How to Begin a Meditation Practice
When life feels chaotic, many of us tend to look to external sources for gratification and fulfillment. We look to an "other" or to material things such as a nicer home, flashy car, fancy wardrobe or exotic vacation to provide that sense of safety, security and happiness we are seeking, when in reality no person or thing can provide those feelings. Happiness and feelings of peace and serenity can only be found within. Defining self worth by the externals in life is a recipe for disaster. It results in a never ending race to accumulate more, to do more, to be more ... and it will never be enough.
If feelings of happiness and peace are absent from your life, practicing meditation is the surest way to discover and fully embody them.
"But meditation is hard"; "I can't stop my mind from wandering"; "I can't sit still for 20 minutes every day"; "I don't have time" ... I've heard all the excuses (often times coming from my own mouth). You DO have time; you MAKE the time. And YES, it's hard; but it gets easier with practice.
I heard this analogy years ago about meditation and it has stuck with me. Imagine a bucket of sandy water. If you shake the bucket up, the water becomes murky as the sand swirls every which way in the bucket. Now imagine allowing the bucket to sit still for a few minutes. What happens? The sand settles to the bottom and you are left with clear water. CLARITY. The sand represents all of the thoughts racing through your mind. You need to be able to quiet those thoughts in order to be able to hear your true voice. In order to find clarity.
There are many methods of meditation and gifted masters to teach you the finer points of the practice, but the most important thing to do is to START. If you are new to the practice, just take baby steps. Begin by committing five minutes every morning when you wake up and another five minutes before you go to sleep to sit quietly with your eyes closed and breathe. Breathe deeply and slowly and concentrate your awareness on your breath. Once five minutes feels easy, add another five, until you are sitting in meditation easily for at least twenty minutes.
If you find your mind is wandering, acknowledge whatever thought has entered your mind, then release it, and bring your attention back to your breath. It can be helpful to silently repeat a mantra as you breathe. For example, "I am love" on the inhale and "I am light" on the exhale. Choose words or phrases that are meaningful to you. The repetition of the phrases helps to keep your mind clear and focused and the higher vibrational energy of the words will elevate your mood as well.
The hardest part is getting started. Just do it. You're worth it!