My parents made me meditate for the first time when I was 13 -- in a weekend-long meditation retreat. It was pure torture. I went on for the next two decades refusing to meditate and opining that it was only for crazy people -- of course, I was the crazy person, because I wasn't meditating!
This week many of my clients and readers are beginning to meditate for the first time and they are searching for clarity around what it is to meditate, how to do it, when to do it, and even if they've been meditating for years, they're discovering there's a way to go deeper and make it more productive and applicable to their daily lives.
Oftentimes when we begin to meditate we can experience a lot of resistance showing up in the form of sudden itches, discomfort sitting, anxiety, or just not even making the time for it when we had the pure intention of doing so. The voice of the ego -- the loud, chattery voice that is always worrying, analyzing and trying to figure things out -- seems to get louder when we start to sit with ourselves and it also likes to make things more complicated than they are and to judge the process. This can be disheartening and frustrating. And the reflex is to keep running away from ourselves in distractions, habits, relationships, work, food, the way we've been doing forever rather than staying there and being with it all.
So let it be messy. In the beginning, the ego speaks first and loudest. As we practice witnessing our thoughts and the stories our ego has been telling us, we detach from them rather than going into the vicious fear cycle. Our awareness around the ego's thoughts actually helps to dissolve it and the voice eventually gets more quiet, clearing the space for the voice of our inner guide, the loving voice within that has all of our answers and brings us peace.
Photo credit: Eric Yagoda
There is a gradual effect from meditation, like building a muscle over time. When we've never worked out before or haven't done so consistently, it's more difficult at first, but the more we do it, the stronger we get and the more expansive and limitless it can feel. We think a lot about staying in shape on the outside and how much work goes into that, but when we realize the power of flexing our spiritual muscle daily, we can see its life-changing impact.
Remember, this is the gentle approach of self-love, so don't let the ego hijack your spiritual practice. Meditating out of obligation or forcing and pushing yourself to do it, beating up on yourself if you don't or haven't been consistent with the daily practice, is not self-love and it's the ego's way of keeping you down. Rise above it and love yourself enough to be patient with you.
My first two months of meditation were crying. They were not blissed out, zen experiences where I floated on clouds and had no thoughts in my mind.
In fact, the goal was never to sit in silence, with no thoughts, feelings or insights. From the beginning, I went into meditation from a pro-active place with a deep, inner knowing that this was going to be the key that would unlock all of my answers -- I just had no idea what, how, why, or when. I allowed my meditations to be whatever they needed to be. I listened to music, used guided meditations to help my thoughts focus, going in with clear intentions around seeing things from a higher perspective, releasing whatever I needed to let go of. I would begin with five minutes and then it turned into 10. After I stayed into 30 minutes or an hour, sometimes a couple hours, I would be able to bypass my mind and fully connect with my spirit.
When I began meditating I was in a rock bottom in my life and I could barely get out of bed in the morning. I sat through tears; I sat when I was angry; I sat when I was scared; I sat when I was lonely; I sat when I was confused. I didn't need to create a fancy alter or even buy a meditation pillow. I just sat up in bed in the morning and began. Or I would pull myself up from the sofa crying and sit there and meditate.
Meditation became the gateway to the relationship with myself and with spirit, my higher self, the universe -- whatever you would like to call it. When I needed to call on someone, when I needed answers, peace, clarity, love, I meditated. As I strengthened this relationship with myself, I connected with the higher aspects of myself that had been blocked by my ego for so long -- I was connecting with who I really was, pure unconditional love, perfect, whole and complete, lacking nothing, and abundant beyond anything I'd felt.
The impetus to begin was so that I could get the relationship I wanted and have things on the outside work out for me, but what I found on the way was myself. I found me. This was my awakening.
I woke up and in doing so I found the prize wasn't my beloved; the prize was me.
This practice became the most liberating and empowering thing I had ever experienced -- the miracle was my shift in perception around needing something outside of myself and realizing I had everything I needed within me. I found happiness within when there was chaos all around me on the outside. And that new energy within me was the energy that transformed and healed the chaos around me.
Meditation is no longer a passive practice or one in which we remove ourselves from the world. Meditation is the catalyst for transformation, self-knowledge and taking action in the world from an aligned place of love rather than a limiting place of fear-doing things from our heart rather than what everyone else wants us to do or what we think we should be doing.
Love takes action on behalf of our own dreams and desires and on behalf of humanity. Not only did I find myself in meditation and my spiritual path, but I found my mission and purpose on the planet. Each of us has gifts to share with the world, ways in which we serve others and bring light onto a darkened planet.
The more I connected with myself, the more everything outside of me began to transform in miraculous ways. I was tending to my internal space daily which directly affected my external world in awe-inspiring ways and new relationships blossomed, my business transformed, my mission expanded, and my energy hit a high that I had never known possible -- I didn't need an alarm clock anymore and began rising with the sun.
The daily practice of prayer/intention and meditation is the backbone of a spiritual practice and a commitment we make to ourselves and ultimately to humanity because we are all connected and it is our duty and responsibility to bring our light and our happiness to others. Our devotion to this practice is devotion to love and to reality, allowing us to detach from fear and illusions.
I invite you this week to begin or to deepen your daily practice. These steps are also in The Happiness Blueprint, so that you can easily integrate them into your daily life. Begin your day with prayer/intention the moment you open your eyes, silently calling on your higher self by saying whatever resonates for you at that time. This could look like, "Thank you for guiding me to loving perceptions today," "I choose happiness," "I choose to have faith in love and not faith in fear." You can begin your meditation with a question and listen for guidance that's coming in, having a journal next to you if you need it. Throughout your day, the living prayer and meditation is witnessing your thoughts and the ego's stories and calling on your higher self for new perceptions. Peace is available to you in any moment.
I love hearing from you! Please share in the comments below your experience with meditation, what you're working on right now or questions or challenges you're facing!