Think you can’t meditate? Think again.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 5.14.40 PM
This is what I try to envision when I meditate — a screen of static.

“I’m terrible at meditation.”

“I can’t meditate.”

“I don’t do meditation right.”

“My mind wanders too much when I try to meditate.”

Those were all things I’ve said at different points in my life. I knew people who meditated, I knew people got a lot out of meditation, I have had meditation “assignments.” But finally, finally, in taking my own journey and my own path to meditation, I’m settling into a practice.

For me, it’s like anything — it takes practice. I practice the piano to get better. If I write every day, writing is going to get easier and flow better. If I run most days a week, I’m going to be a better runner.

I’ve been meditating most mornings. I started short, just 2-3 minutes. But after a while, that became easier — those minutes went by quickly instead of plodding along like they did when I started. This morning for the first time I meditated for 5 minutes.

Yes, my mind wanders. My mind wanders on my mat, too. But instead of giving up, I bring myself back to the moment. Some days I have to do this countless times. Other days, I’m more present. Whatever is going on that day is “right.”

Another cool thing is happening: I’m viewing my Ashtanga practice as meditation rather than physical. I had always viewed it as physical — it’s a challenging and demanding practice, which takes a lot of physicality. I used to measure my progress by my strength and ability to get into poses. But lately, I am experiencing how the physical is a path to the meditation, not an end unto itself. This is bringing a new level of meaning and excitement to my practice.

What are your experiences with meditation?

Finding the sacred

sacred 1

This month I’m working on the concept of “sacred” — specifically, finding the sacred in everyday, whether it’s within or external. I’m traveling in England right now, co-leading a group of students from Minnesota State University, Mankato. I didn’t go into the trip planning to seek out the sacred, but I am noticing it all around me.

Finding the sacred has given me some precious “down” time. I’m so excited (and excitable!) when I travel and I tend to move quickly from one thing to another, just wanting to experience everything that I can and engage in as many conversations as possible. I have to remind myself to take a few quiet moments, whether it’s a morning or evening meditation or finding a quiet space.

England is rich with history, and I’ve always been drawn to the solemnity of historical places. I was talking to my friend and colleague on this trip about how the churches here just seem so much quieter than churches back home.

Here are some places that I’ve found so far:

image

Parish church on Holy Island. This wood carving by Fenwick Lawson depicts monks carrying the relics of St. Cuthbert from the island during a Viking raid.

image

Detail shot. The expression on the face is impressive.

image

Holy Island churchyard.

IMG_4294

St. Michael’s Church, Alnwick.

IMG_4284

St. Michael’s.

image

St. Lawrence Church, Warkworth.

image

St. Albin’s, Bamburgh.

image

I lit a votive at St. Albin’s.

Meditation for writers

From the wonderful Brevity blog! I’ve recently introduced meditation into my own life, so this is perfect timing. I look forward to using meditation specifically to spark creativity and help me set and achieve writing goals.

By Sweta Srivastava Vikram At the 2014 Academy Awards, Robert De Niro’s intro of the best screenplay nominees caught the attention of many. “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing”, he said, before continuing, “Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” […]

via How Meditation Can Help a Writer — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog