Anyone Can Meditate (You CAN’T Do It “Wrong”)
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard “I’m bad at meditating. The thing is, that’s not true. Ever. Anyone can meditate. The problem isn’t that the person is “bad” at meditation – the problem is that many people have a flawed belief about what meditation is.
There is no such thing as being “good” or “bad” at meditation. Meditating is taking time to connect to your Self (the kind with a capital “S” – your true essence of who you really are). And for some — myself included — it may also be taking time to connect and listen to a higher power (God/ the Universe / whatever you call it). Either way, there is no way you can get THAT “wrong.”
The biggest misconception I hear from clients and friends is that your thoughts are supposed to stop when you meditate. While it IS spectacularly awesome when that happens, it’s a rare meditation when your mind gets to the point of actually being completely blank. That’s really not the point of meditation though. Meditating is about letting your thoughts pass with an awareness of what they are and without attachment. It’s about letting go. It’s about allowing yourself the time and space for deep personal healing. It’s about meeting who you REALLY are.
There are many ways to meditate & every way is not right for everyone. Every way is not right for every day, either. I meditate in some form at least once every day. It’s not always the same and I let my intuition guide me on what I need “right now.” Sometimes it’s listening to my breath, sometimes it’s using a mantra in Sanskrit or repeating a sound like “aum” or “amen” in rhythm with my breath, sometimes it’s repeating a word or phrase in English over and over in my mind, sometimes it‘s movement, sometimes it is a visualization, sometimes I just surrender and see what happens, sometimes I hold a crystal, sometimes I hold a mala, most days I just hold myself.
No two days and no two meditations are exactly the same.
What is consistent with almost every meditation is that random thoughts inevitably come up and pass through my mind. Sometimes my brain even wants to focus on the same thing in different ways during an entire meditation. It’s not because I’m bad at meditating or doing it wrong! It’s because I’m human, so that’s going to happen. The other thing that’s consistent: My life is MUCH MUCH MUCH better when I meditate.
When I started mediating I learned with the popular Headspace meditation app without any spiritual motivation at all. I was in it for the science of how much it improves mental health and cognitive function. I had heard the hype and was skeptical, but I thought maybe it would relax me just a little bit and help me deal with the fact I was horrible at being bored. Nobody could have convinced me that sitting still and listening to myself breathe for a few minutes a day could and would profoundly change almost every aspect of my life in a positive way.
Not only am I significantly happier and dealing with stress a million times better than I did for the first 30+ years of my life, but my skin started glowing, it made it easier to eat healthy and stick to taking care of my body (exercise, etc), it increased the quality of all of my relationships and helped me connect more deeply with whoever I’m with, and it even completely changed how strangers act towards me. At a physical a couple of months into my meditation practice my physician who I’d been going to for years even said that it was like I ‘somehow reverse aged’ that year and suddenly had a body that was 8 years younger than I actually was.
About eight weeks into my own practice I knew a daily meditation practice was the greatest gift I’d ever given myself. Beyond my initial motivations it was everything I needed for reasons I never expected.
If you’ve never meditated and have even the slightest hint of interest in exploring, I highly recommend the Headspace meditation app as a starting point. You don’t need malas or mantras or visualizations or crystals (though you may get there with adding them into your practice rotation like I have), and you don’t need to be deeply spiritual or religious to listen to yourself breathe.
If you sit down and do it, I promise you can’t do it wrong. All it takes is a commitment to sit with your Self each day. I don’t care how busy you are — anyone can find 10 minute a day. If you can do that, you’re well on your way.