How the heck do you meditate? (AKA Meditation, Trusting Yourself, and Mumford & Sons)

Trust yourself.

Trust yourself.

Ok, I know that meditation is good for me/us.  (Really, really good for us.  If you want to know more check this out.)  I know that I could use some meditation in my life.  But I don’t know how to meditate.

I’ve considered buying a book.  But will a book really tell me how to meditate?  I’m not so sure it will.  Or I’m worried I won’t understand, and I’ll be doing it wrong.  I’ve asked a lot of friends about meditation, mindfulness, and mindfulness meditation.  Many friends have had suggestions for me of a book or of specific techniques.  They all look so happy as they tell me how great meditation/mindfulness is.  But somehow I still feel like I won’t get it.  Lately I’ve been wanting to find a class that will help me learn.  I’ve looked into transcendental meditation (apparently most programs are expensive).  I’ve looked into some Buddhist centers in the area.  I don’t quite feel at home with anything I’ve looked at.  There are tons of websites and blogs, with specific and non-specific suggestions, and yet I still don’t feel connected.  I’ve done some yoga in the past, and I liked some of it, but I didn’t feel very good at it, and plus it is so difficult to make time…

This morning in the shower (isn’t that always the way?) I realized something:  I’m afraid of trying to meditate.  I’m terrified I’m going to do it wrong.  I’m looking for that perfect option and then suddenly it will make sense, and until I find it, I’m not trying.  Even though I say I want to.

Last night all the things I need to do were spinning in my head.  I got home from class and just felt overwhelmed.  I put on some music I know calms me:  Mumford & Sons.  And then I sat on my floor, closed my eyes, and just breathed deeply.  Why did I do this?  I didn’t know.  I was overwhelmed, and I knew I needed to slow down.  I didn’t have a book, a teacher, or some specific plan.  I just knew I was going too fast, and I did what felt natural and what felt like it would work for me.  And it helped.

I don’t know how to meditate.  I’m convinced I don’t know what I’m doing.  But last night, I’m pretty sure I meditated.

So maybe I do know what I’m doing.  Maybe instead of worrying about books, teachers, classes, yoga, etc. I should just slow down long enough to listen to myself and do what feels right.  How about that?  Maybe if I just trusted myself to know what’s right for me (without comparing to others – what’s right for them doesn’t have to be right for me), and to try it, then maybe I’d suddenly be doing it.  Huh.  Feels pretty good.  Pretty promising.  Maybe, just maybe, I have some inner wisdom.

(As an aside, I bet you’ve experienced this with something – whether it is meditation, choosing what to wear, choosing a career, choosing a partner… basically any choice.  I hate being wrong.  Maybe you do too.  I’m writing about meditation, but I could just as easily be writing about trusting myself to make any type of choice.  So feel free to insert your own choice or activity you’re putting off until you know how to do it.)

I bet you have some inner wisdom too.  I bet we all do.  In the past, I have intuitively known what was right for me, even if I didn’t know why.  I haven’t always been right, but I have often been right.  And when I can stop and tell myself that, it gets a little easier to believe.  Yesterday Amy told me that challenging worries isn’t about saying “I know I can do this” because that isn’t a fact – no one knows what will happen in the future.  Instead she said we have to throw facts at worry: “I have done things like this before and been successful.”  Last night I did something approximating meditating.  Would an expert call it meditating?  I have no idea.  But I can now tell myself I did something that is a step towards meditation.  And that’s a start.  A start towards confidence, and a start towards finding what meditation means to me and for me.

So, with my strong belief in the power of music, I’m going to start by making a playlist I’m going to name “Calm”.  It will have some Mumford & Sons (especially “After the Storm”, listen if you haven’t!), Regina Spektor’s “On the Radio”, Iron & Wine’s “Passing Afternoon”, and who knows what else (I’m hereby taking suggestions from you!).  And I’m going to trust myself to know what I need.  Maybe someday I’ll “meditate” or maybe I won’t.  But as long as I find what works for me, I’ll be happy.

If you need a companion on your journey to find what works for you, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando at 407-355-7378.  Our experienced counselors, psychologists, and life coaches are here to guide you and give you the support you need.