Not very long ago, I had an uncomfortable realization: I have absolutely no idea how to meditate. Or what it means to meditate. Or if I would even know if I was meditating.
It happened in yoga class. During a particularly difficult pose in my Bikram class, my instructor told us that, if we were having a hard time with the posture, we should meditate. And I had a kind of a record-scratch moment, because, for the first time, it occurred to me that I had exactly no concrete idea as to what that meant. I didn’t know what he was telling us to do. I couldn’t follow his instruction because I simply didn’t know how to meditate. And, at that moment, I decided to get it together and figure out exactly what meditation is.
Because there is part of me–the skeptical, scientifically-minded part–that believes that meditation just isn’t a thing. But there’s another part of me–the part that’s prone to anxiety attacks, stress, and a complete lack of ability to focus on a single task, ever–that thinks meditation sounds like a miraculous cure for my scattered, negative-attention-span-having brain. Running, working, falling asleep, long airplane rides, yoga class, tense moments of public transit all sound like they could be made more easy, pleasant, and insightful with meditation.
If I could just figure out what that means. And how to make my overly-active mind do it.
See, I’m a person who thrives on rules and confines. I like concrete instructions, I like time-frames, I like schedules and planning. Which is where I get hung up on meditation, because it seems to have none of these things. I’m just supposed to let my mind loose? Or think very deeply about something? Or envision something? I need more instruction than this. And I need it to be less about spirituality, and more about mental focus and clarity.
So in about a week, I’ll be going to an actual meditation class at a non-denominational center here in Seattle, where I will be forced to sit and meditate with a bunch of other beginners.
I’m also going to be on the hunt for some guided meditations, books, and other media on the subject. Which is where you readers come in. Do you have any favorite meditation resources that have helped you? Maybe a meditation podcast (is that a thing) or story or book or workshop that is less focused on the spiritual, and more on the actual brain?
Help me, readers. Send me your best meditation tips and resources. Meanwhile, well, I’ll be thinking on it. And, as always, I promise to keep you updated.
Image by Flickr user Nickolai Kashirin