I have a tendency to make things way more complicated than they need to be. For years I wanted a daily meditation practice. As with most things that are good for me, I kept that inner dialogue going that I didn't have time for it. (This was not true, by the way.) Sitting in actual, intentional meditation became something I only practiced here and there, and so it was difficult.
Last Spring I roomed with my friend Dr. Melody Moore at the Yoga, Meditation and Recovery Conference at Kripalu, where I was both a participant and an assistant. Melody introduced me to Insight Timer, an app that connects meditators worldwide. There is a social networking aspect to it that I don't use-- the real value to me is the daily accountability it offers. I've been able to maintain much longer stretches of time with a daily seated practice than ever before (right now I'm on Day 55!) and it is just so easy. I set the timer for whatever length of time I have that day, usually between 10 and 30 minutes (okay... most often, 10 if I'm being honest) and I just get still, breathe, and eventually the mind does quiet. The longer I sit, the easier it is to quiet the mind-- seems counterintuitive, but for me, it takes time for all that "mindstuff" to fade away. Then the timer goes off, I'm informed by the brilliant minds at Insight Timer how many people were also meditating at the same time (usually between 1600-5500 people globally! what a community) and I start my day.
The results are usually immediate. Following a sit, for the first minute or so, I'm a little spacy. But then things come into clear focus. I feel more present, embodied (meaning, less in my head and more in my body), aware, and available for whatever the day might bring. And this state seems to last throughout the day, if I let it. It gives me choices: to speak or not speak, to act or not act-- it even gives me the choice to notice thoughts before their power has a chance to derail my day. Once tapped into, that frequency is easier to access. And all I had to do was sit?!?
I think there's a misconception that meditation and yoga are all about bliss. I think it's the opposite. I think these practices are most useful when we use them as tools for presence, empowerment and awareness. I didn't make that up-- it's in the literature both ancient and modern. More about that in a future post: checking in vs. checking out.