Some people love the idea of sitting in one place and emptying their mind of all thought but for me, the task seemed daunting. How could I possibly not think of anything for twenty solid minutes?
For a while, I was going to throw in the towel on meditation but it’s getting easier. Like many disciplines, it is one which requires some serious patience with self. It also has many styles and methods and it takes time and a little research to figure out which works best. Because we all have such different restrictions and phobias, the process can be tedious. I’ve been at it for over two years and finally I’m settling into a bit of a routine. I have in no way mastered it yet. My mind still flutters about but I’m actually beginning to enjoy and look forward to it as well as finding it of some benefit.
Part of the issue is making it important enough to put in the routine and when you have a busy life and a busy home it’s not always simple. You need some quiet time away from distractions and a good set of headphones. I’m settling into a bit of a routine and have made it a priority.
I’m sure the great yogis could tell all sorts of great benefits but for me, the most notable advantage is the very slow learning to live “in the moment”. Some added benefit is new tools in my proverbial toolbox to deal with the anxiety which arises in me so easily. If I don’t get control of anxiety it begins to rule me and leads me down a path toward depression and dark places I no longer want to go.
When I first heard the phrase “In the moment” a few years ago while reading a book by Echart Tolle, he and the book took flight across the living room. I just could not grasp the concept and that made me so angry I threw the book. Now, a few authors, teachers and some different approaches later it is beginning to sink in.
Perhaps those of us who live with mood disorders have a little more trouble learning to live in the moment. Our minds are so busy racing backwards and forwards that most of “the time we miss “the moment” entirely. Hence the promotion of this concept in mental health treatment.
Now that I’m beginning to get it I see the benefit though I’m still a long way from mastering “the moment”. It is becoming easier to concentrate during a conversation. I used to walk away from an uncomfortable conversation feeling trampled on and often it took hours or even days or weeks to sort out why. Now I am better at being right there and working through the emotions and the logic during the meeting. Sensible responses are not quite as long in coming as they used to be.
While Oprah’s friend Tolle made no sense, similar teachings by Thích Nhất Hạnh seemed to hold my attention and appeal to my understanding. Thick Nha ‘t Hanh seems to speak my language. It is worth seeking out other teachers until you find the one who speaks to you.
It seems just meditating on my own is almost impossible, at least yet. I seem to require some sort of guided help and have found quite a few I will share below. The better teachers don’t allow you to get stuck in having to “clear your mind” but rather emphasise that when you drift off in thought to just bring it back, usually by using your breath as the focal point. They treat it like it is part of the normal process and since I found that way of teaching it I’m less likely to beat myself up and give up the whole thing.
Below is the list of guided meditations I have been using recently. If you are interested be sure to be kind to yourself. Start out with shorter meditations and work up the longer ones. Take note of the ones which work for you. Some will be better in different situations and times. Recently I’ve been trying meditations for sleep which is better than taking medication to make me sleep and they are working.
(If you have sites that you have found helpful please share in the comments in Word Press so anyone who reads this can have access to them.)
- The one that really got me going in the right direction was Nicholas Grabovac. He offered a free course along with a meditation done by his wife. The teaching was sound and the mediation easy to listen to and follow. His site offers many options. http://www.30daysofmindfulness.com/author/ngrabovac/ The meditations I use regularly from him is loaded on my iTunes but you have to take the 7 Day Introductory course. I’m not sure it is still available because his site is a bit out of date but if it is I recommend it. If not just take a look at this page and play the videos to get some of his teachings. http://www.30daysofmindfulness.com/learning-mindfulness-resources-beginners/
- Rick Clarke’s lovely English accent. Guided relaxation with ocean scene and sound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jyy0ra2WcQQ
- Deepak Chopra’s site has a good collection of various meditations. They are a bit dates and were posted in 2009 but just ignore the dates and explore meditations for different times and moods. http://www.chopra.com/ccl/guided-meditations
- Fragrant Heart has a great list of meditations for various occasions and offers quite a few shorter meditations which help with the learning process and can be used as rescue meditations when you need some help in a tough moment.
- Jack Canfield long meditation is excellent. It is more about motivation and getting your going and goes with his online course. Hopefully, you can access it but you might have to take the course.
- Like Fragrant Heart UCLA Guided meditations offers a good selection of meditations different occasions and in a wide variety of length.