I am not a runner. If somebody told me today that if I ran 10 miles, my life would dramatically improve, they may be right, but there’s no way I’m doing it. Now, if they said to run for 10 minutes, that I could get on board with. I feel this way about meditation.
I always loved the idea of it. I’ve read enough testimonials of its life-changing capacity; I understand the science of why it’s so good for you; but I could barely shut my brain off when I was exhausted at 2 a.m., never mind in the middle of the day. Strange to think that sitting in silence is so intimidating, but if you’re in that place, I understand and I’ve been there. Now sitting in meditation is not only a requirement for me but part of the message I’ve made it my mission to share with the world.
You could find hundreds of explanations and definitions explaining what meditation is and why you should do it. I recommend looking into these and listening with an open mind and heart. The only explanation I can speak fully to is mine, so here it goes: I believe that meditation is the vehicle you use to meet your authentic self.
In our world today, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli—beliefs, opinions, judgments, facts, noises, hysteria, decisions, options. Our world has become small and our culture values conformity, and thus it is hard to distinguish who we are at our core versus what we have learned and picked up from being tossed around the rat wheel.
People are reporting feelings of unhappiness, loneliness, depression, and anxiety at a higher rate than ever in human history. While there are many things we can attribute to this, I believe at the core is that nobody knows themselves. Think about it: How can you win a game if you do not know the goal? To be happy, you have to have your circumstances line up with what you believe will make you happy. If you do not truly know yourself, how can you know what makes you happy? The answer is that you cannot.
What so often happens is that we have taken in all of our societal programming, we thought we knew what would make us happy, and then it turns out that we didn’t. Why? Because that was never really you. Behind the layers of everything we picked up about who and what we are supposed to be is our soul. Your soul is the true, authentic you. In order to meet it, you must be able to tune everything else out. How do you do that? Meditate.
If sitting still, crossed legged, back upright, in silence seems impossible, I hear you, and I have good news! You do not have to do that. In my definition of meditating, basically all you are doing is tuning the world out in order to meet your true, authentic soul. When I first started, there were two major things that helped me.
First, you do not have to sit up straight, crossed legged. As someone who has struggled with chronic pain, that position was honestly just plain uncomfortable for me. Lying down flat on the floor, or even on a bed if you won’t fall asleep, allowed me to feel comfortable and enter a deeper relaxation. My other favorite technique was walking. I think that when you’re new to meditation, it is common for an influx of thoughts to hit you the moment you stop. With my body in motion, I found I was able to focus on the sensations of the breath and body and tune into myself easier than sitting still.
These are two options that were huge for me in the beginning of my meditation practice, and ones that I still use to this day. My point is to focus less on the positioning of the body. The whole idea here is to tune into you. That means that you can make the decision. What would make you comfortable? What would allow you the best opportunity to tune out the noise and into your soul? If that means sitting, walking, running, jumping up and down, lying down, dancing, or doing yoga, go for it.
The second tip I want you to know is that, at first, silence is intimidating. Our world today does not do silence. You can ease yourself in. There are so many great guided meditations available for free on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and all over the web. Honestly, for me personally, it was a long time before I was able to meditate without guidance.
I recommend you shop around. You’ll find there are voices and topics that you like more than others. The best way to begin is to begin. They are available at all different lengths. Type “10-minute guided meditation” into your browser of choice and pick one that jumps out at you. You’ll learn quickly what works for you and what doesn’t and the more you do it, the more you’ll know.
The other option for listening is music. Some meditation teachers suggest listening to any music that helps you to relax and zone out. I am a music freak, so I found that I cannot listen to the songs I would otherwise listen to (or even songs with words, really) because I will become more focused on the song than my intention. I recommend listening to instrumental meditation music. Again, the options are infinite—search for a playlist, press play, and go from there.
I have lived out of alignment and I have lived in alignment. I now understand on a deep level what all the hubbub is around meditation. I believe that our world is a vast, majestic, magical place. I also believe that most of us are missing it. Our society has shut down our access to our authentic self and most of us are just pushing through, doing what we think we’re supposed to do to get by. It saddens me that I meet few people who feel totally in alignment with their authentic soul and purpose—in fact, most people look at me like I’m crazy when I ask (which I do).
They are playing a game and they don’t know the rules, so how can they win? When you learn how to tap into your soul, to find out who you really are, you learn the rules, because the only rules you need to live by in order to be happy are your rules.
Meditation is your tool to learn how to play your game by your rules. Don’t get discouraged by the how—the number of breaths, how to breathe, the position, the silence. Do what feels good for you. As long as the intention is to tune into your authentic self, you are meditating and on your way to happiness, alignment, fulfillment, and winning the game.