Clear. Settled. Still.
These are words that come to mind when I think of meditation. These are also feelings I struggle to find when I sit down to meditate. I cannot seem to quiet my mind and often end my attempts at meditating a bit frustrated, scattered, and concerned - the opposite of what I should be.
Maybe I'm trying too hard, I think, maybe meditation is just not my thing.
It wasn't until recently that I realized that maybe my perception of meditation was all wrong.
A few months ago, I was a newly graduated yoga teacher prepping to lead my first class. I was set to substitute for my teacher in a class I had taken many times and knew most of the students. I wanted to keep a similar structure, which meant the class always ends with a beautiful guided meditation. Cue the nerves - if I have issues with meditatig myself, how am I going to guide a room full of people through it?! I shared my concern with my teacher and being the amazing person she is, said, 'Think about what you do that helps you turn inwards.'
So I did think about it and there were two outcomes - I led a simple meditation for my class that everyone seemed to enjoy. Second, and more importantly, I realized I've been meditating for years; I just didn't know it.
Join me in this visualization of my practice:
It is morning. The house is quiet. My husband and son are still asleep. The sun is starting to creep into my living room. I am sitting at the kitchen table with a blanket wrapped around me and have my coffee sitting next to me. I watch the steam float from the mug and scatter into the air. I lift the mug and cradle it with both hands. The heat from the mug warms my hands. I lift the mug closer and feel the steam on my face. I blow the steam and it dances in all directions. I hesitate in worry of burning myself, so I hold the mug a few moments, taking in the scents, feeling my whole body warmed by the heat of the mug. I patiently await the first sip. As the steam starts to fade, I lift the cup for the first taste. As the coffee touches my lips, I relax. The temperature is hot, but not burning hot. The taste is bitter, yet comforting. The coffee warms me from the inside out. I breath in the morning. I notice the emotions that arise with each sip and let them float by just like the steam from the coffee. I continue sipping. Breathing. Being.
This is my ideal practice. It doesn't always happen like this - somedays I sip while my son plays around me and others I don't get to sit down until my son naps (at that point it's mint tea). Whether it happens while I'm alone or not there are a few constants - warm drink, I sit, I sip until it's gone. I feel like a new person after.
So, it turns out there isn't a secret meditation formula like I was expecting. That also means I followed the meditation 'rules' too closely. What is it you do that brings you inwards? The practice looks different for everyone and whatever yours is, keeping doing you. Do what makes you clear. settled. still.
Amber was born and raised amongst the cornfields of Indiana. She now lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and son. When she is not playing trucks with her 3 year old, you can find her sipping a hot beverage or practicing yoga. You can follow her on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/amberphyoga/)