How different would our lives be if meditation were not only part of our day, but if we radically accepted ourselves while doing it? When I first began meditating, I could sit for a total of two minutes. My mind wandered, my skin itched and I squirmed relentlessly. "Am I supposed to play music?" I would think; then I would realize I was thinking and begin judging myself for thinking. I would ponder that maybe a visit to an Ashram in India "Eat, Pray, Love" style was necessary before I could get it right.
Does this sound familiar? My clients tell me daily that perfection is a huge part of their meditation, so they usually just don't do it. I am here to distill the myths and help you cut yourself some slack, whether you are able to sit in lotus position or you need to lie down with a heating pad to feel comfortable meditating.
It's time to ditch the illusion of perfection in meditation and allow your mind to rest instead (as well as being ok with when it doesn't.) Here are five things you should know about befriending the meditation process and ditching the perfectionism when it arises.
1. There is no right or wrong way to meditate.
David Lynch said, "The thing about meditation is, you become more and more you." Meditation is about touching your authentic truth and learning to be ok with whatever arises and that is going to look different for each person. What works as a successful meditation for your friend may not be what works for you. There is beauty in the process of figuring out what your style of meditation is, even if you choose to make it up.
2. Every day doesn't have to look the same.
There are days I sat aside an hour to sit down to meditate with a fluffy cushion, a crystal song bowl and lit candles. I like to call this hour a date with my higher self. I often spend this sacred time praying, meditating, reading inspirational passages and free writing. Other days my meditation looks like this: "Kids, I am going in the bathroom for three minutes and shutting the door. Unless you're bleeding don't knock. I just need three minutes!"
3. Meditation can happen anywhere.
That's right. Meditation can happen anywhere, even on the toilet. (However, it is never a good idea to meditate while driving.) As a mom of three I have made finding time and places to meditate an art. You can meditate in line at the grocery store by focusing on your breath or while out to dinner and staring at the flicker of the flame from a candle. One of my favorite locations to meditate has become the bathtub. I visualize the water washing away all of the stress of the day and all negative energy swirling down the drain.
3. You can befriend your wandering mind.
Our minds are made to think, and even the most skilled meditators still find that their minds wander during meditation. The key is to see the thoughts with non-judgement and instead of grabbing on to them and jumping on the thought train, simply watch them pass by and return to your breath. Over and over. This returning to the breath cultivates our ability to focus and concentrate over time. According to Deepak Chopra, "Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It's a way of entering into the quiet that's already there buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every single day."
5. When all else fails, all you have to do is breathe.
The great news is you already know how to breathe, which by deduction means you know how to meditate. When all else fails and you feel like you are doing everything in meditation wrong, simply focus on your breath. Close your eyes, take few deep belly breaths and repeat to yourself:
"May I truly be happy and free from perfection. May I accept myself just as I am and know that even these few breaths are enough. May I know that I am enough."
Congratulations, you have just meditated. You don't have to have an hour or be able to levitate. All you need is the willingness to begin and to be perfectly imperfect.