Meditation is something I’ve attempted to do at many different points in my life. The idea of spending a peaceful moment inside my own mind has always had great appeal, considering most days my thoughts tend to be more chaotic than the streets of New York City. My brain races at a thousand miles per hour at most points throughout the day sorting out puzzles and analyzing every entity of it’s being as well as everyone else’s beings. So the idea of quiet time in my brain, well let’s just say, sounds like a beach vacation.
Through my many experiences with meditation the one thing I typically lack is the discipline. Forcing myself to get into a habit of sitting peacefully seems like it should be an easy feat, but I am always overcome with a greater desire to sleep longer, start my day, or get busy. Other times I sit down for meditation and simply can’t shut it off, which in turn leaves me feeling as if there is no point at all, so I give up. What I’ve been learning more recently is that the lack of ability to turn my brain off during meditation is all the more reason to meditate. Recognizing that my thoughts have more control over me than I have over them has given me even more desire to train my mind and get to a place where it can be quiet. I haven’t yet gotten to a point where I do it daily, or where it’s perfectly quiet all the time, but my motive has changed and has made the desire to do it exceedingly greater.
I want to be in control of myself. Of my thoughts. My mind. And in turn my actions. If I can get total control over those things then I could do anything! That’s how it feels anyway. Think of how relationships would change if I had complete control over what things to speak or not speak, if I understood myself well enough to know what my emotions and thoughts towards people actually mean, or get this, if I had control over my thoughts and feelings well enough to give love freely. I’m not talking romantic love, but the powerful kind of love. The love for other human beings, simply for existing. The kind of love that changes lives. The sacrificial love that speaks life into others. If I could get control over my thoughts there would be less fear, less anxiety, less stress or worry over giving too much, or not having the time or the right kind of love. I wouldn’t worry about if I could give enough love, or a perfect example of it. The expectation for myself would turn from guarding my own heart out of fear of hurt and judgement, and instead I would have enough faith in my own mind to know that I am in control of how that hurt or judgement impacts me. When you can control your thoughts the pain still exists, but the effect that pain has on your life looks much different. You now have the ability to acknowledge the pain, see it for what it is, and then move on. You have freedom from it. Imagine the peace that would reside there.
This is why I have chosen to meditate. To have control over my thoughts, and to learn to love freely.
I have used several different resources to help me meditate over the years but here are a few of my favorites:
Headspace: This is my meditation lifesaver right now. You start with ten 10 min meditations, ideally one per day ten days in a row. After that you move on to ten 15 min, then ten 20 min, growing and training your mind. Eventually you get to a point of being able to choose your meditations freely according to how much time you have, or what you need to hone in on. Andy is a quirky, fun, light hearted man who will be your trainer in the Headspace journey. He uses animations and mental imaging to help you understand your mind and the way it works. His voice is calming and insightful, yet keeps you engaged instead of putting you to sleep. I HIGHLY recommend this to any meditation beginners. Of anything I have tried this is the best at teaching you how to meditate and engaging you well enough to keep you encouraged to actually do it. Quick, easy, and super comprehensible.
Stop, Breathe, Think: I used to use this app before I found Headspace and I do love it. It has great meditations that are quick and simple (3 to 10 min) so you can squeeze them into any part of your day. You start these meditations by focusing on how you’re feeling for the day and then you are given the meditations that will best suite your mood and physical state. Although I really enjoy this program I had a little harder time focusing because I hadn’t quite learned how to meditate yet, which is where Headspace came in for the win. This has been great now that I have a little more knowledge on what I’m actually doing.
Oprah and Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge: About two or three times a year Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra do a free 21 day challenge that is focused on growing a piece of your spirit. They use the concept of the Power of Attraction as well as using your own personal vibrations of energy to create wellness in your life. I LOVE these challenges. They are definitely more spiritual driven but can be used no matter what religion or belief system you are in. They offer incredible words of wisdom and use mantras to create soothing vibrations in your mind. These mantras help you to focus but can also be used as a prayer if thats more your cup of tea. I enjoy looking up the meaning behind each mantra so that I can fully understand what information I’m putting into my mind and spirit, and am never disappointed in how these Sanskrit mantras can fit into my prayers if I choose to use them that way. This challenge is definitely more intermediate but i would encourage anyone who is looking to use mediation for a mind AND spiritual encounter to check this out. There is a new one beginning on November 3.
Let me know if you decide to check out any of these things, and how they are working for you! I am no meditation master but would love to answer any questions you may have or give you more personal insight on my meditation journey and experiences.