• How I Opened the Doors to Meditation

    by Victoria Paige 

    Fact: only about 5% of the thoughts we have in a day are original – the rest are the same old stories, criticisms, plans, complaints, schedules, worries.. you get the picture. This constant stream of over-thinking, projecting and dwelling on every single thing is exhausting.

    Luckily, your thoughts don’t always have to be in the driver’s seat and meditation is a practice that can help ‘soften’ the mind. Like many, I had heard about meditation, knew that it was good for me but I just didn’t know where to start or what to do. So when I started my yoga teacher training, I was especially looking forward to the meditation lectures so I could learn about ALL the different meditation techniques and tools and precisely how to do it.

    What I received over that 4 hour lecture was not what I expected, yet I was pleasantly surprised by the philosophy that Matt (the lecturer) had about meditation and techniques.

    The most important thing Matt wanted to share with us is that meditation is not a cross-legged Buddha taking gyan mudra. Meditation can be done anywhere, at any time, eyes closed or open, standing or sitting, thinking or not thinking. Say what?!

    Matt explained that meditation does not happen only when sitting still with your eyes closed. Meditation is the experience you have while meditating. It is about moving from doing into being, from experiencing the moment you are in, no matter what that moment is presenting you with. If you have thoughts racing through your mind, that is okay, the practice is to not engage in them and not judge yourself afterwards if you did.

    When I first tried out meditation (pre-Matt) my main goal was ‘do not think’, ‘do not think’, ‘do not think.’ And what did I do basically the entire time? Think. And I judged myself for being a bad meditator. What I didn’t know then is that the mind will always have thoughts – it is hardwired to keep busy. And no doubt, this is exacerbated by our multi-tasking, digitally addicted society where telling someone to sit still and ‘not think’ for 20 minutes sounds like a death sentence.

    That’s why Matt believes that meditation should be viewed as something that can be done anywhere, providing us time during the day to check in, reset and prevent an overload of stress hormones from building up.

    When you look at the principles of meditation, they are very simple: pay attention to the present moment by fully engaging the senses, and when thoughts arise simply notice them without getting drawn into a conversation. Note: nothing in here alludes to the fact that thoughts will not be present. They will always be there! Meditation can just help you to observe, instead of engage with them.

    So really, any opportunity can be made into a meditation. Let’s take having a cup of coffee for example. Next time you have your cuppa’, see if you can notice the smell of your coffee, the feel of the warm cup in your hands, the taste and texture in your mouth. Throughout it all, notice when your mind goes wandering into the rabbit hole of thoughts and gently remind it to refocus on the simple, yet rich sensory experience of the moment.

    Meditation is all about creating the opportunity to connect with yourself and your present moment through enjoying the senses instead of being carried away by your thoughts. Some people feel like they can only experience that shift from doing (or thinking) into being while participating in an activity like running or even gardening. Meditation can also be in those 30 seconds while sitting at a red light or while watching the ocean waves roll in, if you harbor the intention to take those moments for yourself.

    The point is meditation is not this big scary thing that only monks do in caves. It can be done in any form and at any time, and the best part is you can explore the exact activities that suit your lifestyle the best. If that looks like yawning, fidgeting, moving or opening your eyes - that’s all totally acceptable. Find something that works for you, and start your meditation journey.