You hear a lot about the benefits of meditation these days but that incessant mental chatter is reluctant to give up center stage. Foregoing a lobotomy, what is one to do?
Sitting cross-legged on a cushion to meditate was as agonizing for me as soaking in a hot bath. (I can’t wait ’til it’s over.) Same for sitting straight with hands on my thighs — even if it’s my favorite chair. Someone gave me a book on transcendental meditation but I got through maybe a third of it (at best). The standard practice of focusing on the breath doesn’t hold my focus.
A spiritual guide who entered my life like an angel, eased my anxiety over not being able to meditate. (Counterproductive like rushing to yoga class.) “You know, you don’t have to sit in a lotus pose or chant to meditate,” he said. “Anytime you’re solely focused in the moment, it’s meditation. Like when you’re gardening or acutely aware of those bluest of blue skies.” He was talking about mindful meditation.
Somewhere in all of this I discovered hand drumming and before I knew it, I became a regular at the twice-monthly sessions at the health food store. Drumming for 3 hours straight felt like only minutes passed. (Talk about transcendental!) I experienced drumming’s healing effects by osmosis and later learned it’s gaining popularity for treating various health conditions (high blood pressure, cancer, stress, Parkinson’s, depression, etc. For me, it was chronic fatigue). See drumming for mindfulness.
One of the drummers showed me a movement meditation. Focusing solely on the fluid movements resonated with me like when I practice morning Qigong. I don’t drum in the morning for obvious reasons and prefer the energy of a diverse drum circle anyway.
Can you feel the calming energy in her sweeping movements? You can feel this way too. Go ahead. Try it. No one’s watching.
Still, there are days when my to-do list wins out and sets me in high gear before I’ve practiced self-care. More recently, I’ve heard that beginning the day with even one minute of meditation is beneficial. One minute? Really? I can do that.
So, when I came across this post on sound meditation from a blogger who also has difficulty quieting her mind, I thought I’d try it. I simply focused solely on the sounds around me as they appeared: a cardinal flitting from the feeder to my window screen, another bird chirping in the distance, a whooshing car…rain on the roof, on the glass, through the gutter…the hum of the refrigerator…a creaking board. This worked beautifully to ward off my noisy taskmaster. And as my thoughts attempted to wander in wonder of what type of bird I heard, it was easier to gently pull back and simply — focus — on the sound — simply — as sound.
No longer am I stressed that I can’t meditate in the usually depicted forms. Different strokes for different folks you know. The key is finding what resonates for you. If you have trouble quieting mental chatter, you might want to try sound or movement meditation. I’d love to hear your experience — we’re all in this together.
“Meditation: when the space between your thoughts becomes greater than the thoughts between your spaces.” — Alan Cohen