In an attempt to be more mindful this year, I booked and followed through my first meditation session on Meetups in Perth
I had always been a little curious about meditation and how it had the ability to change lives but apart from the 3 to 5 minute sessions before / after a yoga class, this was the first time I had actually attempted to sit in a leg folded palms on thighs position for a considerable amount of time.
What I really wanted to write about though were the little things that became BIG things that crafted my first encounter with meditation. The many thoughts that engulfed my mind and the feelings that engulfed my senses. If you are in a place where you are unsure, I hope this helps you in your journey with meditation:
1. Pins and Needles in my Legs
The first and possibly most distracting thing about my meditation session was that I could not find the proper seated position to stop my legs from going numb. Coming into a cross legged position led to pins and needles in my feet within the first couple of minutes. I tried placing my right feet above my left thigh and switched after a while. Nothing worked in the beginning and for a good 10 minutes I was wriggling my legs around to find the most comfortable position that I could. It worked eventually, in a miraculous moment, I found a position where my legs just decided to go into zen zone so that the rest of my body could relax. I took note of that position for future practice purposes.
Some further reading up led me to this which I might try as I begin my journey of daily meditation:
What worked for me: My breakthrough came when I went on a retreat and the teacher showed me how to prop myself up with cushions and blocks so I could sit with proper elevation and support. Because we were meditating all the time on that 14-day retreat and I was finally sitting in correct alignment thanks to the props, my spine got stronger. I’ve never had problems since!
– Brett Larkin, yoga and meditation teacher
but if you have any other suggestions on how to overcome this with or without props, please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear / read about it!
2. The Thing about a Straight Back
It is emphasized that during meditation, the back needs to be straight so there is a straight line of energy from the hips to the crown of the head. Most form of meditations practice this and the one I went to certainly placed an importance on it. However, not everyone can automatically assume the position of a straight spine. Lifestyle habits, work routines, physical imbalances may cause individual variations in how long you can keep a straight spine and how straight it should be. I certainly struggled with this during my session as well, thankfully I was allowed to lean slightly against the back of a sofa while sitting grounded on the floor.
It was great because I could feel which areas in my body were particularly tensed and perhaps a little imbalanced. My shoulders and neck for instance were slouched inwards at some point because I spend a considerable amount of time in the day on my computer. Although it bothered me at first, because I wanted to know that I had the healthiest body that I could, it was great to be aware and it felt OK to lean against a sofa because I knew that in that moment I did not have to be perfect.
Reading this article (link here) helped me understand the postures a little further but again, if you have any tips that helped in your journey please leave me a comment!
3. Calming my Thoughts Down
Yep! I drew this one.
These were literally some of the thoughts that kept emerging to the forefront of my mind. Once struggling with the physical distractions stopped, the taunting mental distractions began. It was fast. Ferocious. And just went on and on. From thinking about all the things I had to do for the day to how my armpits had started perspiring to what I was even supposed to be thinking of, in that moment of silence my mind was anything but still.
The person who hosted the meditation for the day mentioned that it was alright to let thoughts come and go as long as you were not attaching yourself to them and letting them manifest into deeper thoughts. The point of focus was the tip of the head and so with all the inner resilience that I could gather I first began to focus on my breath and then I paid attention to the top of my head. I remember watching this interesting YouTube video with a Buddhist monk, attaching the video below which might help with focusing on the breath. I found it to be a simple trick for my busy mind:
4. Time Ticking Away
At first it was more of a how long is the going to last time ticking concern. Settling both the body and the mind down required a bit of commitment and I was on the fence on whether I was prepared to sit still for the entire half hour session. It helped that I was not by myself and there was a whole group of people committed to the session together, that made throwing the towel in a lot harder.
After a while it it became a how much time do I have left concern. After going through all the effort of keeping still and calming everything down, I was intent on making sure that there was still enough time to go deeper into the meditation and not have it end abruptly. And towards the end it became a OK now just stop the clock and never let this end sort of feeling. Once I was in a relaxed enough stage, I felt myself completely let go and that feeling was different to anything that I had experienced in the past.
5. Having Expectations
I considered that first session to be enriching and powerful and I was determined to continue the act of resetting myself on a daily basis. It has been four days since I have been meditating on my own now ever since the first session. I have achieved that sense of euphoria again once of all four days. Perhaps some days I have sat down to meditate with the intention of achieving that same feeling again. That was the main difference between my first session and the ones that followed. I had absolutely no expectations of what I was going to feel during my first session. And that made a world of difference. It has not been long but moving forward I resolve to sit in meditation without any expectations because every day is different and as such the experiences do not have to be alike.
Picture credit : Main featured image from The Sydney Morning Herald
All other pictures take you to the source when you click on them.