Adults need quiet time, too.
Sitting in silence is pretty sweet.
It’s something I’ve learned to enjoy, although it has not come easy.
I think I have an advantage in at least sitting still, because we went to church every Sunday as a family, and not once do I remember being taken out to the cry room. The cry room, a.k.a. “the nursing room” or “mother’s room” was an insult. I felt that deeply, even as a tiny girl. Only babies went there. The Krumel kids did not go there to cry, fidget, or anything else. We sat quietly in the pew with our parents. In that way, I’m an expert at sitting still.
But how to make your mind still, that’s entirely another thing.
Catholic mass was the longest, most excruciating hour of the week. Sensory awareness was cultivated in church, though, so at least that part was interesting. Sitting straight up, kneeling on bare knees without letting your butt rest on the pew, playing with the metal hat hooks screwed into the wood of the pew without letting it snap back and make a huge sound in the silence. Counting hats, watching glass-stained light glow in candy colors over the white hair of the old folks seated up front. Listening to the acoustics play with the amplified voices inside the cavernous space, while not quite catching the words. Holding, studying, and playing with the hands of my mom or dad.
Religion serves young people by honing their ability to sit and find something to mentally entertain themselves, not to quiet the mind.
A (Catholic) religious background is no preparation for meditation because no one even mentions quieting your mind. So if you’re not engaged in the service, your mind is busy doing other strange gyrations. My thoughts were occupied mainly by playing word search games in the missalette (can I find the letters of my name somewhere within the area of my hand?), trying to read backwards, memorize prayers, and that sort of thing.
I did not dread church; I just had no idea what to do with my mind. Mind you, I’m talking about the years up to about age 12, which is long enough to establish a foundation. Teaching, catechism, sensory awareness, community, tradition, family time: Check.
Quiet mind: Nope.
The same thing happened when I first started meditating a couple of years ago.
What do you do with your thoughts?
Before I learned how to meditate… (OK, still learning.) Before practicing – I thought meditating was just sitting quietly, like in church, but without the verbal dogma.
I’d try praying, but usually end up hearing my thoughts burst out of the gate like a herd of wild horses. (My mind runs fast, y’all!) A “moment of silence” at the kids’ school was a too-short minute of head chatter with no satisfying conclusion. A minute was never long enough for me. Just when my mind started chewing on something good, someone would state that it was time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
I know this isn’t meditation, but it was a precursor to it.
I was in my mid 40s before meditation starting appealing to me as an interesting thing to do.
My roommate in college meditated. She would meditate while I went down to the shower room in the mornings. Once she tried to teach me how, explaining how you just repeat the sound “Nam-yo-ho-ren-gek-yo” which I liked to say, but I didn’t really get it. And I couldn’t sit still back then. Why would I sit still?
I think you really start meditating naturally, once you finally need to start meditating.
So I practice now. I know when I need to meditate because my head starts backing up. My mind gets in a funk with thoughts I know are not real. I become a stress case, and a little nasty in my head, to be honest. Without even looking, I find fault with myself and others. I start hearing sarcasm taint my conversation.
So I clear out the junk in my head with 15 minutes of meditation, sometimes to quiet music, and sometimes in silence.
These days a bit of silence is juicy beyond belief.
The first thing you need to do is carve out some quiet time for yourself.
You need somewhere to sit and you need time, about 5 or 10 minutes at first. This can be the most difficult thing about meditation. You’re busy and there’s always something you need to do. Your “free time” is bursting with time-sucking activities as mundane as making coffee, watering plants, and checking email. No one is going to hand you ten free minutes on a silver platter. You must steal this time for yourself.
If you don’t have 15 minutes to meditate, then you need 30 minutes to meditate. (I heard that somewhere.)
Next, you have to get yourself in the right state of mind. It starts with a couple of deep breaths and awareness of your environment at the moment. You may need someone to take you by the hand at first.
When I need some brain silence, but can’t seem to get there myself, I let the @headspace guy guide me there. This app is worth every penny, especially if you’re new to meditating. He gives you permission to think, and then “not-think,” which is pretty much my key to happiness some days! And, if you’re just getting started, there are animated videos to help you visualize what your mind should be trying to achieve (not achieve).
Find an app you enjoy. (Headspace gives you a free trial period, and you can stick with that if you like.) You should probably at least find the guide’s voice pleasant and soothing. I’m partial to my My Headspace guy with his Aussie accent. Soothing, yes! And he often says things which are Instagram worthy, like the image above. (By the way, I’m not an affiliate for Headspace or anything like that. I would be, though, since I love the product.)
Next, get a diffuser and a blend you like for meditating. Frankincense is my go-to, but other calming oils might do the trick for you. Peace and Calming® and Highest Potential™ come to mind.
Finally, find a nice comfy place to sit. I have a chair that works well and accommodates my short legs – I like my feet to rest on the floor. I tested a buckwheat hull “tuffet” at the Young Living convention this month, which I’ll be ordering soon. It forces you to sit upright, but allows your legs to comfortably rest cross-legged and downward. This position is actually very comfortable. You stay alert because you’re sitting straight up, but itdoesn’t trigger discomfort in your body at any pressure points.
There are so many words written about meditation these days, when all you really need to do is sit quietly and focus on your breath. Watch your thoughts drift in and out. Count your breaths if you like. That’s it.
Pretty simple. Are you ready to train your brain to chill? Meditation gets better with time, so if at first you’re not feeling it, give it a few more tries.
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