My first introduction to meditation practice was when I was in college, 36 years ago.Those were the days of TM (Transcendental Meditation).The Guru was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I was given my mantra which I diligently used for the next five years. I’ve always been the committed type to that “body/mind” thing and meditation was no different. My big obstacle as years went by was that I was a child of the times experimenting with the times. I had the tendency to care very much about what I instilled in my body, mind and spirit—yet, at the same time, was quite destructive to that very state.
I became healthier as time went by. Along with growing older, I began to make better life enhancing choices. My yoga practice (which began even before college) became more and more important. But meditation grew to be a stumbling block for many years of my yoga practice. I found it impossible to be still. My mind was like a commercial, constantly switching from one thought to another and there wasn’t much focus or serenity in the sitting part. I felt like I wasn’t getting “it”—which is something I hear so much from my students. “Monkey Mind,” as the Buddhists call it, can wreak havoc on your focus as your mind “swings” from one thought to the next.
My interest in Yoga, for more years than I care to admit, was really on the physicality of it. But, I did continue to sit. Truth be told, I felt frustrated and less of a Yogi because I just couldn’t still my mind.
Now many years later, I can still my mind much of the time…but not all of the time. My secret? I’ve released myself from judgement and criticism and I sit. And I sit. And I sit. Today,this is a practice I need to do. Just like breathing, I need to to meditate. My meditation has become more important to me than my asana practice.There are days that I can swim, walk, paddle board and kayak. I might not practice asana seven days a week. Yoga is all about balance. Inner balance. There are days when its better for me to do something physical other than asana. But there aren’t any days when I don’t meditate.
I’ve practiced all kinds of structured meditation—Vipassana, Metta, counting breaths, Trataka.The best instruction given to me and the best secret I can pass on to you is simple. Sit and breathe. Just sit there. The thoughts will come and go and come again and go again. Take note of what comes and move on to the next breath. Don’t attempt to make it a story. Just let it be. Let the thoughts, the sensations, the breath just be. It takes as long as it takes and every day is different. Stay the course and allow yourself the gift of experiencing the space, the freedom and the transformation that is yours. Just sit and breathe. I quote Ram Dass, “be here now.” Find your seat literally and internally. Even more shall be revealed.