"That's not how you're supposed to meditate."⠀
An ex-boyfriend once said that to me. ⠀ I’d mentioned I was going to stay in bed to meditate a while before getting up--to make up for missing my session the day before.
"But you're not supposed to meditate lying down." he insisted.
He'd learned a particular tradition at a meditation center. He thought you had to sit a certain way, with your eyes open and looking in a particular direction, for a very specific amount of time...or it didn't "count" as meditation, I guess?⠀
To be clear, there's nothing at all wrong with the way he'd learned to meditate. It’s a very established and traditional technique at a popular and respected Buddhist meditation center. I’d studied there too. I loved it! But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way—or the “right” way.
So, is there a “right” way to meditate? Is there a particular way that’s best?
The best meditation technique is the technique that works best for you.
If someone has told you that their way is one "right" or “best” way to meditate, they're wrong. Sure, keep an open mind and try it out—maybe it'll turn out to be amazing for you! But remember: you are the leading expert on you. You are the ultimate authority on what works for you.
I’ve studied numerous styles and techniques at temples, monasteries, and meditation centers.
I’ve learned others in classes, meetings, and seminars about mindfulness, Christian mysticism, Wicca, psychic development, mediumship, reiki, soul retrieval, and many more. I’ve also learned some great meditation techniques from books, recorded lectures, and phone apps.
There's a meditation style out there for everyone!
But What if you just can’t meditate? Like, what if you’re just really bad at it?
A lot of people tell me they can't meditate. They tried. Can't do it.
Most of the time, they tried it for a very short time, in one particular way. They were uncomfortable, time crawled, and their mind stayed busy the whole time. So, they figured they’re bad at meditating.
But really, a "good meditator" is just someone who actually meditates.
They show up for it regularly and they do it--whether or not they’re feeling inspired to do so. Whether or not they think they have the time for it.
They may occasionally experience an altered state, revelation, or epiphany. But often, they simply show up, set their timer, and go through the motions—sometimes with an uncomfortable body and a restless mind. But over time—if they keep showing up—they learn to enter a deeply relaxed state and the benefits are substantial.
Meditation can reliably decrease anxiety, stress, and confusion—along with associated physical symptoms. Over time you'll start to feel calmer and gain more clarity about your thoughts and feelings, as well as the world around you.
And you won't just experience these benefits while you're in meditation. They'll start showing up all day, all night, in many ways. And they'll increase over time.
No, you don't have to wake up at 5am and sit in the lotus position for an hour every morning! 20 mins is good. But if you're not meditating at all right now, even starting with just five minutes is great! Find a style you like and build on it. The when, how, where, and for how long, is up to you. Just do it.
Every style and technique has taught me something. And the meditation style I can't stand is someone else’s favorite. It’s very personal; you have to find what works for you. You could try mindfulness, chakra balancing, or metta. You could just focus on your breathing or lie down and feel the Earth beneath you as it grounds and balances your energy.
Many of my best meditation sessions consisted of floating on my back in the ocean, just off Playa de los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta--feeling the swells, being in the moment, and clearing my mind (ok, I might have had some fleeting worries about crocodiles while I was out there, but other than that is was perfect!).
If you want something more structured, there are almost endless choices out there. To list just a few, you could study--online or in person--at a center like Ananda or Shambhala; or from teachers like Jack Kornfield, Tara Branch, or Pema Chodron, and learn particular styles. You can also find a vast array of guided meditations (of varying quality) at Insight Timer.
Or Try a Body Scan Meditation
A simple body scan meditation can be a great way to get started too. It calms the mind while decreasing tension and anxiety. It's also very grounding--which is great for Empaths--and helps you make friends with your body.
Lying or sitting however you feel most comfortable, take a few deep breaths at your own pace. Try to leave the outside world outside, along with your thoughts and worries, and just feel your weight on the floor beneath you.
Now, continuing to breathe, start checking in with your body, feeling for tension or any other sensation. Start with your feet and work your way up--lower legs, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, lower back, etc.--till you reach the top of your head.
Try to really BE in each part of your body while you're checking in with it. How is it feeling? Can you let go of any tension? How about your shoulders or jaw? Continue to breathe deeply throughout the meditation, imagining your tension, thoughts, and worries drifting away with each exhale...
(Next week I'm releasing my brand new 10 minute guided Body Scan Meditation right here on my blog page. Check back on Monday or subscribe to have it sent to your inbox. Or if you don't want to wait, contact me and I'll send you the link as soon as it's ready)
Try some mindful action!
It's highly recommended to find some some time to meditate in stillness, while seated or laying down. But even if you can only do a little at a time right now, you can add to your benefits by practicing maintaining a mindful state throughout the day.
Try it while you're doing the dishes, prepping a meal, folding clothes, vacuuming, eating, etc. Any activity that doesn’t require a lot of thought can be turned into a meditation by focusing your mind on just being there, in that moment, doing that action.
When thoughts and worries about other things crop up, guide yourself gently back to the present moment. To the task at hand.
Just be there, in that moment, in that mindful action.
⠀ I'm a little hyper and have tons of energy, so my favorite mindful action is walking in the woods. I turn off my podcast or audio book and try to just be there in that moment. I focus on the colors around me, the sounds of the birds, feeling the Earth beneath my feet, and breathing in the fresh, pine-scented air.
Some great examples of mindful action meditators are gardeners, tending weeds; lone rowers in the harbor; or surfers, sitting in silence for hours, watching for the next wave.
But what if you just can’t stop thinking?!?
Thoughts will come. And THAT'S OK!
Don’t get frustrated with yourself for thinking. It’s normal. It’s just what happens to busy, human minds. But slowing down that busyness just a little, on a regular basis, brings big benefits.
Whether you're in seated meditation or taking a mindful moment in action, thoughts will come. That's normal and happens to everyone--even the really "good" meditators.
Let your thoughts come and go. Try to observe those thoughts instead of getting attached or emotional in response to them. Just for now. Imagine that your mind is a blue sky. Observe your thoughts as they drift by, like little puffy, white clouds.✪
If you'd like help finding your favorite style of meditation, get in touch and I can help you find some options that might work for you. Or try my brand new 10 minute guided body scan meditation, coming out next week. Check my blog page for the link or subscribe to have it sent to your inbox.
My mission is to help each highly sensitive and empathic person wake up to their power, brilliance, and authentic path. Meditation and Mindfulness can help a lot! This is especially true for Empaths. Please get in touch if you want help working these into your life, or if you have any questions, stories, or want to schedule a one-on-one session to explore your soul's purpose.
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