Meditation - Better than doing nothing!

February 2017

Meditation is one of those things that has knocked at my door a few times over the years.  I peeked through the door once or twice, thought it looked boring or difficult, and closed it again.  Recently I opened the door and let it in, and now I'm beginning to get to know this new addition.

Part of my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) was a private practice to be done every day.  Mine was based on jnana yoga - the study of yourself.  I was supposed to do nothing for 15 minutes every day.  Sounds easy right?  Not for me.  I have never done nothing.  I can read for 15 minutes, I can talk for 15 minutes.  I can even drive for 15 minutes!  But to stare into space and do nothing was a challenge.

My jnana practice will get it's own blog post eventually, but it connects to this one because I sometimes meditated instead of doing nothing.  I guess that's how meditation got through the door - I was doing nothing and it slipped in.  Even though my jnana practice and meditation seem very similar, the "action" of meditation is focusing on breath, and trying to focus on nothing else.  It gave me a goal that doing nothing didn't provide.  There's the advertisement for you: "Meditation - better than doing nothing!"

My YTT is ending soon, and when my teacher offered an eight-week yoga workshop, I signed up.  It's only an hour and 15 minutes once a week, so it's easy.  The trick is that I need to do my homework, which is to meditate every day.

The first few days after the first workshop session, I couldn't seem to get out of my own way.  This morning, Monday, I turned over a new leaf.  When my first cup of coffee was done, I turned on the timer, got comfortable, closed my eyes, and meditated for 10 minutes.  And that's when I had my a-ha moment.

Here's what came to me this morning.  Just as yoga is a practice, so is meditation.  If I expect that I am going to sit down, clear my mind, and think about nothing for 10 minutes, I'm going to be disappointed.  I'm going to assume I can't meditate.  But it doesn't work like that.  What I need to start telling myself is that I'm practicing meditation.  If I close my eyes, and out of 10 minutes I manage to focus on just my breath for 30 seconds, that's my meditation for that day.  Eventually if I keep practicing, I'll get better.  Even just closing my eyes and allowing my mind to roam is better than being constantly active and always "doing".  If I sit still and get a little bit of actual meditation, that's a bonus.

It seems like a simple concept, but until today, I thought that meditation was something that you could either do or not do.  I wanted to give myself a pass or a fail - no grades in between.  Now I realize that meditation is just like yoga - some days you feel like you've finally mastered it, and other days you wonder why you bother.  I'm excited to see what this practice brings in the days to come.