When I was in high school, I took a psychology class. It was one of the few high school classes I enjoyed. The teacher, Mr. Mascari, taught us a relaxation technique I went on to use for many years. I would close my eyes and imagine the sun shining on my head. I would feel its warmth. I would then feel it running down my face and neck, over my shoulders, down my back, torso, arms, and hands to my fingertips; down my midsection and then my legs, and feet until I was wrapped in a cocoon of the sun’s warmth. That was my first taste of meditation.
One of my college roommates/best friends, Larry, and I used to use another technique to relax before spring semester final exams. At the center of our campus (the State University of New York at Albany) was a huge fountain. Larry and I would stare at the water, watch it spray up, and flow down. It was very relaxing. (It wasn’t available for fall semester finals because the fountains were off for the winter during exams time in December.)
From the breathing I’ve learned in yoga, breathing as a form of meditation has helped me to fall asleep. I taught my kids the same thing when they were young and would wake up in the middle of the night and complain of scary dreams. It’s thinking that keeps me awake at night, and when I focus on my breathing, it’s hard to think of anything else, and I tend to fall asleep.
In recent years, I’ve read quite a bit about meditation, and I’ve taken some meditation classes. I often feel like I’ve struck out at meditation because I have so much trouble clearing my mind. When I sit still and try to focus on my breathing in the morning, I tend to start thinking of the day ahead and if I think of something I want to do that day, I feel like writing it down so I won’t forget.
I also often feel like I don’t have enough patience to stick with meditation for more than 10 minutes because I am eager to get my day started. Of course, that’s completely discounting meditation as part of getting my day started.
Here’s how I’ve come to terms with meditation for now: just as meditation is a way to let go of thinking, I let go of all my notions about the “right way” to meditate. Instead I just do it, even if just for a few minutes each day, and trust in its benefits (which are well documented). I also let go of my concern that I am not an expert and am not writing here about meditation the “right away.” Just like the rest of what I write about, the only thing I’m an expert in is myself and my experiences, and that’s what I’m sharing, and what I hope you will share too.
What are your experiences with meditation? Join the conversation with your comments…