I have not always been able to meditate in stillness and I used to get around it by doing walking meditations and mandalas. I grew up in the standard American way of ‘go-go-go’ and ‘do-do-do’ with little emphasis on simply ‘being’. I had years of dedicated yoga practice behind me before I finally embarked on a partnering mediation practice in the traditional sense.
My first attempts at this kind of meditation were less-than-awesome. I was unable to sit still and it seemed impossible to quiet the incessant mind-chatter. It bothered me that something as simple as sitting could be so difficult. There were days that I made an excuse not to do it, and other days that I was totally disconnected just waiting for the bell to ring so I could be done with it and move on. I mean, it was hard. I had the idea that I was wasting my time by just sitting there, and it was a good many months of “just sitting there” before I found the contentment in it that people talked about.
My point is that meditation was not something I had an instant love affair with. I had to work at it, more than I really wanted to at first, in order to eventually embrace my personal practice. Fortunately, there were a few small things that helped me to stay committed and open-minded about the journey long enough for it to become an integral part of my life. If you are contemplating adopting a meditation practice or want to deepen the one you already have, I would absolutely encourage you to use any of these ideas.
1. Mala Beads
These are long strands of roughly 7-10mm beads. The number of beads varies depending on which culture they’re coming from, but the Hindu/Buddhist tradition is 108 or 27 beads. They are meant to be held in the hands and used to count the number of breaths or repetitions of a chant, and other similar things. Mala beads help with the restless feeling of needing to be “doing” something. In this case, the “doing” is moving the beads through your fingers, and it can help a great deal to calm the nervous fidgeting that we are so often prone to. You can find these at many online retailers and specialty shops, or just make your own.
2. Guided Meditations
I doubt that I need to elaborate on this one, but I will save you the Google search just in case. I suggest looking for guided meditations by Burt Goldman, Deepak Chopra, Kelly Howell, Doreen Virtue, and others that you can find very easily, often for little to no cost. Most of the lifestyle and/or meditation gurus out there have free downloads on their websites and Facebook pages. Local libraries usually have a decent selection of CDs to borrow and you surely can’t beat Amazon and similar sites for instant downloadable mp3s.
3. Meditative or Relaxing Music
There are dozens of great options out there so this is purely personal preference. What types of melodies are most soothing to you? Do you enjoy nature sounds blended with instrumentals? Ambient, soft drumming, or digital mixes of some sort? Its totally up to you, but a few that I recommend are Enya, OmLife (OmHarmonics), David Arkenstone, Lifescapes, and similar. Like I said, this is all a matter of what speaks to your heart. Simply play them as background music during meditation practice and let them drift you away.
4. Bum Cushion
The main function here is comfort and alignment. Its just plain easier to sit still and engage in a joyful meditation practice when you’re comfy-cozy. I don’t have anything special, just a somewhat firm sleeping pillow, but its perfect for me. I sit with the back of my butt on the pillow, allowing my legs/knees to rest and fall forward, and keeping my spine in proper alignment. It cushions the tailbone too, which I know can be painful for some people. Experiment with whatever you have around the house and you’ll quickly find a favorite. Also, if you get chilled easily, use a wrap or blanket around your shoulders to stay nice and warm.
5. Asana Practice Right Before
Yoga asanas help prepare the body for meditation. The various postures (and sequences of) are designed to lengthen, open, stretch, empower, warm, and relax the body. All of these things set the physical stage for an uninterrupted practice. Spending 20-30 minutes practicing asana before sitting down to meditate relieves tension in the body allowing for more comfort while being still.
6. Do It Your Own Way
There is no rule that says you have to sit with crossed legs and a perfectly straight back in order to meditate. If that position isn’t good for you, then do something else. Lay in savasana, prop yourself up in bed, sit in a recliner if you want, whatever – it truly doesn’t matter. Set yourself up in a way that is most enjoyable for you so that you can look forward to your practice and not view it as a chore. Meditation has nothing to do with the position you do it in. Its about the clarity, mindfulness, peace, and eventual self-mastery that comes from a committed practice.
It may take work to develop meditation into something you love, but its absolutely worth every effort because each practice will bring you closer to one’ness and peace.