Love Serve Meditate Realize

Friday, Mar 01, 2013 I Did It My Way

At the studio, students often ask Marydale how to meditate. Over the years, this question has come up again and again in our gatherings, classes, and workshops, so there’s obviously a lot of confusion surrounding the topic. We begin and end each yoga class with a brief meditation, which usually involves sitting quietly, but what happens internally during that time is unique to each individual.

Marydale is dedicated to her morning meditation and never misses a day, no matter how busy she is, tired she may be, or sick she feels. She has learned that the renewal she receives from her practice is the equivalent of a full night’s sleep, a powerful boost to her immune system, and a Universal manager who makes the many tasks ahead flow efficiently throughout her day.

In an effort to receive these kinds of benefits for myself, I have spent years trying to commit to a meditation practice, but I’ve met with frustration, disappointment, and even anger along the way. After numerous hours spent trying to quiet my mind by concentrating on my breathing, a candle flame, a mandala, or a sound in the room, I developed a paradoxical condition whereby I became agitated and restless before I even sat down. Attempting to relax my body and focus my wandering mind became a more difficult task with each session and I began to resent my practice more and more until I finally gave up on it.

Since beginning work at the studio, I have participated in the Yoga & Meditation class each Monday and Thursday night. However, my dirty little secret was that, when the class would sit in meditation, I would just let my mind wander to pleasant thoughts without making any attempt to focus. If I found my mind dwelling on problems of the day or something unpleasant, I would just refocus on something positive. This practice became very fun for me and I looked forward to the moments in class when we’d sit in silence and I could “play”.

I began to engage in this mental exercise at the beginning and end of every yoga class, while the other students, I assumed, were engaging in “real” meditation. I found it so pleasurable that I started doing it at home and during stolen moments throughout the day. I would just sit, take a couple of deep breaths, and think happy thoughts. These thoughts covered everything from things I was looking forward to buying, a delicious meal I’d just had or was about to have, something funny I’d seen on TV, a happy memory, a vacation I was planning or dreamed of taking, a book I’d read, or just pure fantasy. The positive feelings these thoughts summoned stayed with me long after I opened my eyes. Over time, I noticed that I was feeling better physically and things in many areas of my life were falling into place almost effortlessly.

In a recent Yoga & Meditation class, Marydale asked each of us if we were taking time every day to meditate. When she got to me, I decided to come clean. I sheepishly confessed that I was a fraud and told the class what I’d been doing during the time we were supposed to be meditating. Marydale surprised me by saying that there is no one way to meditate and people need to find what works for them. She essentially said that what I’d been doing was a form of meditation and that the important thing was that I’d committed to it every day and was receiving benefits from my practice.

I felt completely liberated! While I’d thought I was an imposter and a cheat, I was actually meditating—my way. The primary thing to remember is that taking time each day to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of life, get quiet, slow your breathing, and release resistant thoughts will give you benefits that far exceed the time it takes to engage in your practice, whatever that practice may be for you. So don’t be intimidated or confused by meditation, and don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Whether you sit in lotus and focus on your breathing or sit quietly in a chair and think happy thoughts, commit to a daily practice…and do it your way.


posted by Kirsten K.