Hello! So you’re thinking about meditation? You’re off to a good start, because “thinking” is what meditation is all about. Without our thoughts, who would we be? Certainly not ourselves, but perhaps a bit more relaxed! Truthfully, meditation is not about stopping thoughts or eliminating thoughts. When you look up the purpose of meditation in old texts, a common definition is “to still the thought waves.” This implies that the thought waves are still going to exist rather than cease to exist.
Let’s get this straight from the beginning: when you meditate, you are still going to think…even while you’re meditating! We can only still our thought waves by becoming aware of our thoughts while we are thinking. “How does this work?” you might wonder. Everything changes when you shift your attention from what your thoughts are to when and if you’re having thoughts.
Here’s an experiment you can try right now: Close your eyes and notice the next thought that goes through your mind. Did anything happen? Were there a few moments when there were no thoughts or thought waves? Well, if that was your experience, that’s a taste of meditation! Now then, the very first step to meditation is called finding your seat. Your seat can be on the floor, or in chair. It can be in a space either inside or outside that is free of your personal distractions – i.e. phones, children who need your attention, other people who want or need your attention, animals…you get the picture, a somewhat quiet place. Some people need to elevate their hips up on a cushion or pillow to sit with their legs crossed. If your legs don’t like to bend like that, sit in a chair with both feet on the floor. Either way, floor or chair, sit with your back straight. It’s helpful to place your hands on your knees and touch the forefinger and thumb together to help you focus inwardly. Closing your eyes can be helpful for beginners. Now you’re there – you’ve found your seat!
This is the first step and oftentimes the hardest step to meditation – just getting to the pillow, so to speak. Making the time to meditate is 90% of the effort. My advice is to just practice finding your seat once a day for a week. How long you sit there is up to you! Sometimes people experience discomfort when they sit. It could be their back, their hips, their neck, etc. If this is the case for you, drop into a yoga class with us at Whole Yoga. The main purpose of doing yoga postures is to help open the hips and loosen the back as well as relax your nervous system, which preps your body and mind for meditation. Any yoga teacher here can take a few minutes after class to help you to FIND YOUR SEAT!