Meditation Works. That was the social media status of a dear friend of mine the other day. I replied, “I could have told you that”. But the truth is, everyone has to figure it out on their own. And meditation works differently for different people. But something keeps us going with it. What’s the secret?
I was never good at meditation. I started practicing yoga many years ago and meditation was so far off my radar that I barely knew it existed. But as my Kundalini Yoga practice deepened, I realized that meditation not only super-important, but it’s what yoga is all about. I now make sure I never miss a day of meditation, even if it means waking up earlier than I’d like or doing it in some strange places.
There are several things that keep me going, even in the face of boredom and the time constraints of a busy life. Some days I feel like I’m just going through the motions, and other days it speeds by so quickly that 31 minutes feels like a tenth of that. Knowing that a daily practice is key to those good days, I don’t give up. And regardless of whether I find that special stillness on a given day or not, I have come to a number of realizations from my practice.
First, I’ve learned that it’s possible to get into the “zone” and have a great ride. I love being able to watch what’s going on in my head and look at it objectively. I get brilliant thoughts when I’m meditating, but I don’t feel the need to attach to them. Really, if they’re that brilliant, they’ll come back when I’m done! So I let them go and re-focus. It feels great, it’s empowering, and I notice that I’m gaining control over my mind.
I’ve realized that it’s possible to sit through discomfort. Meditations are not all easy, but it’s worth the effort to keep up. If I notice that I’m uncomfortable—physically, mentally or emotionally—this means I’ve lost my focus. What’s great is that I’ve been able to translate that self-awareness to when I feel discomfort in my daily life. It will pass, I tell myself. I re-focus on what I’m doing, and with time, discomfort does lessen if not disappear.
I also now know that it’s possible to change your day with meditation. Sometimes I wake up tired, grumpy or distracted, but once I’ve sat for 31 minutes and meditated, that wake-up feeling is gone. Instead, I notice that I feel love for all of those around me and gratitude for being on this path. I then can hold onto this good mood for the rest of the day!
Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s not about perfection. I may fade in and out of my meditation, but even during my 31 minutes (or however long I’m sitting) if I can get 7 or even 3 great minutes, then it’s been worth it. As long as I do the best I can, there will be results. If I let my arms down for a moment, pause the chanting for a few breaths, or take a break from a pranayam, that doesn’t mean I have failed. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to keep up.