30 Jan Is There A Right Way To Meditate?
When you hear the word ‘meditation’, what comes to mind for you?
I ask all of my patients about their experience with meditation. Do they practice it currently? Have they ever tried it? What is holding them back? In my experience, the most common response is, “I’ve tried but I’m not good at it”. This was even my initial response when I first started meditating. I completely understand where it comes from and why my patients feel this way but it is a major barrier to setting up a consistent meditation practice. I know the many benefits of meditation and I want it to feel doable and accessible for everyone. So where does the “I’m not good at it” statement come from and how do we change the way we talk about meditation?
In my opinion, there is no “right way” to meditate.
It’s a widely believed notion that meditating “properly” means completely clearing your mind and achieving a state of pure thoughtlessness or even transcendence. I believe that it is this notion that hinders many people from creating a consistent meditation practice. Aiming for thoughtlessness can easily cause doubt and feelings of inadequacy. A clear mind might be the long-term goal for practiced meditators but should not be expected initially. It would be like trying figure skating for the first time and assuming you would immediately be able to complete a triple axel jump. It sounds ridiculous, right?!
I do recognize that there are a variety of types of meditation with clear guidelines outlining the right way to meditate within their teachings. There are even types of meditation where the goal is transcendence. However, my point is that there is no right way for everyone. I want to help you start meditating by keeping it simple and free from judgment. Once you decide whether or not you find meditation helpful, then you can dive deep into the different forms and which one feels best for you!
Pause, Breathe, and Be Present.
Let’s reframe how we think about meditation and look at the more practical goals of a meditation practice in our current 21st century high-stress, fast-paced, non-stop Western culture. For most people, the goal isn’t to reach thoughtlessness, transcendence, or communication with a higher power, it’s to better manage their mood, their stress, and their physical health. We can achieve this goal by making time to pause, focus on our breath, tune into our thoughts, and concentrate on only what is going on in our mind and body in this present moment. I’m not asking you to stop your thoughts and sit with a clear mind. I’m asking you to notice your thoughts, pay attention to them, and then let them go. I’m asking you to learn how to focus (on your breath or whatever point of focus you decide), get distracted (inevitably), and then refocus. You can repeat this cycle as many times as necessary within your allotted meditation time. Most importantly, I’m asking you to take a moment each day to check in, better understand your mind and body, and listen to what you need. Be fully present in the moment. I believe that this is the real purpose of meditation. It starts with a scheduled daily practice and develops into a way of living.
Do you feel ready to give it a try? My number one recommendation is to keep it simple.
- Choose a consistent time of day: morning, before work, lunch break, after work, before bed, etc.
- Choose a manageable time: 1 min, 5 min, 10 min or more.
- Decide on a point of focus: breath, mantra, visualization, etc.
- Decide whether you prefer silence with a timer or a guided meditation and find one you enjoy!
- Sit and breathe. With no judgment.
- Repeat daily, or as often as you can manage.
How can I support you?
I can help you figure out how to best start your meditation practice, understand your goals, and add it into your daily life in a sustainable way. A way that feels successful for you. You can check out my Mindfulness March blog post for some helpful tips or check out my clinics page to get in touch with me about setting up an appointment. Happy Meditating 🙂