Meditation: Calm, How to Meditate: Roller Coaster Length: 13 minutes Where: Meditation Cushion in my Bedroom, Los Angeles How It Felt: Creaky but Wonderful
Sneaking in my meditation before our day gets going here. I returned to the “How to Meditate” series, ready to get back to Jeff Warren’s awesome wisdom and instruction. Keep it simple. Simply press “next.”
Today’s session focused on the idea that sometimes meditating is hard, sometimes it’s easy, and often it is on the spectrum somewhere in between, but it’s always a positive experience overall. Jeff compared it to working out- some days we have a ton of energy and could go forever, some days we just want to quit before we even begin, but it all contributes to positive physical health benefits.
(Unless you are overdoing it or injuring yourself stubbornly, which is obviously its own specific issue.)
I like this idea- it really speaks to me. I’m a huge proponent of saying “no” to whatever you need to in order to protect your mental health. That comes first. If I can’t be social today, if I can’t complete my to do list, if I can’t even get out of bed, I listen to my mind and body first. If that’s what I need today, that’s what I do.
However, I have yet to find one negative benefit to meditating. Meaning, there are very few activities I could truly commit to doing every day with perhaps this one exception. It never makes my depression or mania worse. It isn’t an activity that “pushes” me too hard when I really need to stop. I can lie in bed and listen to someone’s voice and breathe, or even cry if I wanted, and I’m still meditating.
At the end of this session, he actually spoke to this, saying that even when we don’t feel we are “doing” anything or doing it “well,” meditation is still working. It’s getting down into those parts we can’t necessarily reach on our own, it’s cooling the brain, it’s working things out inside us. Kind of like Shavasana in yoga- it may feel like you’re “just” lying there, but your body and nervous system are working on your behalf, incorporating all you just did.
Therefore, meditation is safe for all times. It’s so easy, it doesn’t even require an app or guide. I could just set a timer for three minutes and breathe. It’s something that, as long as we keep showing up, will continue having positive benefits whether we notice them right away or not. We are cultivating “warrior perseverance and patience” every time we meditate. Bit by bit.
Jeff also reminds us that our experience during meditation is not necessarily the right place to look for “results” from our practice, but rather our life outside of it. Even when I’m not meditating perfectly, I’m feeling the benefits of increased peace, calm, confidence, patience, empathy, and love in my day to day life.
Lesson? Don’t be so hard on ourselves. Don’t beat ourselves up because we aren’t doing something exactly the way we think we should be doing it. Celebrate doing the thing at all, and definitely celebrate doing it over and over. Celebrate being “bad” at something while we practice getting “better.” Change our definitions of what that even means.
And always look at the big picture, the small changes, the moments that matter to us. Don’t stay focused on immediate results. Society teaches us we need things to brag about on social media for them to be valuable. But what’s more valuable than cultivating our best, happiest lives and our most loving, kind, confident selves?
Ride the highs and lows and stay focused on the journey. It’s just life, after all. If we take it to seriously, it slips through our fingers before we know it.