• Body & Bliss by Karen

What is meditation really (without all the hippie-yoga-speak)?

What is meditation really (without all the hippie-yoga-speak)?

Feb 24/20 1004p

What does it even mean to meditate? It sounds so… ethereal? Hippie-ish? Eccentric? Ridiculous? Heavy? “Out-there”? If any of those definitions sound like what you think of it, today I’m going to tell you my version of what meditation IS, and is NOT, in everyday-people language, and maybe it will make more sense for you too.

Just realizing how much I am annoyed with today; how frustrated and upset and pissed off I am and realizing that although a lot of things were legitimately emotional or frustrating for me today, my level of emotion attached to it is a byproduct of not taking better care of myself today. I did not exercise, I did not eat often or enough, did not eat as well as I planned to (and even shopped for). While in the shower tonight I just realized that I have let go of my meditation practice recently, and that’s not good.

Lately I have been in a good routine where I was coming home from work at the studio in the early evening, having a shower and sitting still to meditate before making dinner or opening my laptop or watching tv. However, my routine has gone out the window over the last couple of weeks… a lot of career chaos, totally different routine, apartment hunting… and I need to recommit to sitting in meditation every evening again to get the calm and clarity I was having when I was doing it regularly.

So I have a confession: I don’t think teaching meditation is my best skill. In fact the first time I tried a ‘meditation class’ I went with two friends and within the first 15 minutes myself and one of the girls ditched the class and went for martinis. (There’s a theme: what you resist persists. I also did not like my first yoga class AT ALL.) And yet, in the past week, at least 3 students have asked me to organize more meditation classes because they like my teaching on this. Ok, Universe, I’m listening…

So here’s how it played out when I prepared to meditate tonite after the shower: go to the comfy chair in the corner of my bedroom where I usually sit for meditation; pick up the silk pillow with an embroidered mandala on it so I can rest my hands on it. I have realized that for me (a Vatta in Ayurvedic types), I feel best when my hands are palm-down and have a sensation of touching something textural, in this case it's the raised embroidery of the mandala to feel a physical connection of my hands on something. Move Baxter-dog’s stuffed dinosaur toy that resides on this chair into the corner (hence, the weird stuffed-toy eyeball in the pic). Set my watch timer for 10 minutes. Some days it goes by in a blink, some days it seems like 30 minutes of slow-moving time.

What exactly happens during meditation? How do I know if I’m “doing it right”?

Meditation is NOT the process of checking out or turning your mind off. Our minds never ‘stop’ thinking! It’s the opposite; it is sitting still long enough to pay attention to where your mind is instead of numbing it out or tuning it out or running from it with other distractions. It is listening to what is going on in there today, listening to the things you’re telling yourself all day. The shitty things you’re saying to yourself or the disempowering things or the I’m too busy things - and what's the result of that today.It is understanding how much weight or power I have given them.

It is the practice of sitting still with no goal to the output. It is actively noticing the mantras I have been repeating today in my busy mind: about how I’m sad about the heartbreak from my last love, or how many things I have to do and not enough time, or I’m behind on things I said I was going to do, or how I'm frustrated with things that I’m trying to figure out and can’t figure out.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that you don’t get to Bliss by pretending you’re happy, you get to Bliss by acknowledging that sometimes things are not the way you want them to be. Bliss is not the absence of struggle or pain or confusion or hurt or fear or sadness; it's diving deep into it and doing the work to finding your way to the other side. It’s like being stuck at the entrance of a bridge with a toll gate down. The toll gate won’t let you onto the bridge to pass until you pay the price, until you acknowledge that there is a gate in your way that needs to be attended to before you can continue.

Meditate. Commit to this for yourself, even if you start with just a 5 minute timer. Give your body adequate room to sit comfortably, adjust any clothing or posture that is distracting, maybe light a candle you can focus your eyes on to help you withdraw from other visual distractions if you like your eyes open. BREATHE. That’s all. Just breathe, deeply inhaling (full expansion, without holding in your abs) and completely exhaling (without force, but easily letting the lungs get empty). Do it for 21 days, no skipping. If there are days when your five minute timer goes off but you’re not ready to leave ‘the zen state’ then stay longer before you wrap it up. If you are already peeking at the time after your first 2 minutes, stay there and hang in until your first five minutes is up. And just LISTEN. That’s all your task is here; just LISTEN. You may be surprised what your inner voice has been saying all day that has shaped your experience of your day for the better or the worse.

This is meditation. Listening, building awareness of your own thought processes, without any expectations or assessments of what you’re becoming aware of it. THIS is where you will start to find clarity, calm, maybe a subtle smile on your lips when you’re done.




©2020 by Body & Bliss by Karen