“I can’t meditate!”
When I tell people that I teach yoga and meditation people that have no relationship to yoga and meditation tell me all the reasons they can’t do them. Or that they have always wanted to do them but don’t. Or that they have tried them and that yoga and meditation just aren’t for them. That’s like someone saying food is not for them because they have only tried liver. Liver is fine for some people but other people detest it.
There are many types of yoga classes like there are many types of foods. And there are many types of meditation. Most people who have told me that they can’t meditate say they can’t be still for very long or their mind wanders. I tell them “I have good news! Everyone is fidgety and everyone’s mind wanders!”
When I first started meditating I set a timer for 3 minutes. It was torture. I couldn’t sit still. My back hurt. I was certain there was a bug on my face. It was an eternity. Longest. Three. Minutes. Ever. But I committed to practice for 40 days. So every day I sat. And slowly I realized that I was less uncomfortable. That my mind wandered less. I just kept practicing. I thought, “Even if I think about my to do list the entire time I am not moving from this spot.”
Over the years I have learned many types of meditation. There are walking meditations, meditations I say to myself while I am driving or sometimes in the middle of an argument or crazy situation. There are meditations I have done laying down (this comes in handy if you are in cancer treatment and sitting up is simply too much effort) and guided imagery meditations. In fact if you google meditation you will find thousands of sites offering up meditations that have been helpful to someone.
I credit my meditation practice for helping me stay somewhat sane through all of the trials of the past six years, and if you have been reading my blog you know there have been many. Now when I sit to meditate my altar is like an old friend. Oh, there’s the cross that Great-Grandma Werner gave me, the card from Beth, the lavender from Janet, the Ganesh card from Tom with the silly drawing inside, spaghetti sauce wishes from Patti, water from the Ganges gathered for me by Rudra Das, a crucifix from a student, a mala from Cliff, angels that represent friends, the Maha Mritanjaya Mantra in gold from Swamiji Kalihatti, and many other tokens that link me with love. When I sit in front of them and light a candle I sigh with relief. It’s the same feeling I used to get going in the back door at my grandmother’s house, or when hugging my mom with my head on her bosom. It’s home.
And my mind still wanders often. But instead of fussing over it I rejoice in the knowledge that I am aware that it’s wandering. Because before I learned about meditation and started practicing it I was living with only a wandering mind and without the awareness of who I really am. Meditation for me is about connecting to that divine part of myself that flows with the universe.
Minds are like three-year-old children. When they wander off we have to call them lovingly back to the matter at hand. Hopefully you wouldn’t yell at your toddler for wandering; don’t judge your own mind for wandering. It’s what minds do – they look for something to focus on. Over time you can train it to focus on what you want, just like over time you can train your child to focus on reading, or math, or gymnastics.