One of my clients decided to try meditating recently. I have to admit, I’m not a meditator — not because I haven’t tried, however. I have. But it’s frickin HARD! It’s one of those tricky things that seems like it should be easy — but trust me, it’s not.
What’s more, for a lot of us (like me!) meditation has something of a ‘woo-woo,’ goofy quality to it. You hear ‘meditation,’ you think guru on a mountaintop. So then, when you try, you feel stupid. Okay, I feel stupid — and I really can’t turn off my mind. The problem with meditation is it’s only marketed for a certain type of person, which causes this sort of discomfort among other types of us. But all meditation is, I’ve discovered, is practicing presence — noticing when our mind drifts. And when we realize that, we realize how beneficial this is for anyone, in any walk of life. Because what happens to us in everyday happenings? We’re constantly distracted. We’re constantly bouncing from one thing to another. Our minds wander, there’s interruption, it seems like there’s always a distraction of some sort; we get a ping from social media, a ding from our email, a buzz from a text — and we have a Pavlovian response. Most of us don’t know how to control the things that are distracting us, because we have no practice.
Meditation is that practice. It’s taking five minutes and saying “Can I do that? Can I notice when I’m distracted? And can I pull myself back to a task?” That’s it. And that’s why meditation focuses on breathing — it’s simply a task that we can practice focusing on. It could be anything, really, but breathing is readily available and most of us do it wrong anyway, so by focusing on breathing we get a double benefit: practiced focus and improved breathing. In the end, that’s what most of us lack on a daily basis, that practiced focus on presence. We lack the ability to notice when we become distracted — and the ability to pull ourselves back to the task at hand. Perhaps, if we can learn to do it for five minutes during meditation, we could learn to apply it other times throughout the day.
I challenge you to give meditation a try this week. Forget the woo woo aspects and just challenge yourself to notice. Try Headspace’s free trial for some guidance, if you’d like. Do it for a few minutes every day, and make a note of how you feel. How does this practice affect you? Does it help you focus? Relax? Rest? Or even become more alert?
I’d love to hear about it.