Ever tried meditation and the been like, “I'm terrible at this, time to go do something else?” I have done this countless times, although my thought often is not I'm terrible at it, rather I simply think of something I’d rather be doing or think that I, ‘can’t do this right now,” or, ‘wonder if I got a new email,” or any of a hundred other thoughts. Or maybe you have the belief that you cannot meditate, that you have ADD so you cannot focus.
There are countless messages that we give ourselves, both directly like that first one, and indirectly like just going and doing something else.
The problem with all of those things is that they simply aren’t completely true, and we treat them as if they are. There is definitely some truth in all of those statements, and they are all misleading.
If the thought, “I'm terrible at this,” grabs me, then likely I experience some sadness or disappointment or shame and that makes me run away from paying attention to the moment. So, I don’t like what I’m about to feel and I run somewhere else to distract. Maybe it’s to your phone, or to Netflix, or to thinking about suicide, or to urges to go do something you know is harmful, or at least not helpful.
The problem with all of that is that we are robbing ourselves of what the moment has to offer. In my experience each moment has something to offer us that we often do not participate in. That’s normal and very natural in our modern society.
It also means that we often do not experience the joy and peace that are there for us on the other side of the uncomfortable experiences. Let me say that again. There is something in this moment for you, even if you believe your life is really awful right now (or maybe you've thought that your life is and has been awful for a very long time.)
I work with a number of clients who have some pretty horrific histories of abuse and tremendous difficulties in regulating emotions. The thing is, even with those histories, they begin to experience something different, something better. Often this starts in session with me inviting them to experience the moment. Sometimes, it's fighting the process of getting present to begin with, sometimes it's embraced right away. Most of the time, it's difficult to get started. Most of the time, they experience something in the session that they really like. It's almost like they glimpse another world or another way of living.
We can do anything mindfully. Paying full attention to the moment. Research on mindfulness indicates that people who practice meditation also have more skill at being able to pay attention to their daily lives. There are many benefits to mindful meditation, and it's something that you can become better at with practice. It does take practice.
And here’s the thing about mindful meditation, if you attempt it you are successful. Any attempt to put your attention on meditation is success.
It's Something you can feel good about now matter how long you practice at any given time. Often, I will ask a client to pay attention to their breath for 30 seconds to begin with. A colleague of mine starts their clients at 10 seconds. The point really isn’t how long you do it, the point is to do it.
So, here's the challenge, meditate for 30 seconds or longer if you would like.
Follow these steps:
Find a position you can hold for a bit. Typically, meditation is done in a cross legged position on a cushion or pillow. You can, however, also sit in a chair or lie down.
Begin with bringing your attention to your breath. Notice the air coming in to your nose, down your throat. Notice your belly begin to expand and notice your lungs filling with air.
Then notice your exhale. Notice your lungs be
gin to deflate and your belly falling. Notice the sensation of the air going out of your nose or mouth.
Count 1. (You can also count in as 1 and out as 2 if you prefer.)
Do that again.
When your mind drifts (and it will, often many times) simply notice, "my mind drifted," and then bring your attention back to your breath.
I recommend that people set a timer for your desired amount of time so you don't have the urge to keep looking at the clock. That's it. Try to practice each day.