Monday, August 19, 2013

The Discipline of Meditation


I don't think too many people would argue that meditation is mainstream. But that wasn't always the case.

In my lifetime, meditation has gone from only practiced in the far East and among those who had dedicated their lives to secluded spirituality, to transcendental meditation using mantras and our third eye, to mainstream popularity where it's fairly easy to find a class to attend around home and where you work.

And though we in the West have have embraced the practice, we tend to go about it in a less-disciplined way than when first introduced.

Some of us are more...well, disciplined than others when it comes to practicing. If you've read my other posts, you already know I meditate twice a day. Every day. Once in the morning before starting my day. Once in the evening before retiring for the night. Most of the time my practice times are about 15 or 20 minutes long, though I do on occasion take an hour. Sometimes I need that kind of down time. No question that I sleep better and I feel more refreshed during the day as a result.

But let me say that when I first started to practice, I had painful challenges. Not because I wasn't fit, but rather, because of all that I'd done throughout my life striving to stay fit. My body was used to moving, not staying in the same position.

And then there were all the injuries I'd sustained over the years of sometimes overdoing it. My knees. My back. My hips. You get the picture. But that's an entirely different post.

In truth, I couldn't sit comfortably in the classic lotus position to save my soul. You know the position I'm talking about. The one where your legs look as though they're twisted up like a pretzel. My hips seized up. My feet went to sleep. And my back, my poor lower back felt as though it would separate from my spinal column. It felt more like torture than time in quiet reflection.

But I am nothing if not determined. Some would call me stubborn, but in my way of thinking, that's the negative way to view what can be a really positive trait. I see myself as focused on not letting things get the better of me. I like to give whatever I'm trying every opportunity to work. I'll concede there's a time to pack it in, but I wasn't ready to call it quits just yet. I wanted to experience the bliss, the joy, all that meditation promised.

So in my determination, I got creative. I rummaged around the house for anything and everything soft and plush. Blankets. Pillows. Cushions. Even the little sewn-together teddy bears hubby bought me when I was in hospital a few years ago got recruited. No more sitting around collecting dust. No-siree. Each item would now have a new grander purpose.

I dumped everything in a dedicated space in our basement. Well, maybe dumped is a little more disorganized than I actually was. I'll be honest with you: I lined up all my cushy tools neatly in order of size and degree of cushy-ness. Perfectionism has not yet eluded me, though I continue to recover.

I was now ready to turn that space into my very own "practice space" and get down to meditating.
  • Yoga mat in place for maximum grip. Check.
  • Cushions propped up against the wall for shock absorption. Check.
  • Pillows stacked and at the ready for tailgate landing. Check.
  • Blankets rolled and tucked for knee support. Check.
  • Permission to outstretch my legs when they got numb. Check. Betcha didn't expect that one.
  • Permission to move if I felt pain. Check.
  • Permission to change position of my hands and arms if they felt heavy. Check.
It was more important that I be comfortable than it was to stick to traditional ideas of what we're supposed to look like when we meditate. Or the position we're supposed to be in. After all, if I were in a wheelchair, unable to move my legs, I'd have to meditate in a position I could get into. If I were bedridden, I'd have to practice while in bed. Fact is, most mornings I DO practice in bed.

Meditation is about being alert and focused. It's about having the discipline to practice at least once, if not twice a day, even for a short time. But that will never happen if you're in pain or discomfort. You'll pack it in.

So give yourself permission to get into a comfortable position, whatever that position is for you. Then give yourself permission to move if necessary. And for goodness sake, use what you need in order to support the various parts of your body. You want those body parts to last a very long time. And you want to be comfortable in your practice. Only then will you be able to experience the bliss and joy that meditation can bring. Namaste.

What do you do to make your meditations more comfortable?


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