I love the idea of meditating. I’ve experimented with it through the years. But it’s never been a practice that held any substance or continuity for me.
Back in my college days, I was surrounded by a community of people who encouraged each other to have a daily “quiet time” where you were supposed to read the Bible and the go to the Lord in prayer about the verses that spoke to you or with what was “on your heart”.
I could easily spend hours reading and studying scripture, but when it came to prayer…well, my thoughts always ran crazy. I got stuck in my thoughts and worries, my requests always sounded so winey, and the list of things that I was thankful was a short and stale list of things that felt trivial.
My quiet times often consisted of pondering the deep meaning of an Amy Grant song or another gospel hit at the time. I rarely thought I was tuning in or connecting with God.
Since those days decades ago, my prayer life has evolved through “being in the zone”, journaling, purposeful mindfulness, gratitude journals, and zen walks into meditation.
Here are two of my children “meditating”. Luka is holding his phone listening to a guided meditation. Aubrey, who just got home from dance class, decided to join him in the middle of enjoying a bowl of ice cream.
I’ve been practicing meditation for several years now. I can point to its beginning when I was trying to get to sleep—fast, so that I could get the maximum zzs without “wasting” the time just lying in bed worrying or waiting. This meditation was a breath meditation where I would calm my body muscle by muscle, from head to toe then when all was checked and calmed, I would begin counting my breaths. While counting backward from 100. If my mind was especially active, I would focus on a circle that I would trace around and around as I breathed and counted. Often, I am asleep in the 90s. When I notice that my numbers are getting mixed up, or I’m counting the 70s again, “no worries” I tell myself. Just keep counting.
My current practice is the sitting kind. I get my cell phone, I sit on the floor or in a chair, place my hands, palms up, on my thighs as I close my eyes, roll my shoulders back, get my butt comfy and take a couple of deepish breaths…letting them out slowly. This little ritual tells my mind to get ready. Then I focus my attention on a spot (like my forehead) and breathe in and out. Repeat.
When my phone chimes, I roll my shoulders a few times, wiggle my fingers and toes and slowly open my eyes. I usually have a sense of calm, grounding and peacefulness. It’s as if the butterflies within my mind, although still there, are not so frenetic, not so chaotic. I feel an alignment and more of a focus.
I think the hardest part of meditation is just the showing up part. I want to daily make choices that serve the person I am, the person I am becoming, the person I want to become.
I don’t have a problem with jammin’ “El Shaddai” or “Krishna Das” as I go through my day, but first I will just sit. breathe. be.