My early perception of meditation was that I had to sit still, be quiet, & clear the mind of all thoughts. I tried. I tried often over the years but each time, I got discouraged, believing that “I wasn’t doing it right.” I’ve since redefined meditation for myself. Meditation is about listening, taking the time to focus on my own well-being & need for a bit more tranquility in my life. It doesn’t necessarily require sitting in silence on a cushion, although that method works well for many people. Instead, it might be a method that incorporates chanting or walking as a way to focus the attention.
I recently offered an evening session called “The Meditation Buffet” for curious women open to exploring different meditative techniques. Just like some of us recharge our mental/emotional batteries by being alone while others get energy from being in a group, we have different spiritual needs as well. Some people need singing, dancing, & movement while others need contemplative, serene spiritual experiences. It’s not surprising that we are different in the way we meditate, too.
The Meditation Buffet came out of conversations with friends & a few co-workers. Most either had no meditative practice or if they did, it was infrequent. Why? Three statements frequently come up…
“I don’t have enough time.”
“I can’t sit still for that long.”
“I can’t clear my mind of thoughts.”
I designed The Meditation Buffet to address those three concerns & offer possible solutions to busy women who may not have the time to explore these techniques in-depth. (Like a quick taste of an unfamiliar food on a buffet table, a 15-minute introduction to a meditative technique is sufficient to determine whether or not it suits your personality & lifestyle. Let’s face it, you know when something’s right & when it’s not if you let your intuition guide you.)
“I don’t have enough time.” With full-time jobs, kids, errands, & other obligations, the time to care for our whole self- physical, mental, spiritual, & emotional- slips to the bottom of the list of priorities. Everyone & everything else comes first. Eventually, this catches up with us in the forms of anxiety, sleeplessness, & illness. We can’t continue to give when we have nothing left to give. Meditation gives us an opportunity to center ourselves & find peace among the chaos. When I was a girl, I had a friend who came from a large family. The only time she could study quietly was in the bathroom. She’d lock the door then climb into the dry bathtub, shutting out the world with a shower curtain. You might be laughing but for some people, that’s a possible solution for a bit of privacy. So, before you say you don’t have time to meditate, get creative. Think outside the box. Maybe you need to think inside the bathtub! This is the hardest excuse to overcome because it means making a commitment to yourself. It means saying “I’m worth it” and following through regularly.
“I can’t sit still for that long.” In the workshop, we tried a couple of techniques described in John Hudson’s book Meditation: Simple Steps to Peace, Well-Being, & Contentment and a few that I learned from other sources, including a beautifully serene walking meditation I first practiced at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. A participant in the group introduced the rest of us to Birds’ Nest Meditation, which required us to sit in nature, as if in a nest, & heighten our awareness of the world around us. I found this grounded me & brought a sense of peace from being fully present in the moment. I recommend Hudson’s book for it has “everyday techniques accessible to everyone” on topics such as postures, mantras, & visualizations. It’s definitely worth reading if you are new to meditation or still searching for a method that works for you.
“I can’t clear my mind.” That’s perfectly natural. I’m not aware of anyone on the planet who is able to free their mind of every thought every time they meditate. Sometimes, the best we can do is respectfully recognize that we have a lot on our minds & with loving kindness toward ourselves, let each thought drift away like a colorful sailboat on the river of our consciousness. Acknowledge the thoughts & let them flow. Do this over & over if you have to, breathing deeply each time you notice another thought trying to distract you from the process. Do the best you can with this & let that be good enough. You will improve with practice.
I’m far from perfect when it comes to meditating regularly. I, too, use excuses when it “doesn’t suit me”; however, I fully admit that I feel out of alignment with my higher self when I neglect my need for solitude & peace. I’m writing from a place of knowing.