Meditation: One Breath at a Time

Meditation

Have you ever tried to sit and be present for 10 minutes? For that matter, have you ever tried to take 10 consecutive deep breathes, without getting distracted? Well, if not, let me tell you: it’s hard. No, like REALLY. HARD.

Meditation 101

During yoga teacher training this past weekend, we discussed meditation with Alicia (one of the fab It’s All Yoga teachers). In reflecting on our discussion, what really struck me was how accessible Alicia was able to make meditation for beginners like me. Meditation, she explained, is all about intention. The intention to:

  • Be present.
  • Let things be.
  • Know them as they are.
  • Notice what is happening and how you react to it.
  • Connect with what you believe in.
  • Have an open and receptive mind.
  • Let the debris settle.

Whether you are sitting, walking, dancing, or washing dishes, Alicia explained, it can be meditation. Alicia’s suggestions rang true to me because they really focused on finding our own right way, a consistent theme in our program lately.

My Recent Foray Into Daily Meditation

Lately one of our yoga teaching training homework assignments has been to practice sitting. With that in mind, for the past several weeks I have been making a concerted effort to opt for 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, rather than hitting the snooze button one extra time. My morning routine now goes something like this: turn off alarm, roll out of bed, sit down in front of my altar space, burn a little sage while reminding myself that today is a new day, set the timer for 10 minutes, and sit.

As with my Restorative Yoga experience, I would not describe sitting as fun. In fact, maybe it’s the opposite. While I’m sitting, my mind seems hell bent on doing something alone these lines:

Inhale, exhale, inhale {What will I wear to work today? Is my blue shirt clean? I wonder if…, oh wait, I’m meditating}  exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale {I have absolutely no food in the fridge. I need to go grocery shopping. Maybe I’ll go after work today. I need to get milk, crackers…, oh wait, I’m meditating} exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale {Crap, I haven’t responded to Kate’s email yet. Or Heather’s or Lila’s. Or Betsy’s. Or my mom’s. I really need to do that today…, oh wait, I’m meditating} inhale, exhale, inhale {My nose itches. No wait it doesn’t. You’re fine. Stop being distracted…you’re meditating} exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale {It feels like it’s been a long time. Obviously way longer than 10 minutes. Maybe I forgot to set the timer? No, I double-checked. It will ring when 10 minutes is up. There is absolutely no need for you to check the timer right now. Come on now, come back to your breath…} exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale {Ding! Saved by the timer.}

Some days my mind goes to darker places. Other days it can’t seem to stay focused at all. And every once in a while there is a brief period where I stop having to try so hard and it just works. But regardless, those 10 minutes seem to do something. I can’t quite articulate what yet, but there is something noticeably different about days when I carve out the time to sit versus the days when I choose not to make that effort. And, luckily, simply noticing is the most important part.

How about you? Do you meditate? Why/why not? I would love to hear about your experiences!

12 comments

  1. I meditate on the days that I work, like you in the morning. As you say it is hard, but what I have learned is also to accept what does happen. That is it OK to have a day when the meditation is not going the way I wanted. I feel that then at least I have done some good breathing and listened to my body and how it is feeling that day.
    I have noticed that I have become calmer and more accepting in general and I think it has to do with the meditation as much as the learning to accept what happens then.

  2. Yep… that’s how my thoughts run too… even during a guided visualization it’s hard to focus… but I keep trying… every once in a while… :>

  3. i flirt with meditation every time i get really stressed out and it always helps and i always let it go until i need it again.

    also: are you in my head? that is EXACTLY what my brain sounds like too! so pedestrian and yet, so distracting.

  4. I feel in the last week, the homework to sit and just be is brilliant. For no other reason than I need to “make” myself just have me time and that 5-10 minutes is an instruction and a blessing I am following. Do I usually wander like you were describing, yes ma’am. This week to be still is working out for me….and the saga continues. :)

  5. OMG I feel exactly the same way. Chit chat…Oh I’m supposed to be meditating… you articulate our lessons so well. Thanks for clarifying some important points that must have passed by while my mind was chattering (even while not meditating).

  6. Funny and true! This happens to me too and it can be hard to focus. As a working mom by mind is always running way ahead of my body. Sometimes I have to just refocus and find a few minutes to calm down. I am learning to get better :-) Thanks for sharing!

  7. Yes, and like most mindful practices, it’s easy and hard. Breathing deeply, simply letting thoughts come and go, just practicing is easy. But attainment – just what is it we think we will attain? – that is the hard part. For me, the practice is usually interrupted by, “I’m doing it!” too, and then, of course, it’s gone, just like the thoughts before and after it. Such is the life of mindful practice!

  8. I love your altar! The statue is lovely, and is “let it go” your mantra? Mine is Let it Be, thank you SIr McCartney, how similar no?

    I am so proud of you that you’re hanging with sitting, and that it’s making you feel good. I love it, makes me feel so calm. I think I”ll try it daily, you’re my inspiration as usual!

    1. Thanks Kate! Yes, I think “let it go” is a good mantra for me to play with for now. :) And I’ve been substituting walking for sitting on the weekends, since its nice to get up and move!

  9. Reblogged this on Perspectives of a Student Teacher and commented:
    Meditation – Possibly a way to calm myself. Love this picture

  10. I LOVE your description of meditation! It sounds so very familiar, but isn’t it great to dedicate this time to ourselves? I, too, have decided to wake in the morning, meditate and do some pranayama. I am having varying degrees of “success” with both. The main thing I am learning is to just sit and BE with whatever comes, not to judge (or try not to) and keep doing it.

  11. Such a great description of meditation! Hilarious.

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