just release any thoughts that come up during your meditation. Try to relax all of your facial and body muscles. If you find yourself caught up in a train of thought during your meditation just release them as soon as you are aware of it; like letting go of a helium balloon. This is a natural and expected part of meditation practice, so don’t feel bad about it when you discover that you’ve been thinking. Your mind is like a toddler that wanders in meditation. Your job is to be a loving mother to yourself and redirect your mind gently and lovingly. Again and again and again.
thoughts like a toddler with a knife
Sometimes the mind in meditation is like a toddler with a knife. I’ve had friends tell me that disturbing or dark thoughts insert themselves into the open space that mediation practice provides. It can really freak you out. If this happens to you I want you to remember that we all have a shadow self that is dark and scary. It will grow if you resist it. Practice accepting that this is just the result of a conscious mind that is often fearful, stressed, and overworked. Know that meditation means providing a space for mental decompression to happen and that these disturbing thoughts will dissipate over time. Try not to make them mean anything more than that. Try not to anticipate anything because that would be thinking. :)on
Like a child who is fearful of the dark, your mind is unsure what to make of this mediation time where you are not requiring it to think for you. Show your mind that it’s okay and safe to rest by accepting and gently releasing thoughts that pop up and over time you’ll see that your mind will start to become comfortable here. When it does it will feel like expansion and a freedom. It’s like a mini mind vacation every morning.
You can repeat a mantra to yourself silently. So-hum or ohm or sat-nam are popular options. If you don’t like the idea of a mantra, then try focusing your attention on the sensation of the breath moving in and out of the nose. Every time your thoughts wander, bring your attention right back to the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your nose.
benefits of meditation
When I went through my Transcendental Meditation training, my teachers explained that meditation is like deep REM sleep for the conscious mind. so I found that when I first started meditating I would get very sleepy. After a few weeks that intense sleepy feeling went away as my mind became rested through meditation. Something about allowing the mind to be awake and conscious without requiring it to generate active thoughts allows the mind to run on a different frequency.
Some people believe that dropping your brainwave frequency through the practice of meditation is how you access your deepest intuition and inner wisdom. Studies have also been done that show that athletic performance benefits are correlated with regular meditation practice. Regular meditation practice also lowers your stress hormone levels and improves your blood chemistry.
what my practice does for me
Of course meditation doesn’t take my problems away, but I find that it does put a buffer between the inputs of life and my reactions. There have been times that that slight pause has made all of the difference in difficult conversations, or even in how I’m thinking in my own mind. That pause allows deeper impulses like empathy, intuition, and understanding to percolate into my conscious life and that’s make all of the difference.
Try the RPM (rise/pee/meditate) method to start a mediation practice and let me know what happens for you.