I didn't need my spiritual advisor to keep telling me "you need to meditate." I knew that I needed to. Not only because life was well, in a word, challenging! It was also needed to focus and energize me as I searched for my life's purpose.
I read up on meditation techniques. I searched and searched for classes, workshops, and "retreats" to go to, to learn meditation. I was fascinated by the prospect of being in some nature setting, bonding with other "spirituality seekers" and learning the "magic" techniques to not just meditate, but to meditate like a pro. I also watched and listened to numerous videos/audios, with music, and affirmations, and with this technique and that. There are hundreds and hundreds of resources and organizations online, and I kept thinking I needed to research all and find the best one.
But my spiritual advisor kept telling me, just sit in a quiet place and count your breaths. "All you have to do," he said, "is count your breaths coming in and out, in and out." And keep doing it, until I reached a count of 100, without letting my mind wander. And if my mind wandered, he said "start over." Sounded so damn easy!
But that isn't meditation, I thought! (I mean if it was that simple, why are people like Deepak Chopra, Bob Proctor, and Wayne Dyer, just to name a few so revered, not to mention richer than God? It had to be more complicated that just counting my breaths!)
And so the analysis paralysis continued.....I spent a couple more weeks sitting in a quiet room with headphones on, listening to various "guided meditations." They were wonderful, with soothing music, hypnotizing voices, and I felt I had found a few good techniques.
The problem was, I couldn't see the "beam of light," the "white light," the "energy shower," the "burst of white light," etc....that every narrator told me I should be seeing. I knew I had a pretty good imagination, so what was I doing wrong that I couldn't "see" that "energy or light"?
Finally, I decided to give the "counting breaths" technique a try. Some days I could make it to ten breaths, without nary a wandering thought entering my mind. Other days, I could barely make it to five breaths and get frustrated and quit. Every day was a struggle, but I kept at it, and kept at it.
And finally one day, I did make it to 100 breath counts in one sitting.
It was tough. It is tough. Restarting is something I have to do often. I don't always make it to 100. But I have finally learned to conquer the "wandering mind", even if for a few minutes only each day.
And here are some techniques that helped me:
- The earlier in the day I start, the less I struggle with focus.
- I listen to some soothing music BEFORE I begin meditating, and that seems to help me focus better.
- If I have an early meeting or don't have the 20 minutes that I need, I prefer to postpone my meditation until later in the day.
- I never let a day go by without meditating. Practice does indeed make perfect, but creating a daily habit is more important when meditating.
- If I'm traveling, I do the "breathing count" without the heavy inhalation & exhalation (so as not to scare the person sitting next to me in the plane)
- I try not to do this "breath counting" while I'm in bed, cause I know I can fall asleep in 30 seconds (and I have, lol)
Meditating was an activity that I was seriously stressed about. I also thought I needed to learn the "perfect technique", as if such a thing even exists! When I decided to let go of my desire to find the perfect solution, and just act, it worked.
So if you haven't begun meditating, or are struggling to find the "easiest or most perfect" method to meditate, perhaps you should do what I did. Just count your breaths. Done.
P.S. I haven't managed to do 200 breath counts in one sitting yet, but that is a goal.