I have re-booted my personal meditation practice lately. My yoga/mindful-movement has been a daily thing for me for ages, but when it comes to sitting in stillness and quiet, well, that has been a different and more challenging thing for me, over many years. I have been to numerous silent meditation retreats, and recently took myself on a solo retreat, and each time I gain new inspiration that truly lights up my love for meditation.
I could also interchange the phrase “sitting in quiet with myself, embracing myself in the moment as I am” with the word meditation. I could also say – gain new inspiration to befriend myself.
I have been working with the Selfhealers circle (with Nicole LePera, author of “How to do the work” and Jenna Weakland) and I decided to try making myself a “Small daily promise” to myself of 10 minutes first thing each morning of quiet meditation time. What a much nicer invitation to myself to call it a “small daily promise”! Nicole has spoken about how important it is to make it small and do-able, but also daily for the consistency.
If you have her book, check out the first chapter where she writes about her client Ally who was at a very low point and suffering from MS, when she resolved to make one small daily promise to support her health – drinking one glass of water every morning. From that small daily promise, Ally eventually went on to add in journaling, meditation, yoga, a nutrition programme….and now Ally’s MS is in remission. Nicole writes “Ally’s story shows us the power of choice. She learned that even when faced with a grim diagnosis, she had within her the power to make beneficial changes.”
From little things, big things grow!
I was scrolling through really old emails today and was about to hit the delete on this one which was a reply to a yoga student’s question about her trying to start her own meditation practice. Even though I wrote it about 8 years ago, I think it still sums up how I feel about it today….
“Don’t worry about feeling like you have your learners on with meditation! Even experienced meditators feel like that sometimes. I don’t classify myself as experienced either! Will I ever?….not sure….but I like thinking of myself as always learning. One of my teachers described to me how she went through a dark patch for a long time where meditation was a struggle every time, but she just kept persisting. Just like life, everybody has ups and downs with meditation, and the secret (not so secret) is two things – PRACTICE and NON-ATTACHMENT. These are the two guides from the “Yoga Sutras”. Practice – In other words, it’s the consistency of practice, keep going, and continue to keep going, know that the consistency of practice is like building muscles from working-out in the gym…..and non-attachment means to not focus on judging things as either ‘good’ nor ‘bad’, but just know that either way everything has something we can learn. Remember in class how I often say you may wish to ‘observe’ your breath, or to ‘observe’ how you are feeling, but without judgement?…
“Non-attachment is NOT the same thing as detachment. If you think about doing a yoga posture and you feel an intense stretch in your leg or your hip, you are not trying to ignore the sensation or push it away (that would be detachment). Instead, you observe the sensation and accept that as part of your experience in that moment. And there is no need to judge it. Same with meditation – you may have a wonderful experience of sitting in meditation (ie. you judge it as ‘good’) and the next time you sit, you hope that the experience repeats; however, that would be attachment to the experience….so instead to practice non-attachment you accept that every single experience of meditation will be different, and you embrace each experience as unique and don’t judge.”
One thing I have also found really interesting for quite a while is that some people who practice Yoga don’t really meditate much at all, maybe never. Others who practice Yoga meditate a lot. And then there are people all in-between the “never” and the “consistently”. I used to feel a bit judg-ey about those people who practiced yoga but didn’t meditate. Well, I have let go of that judgement now: actually it’s an individual personal choice. And also, to me, meditation and yoga are the same thing but different ways of moving/not-moving, different ways of stillness/non-stillness.
It’s not what you call it that matters…. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet.
Keeping my small daily promise to myself makes a difference. This small kindness to myself first thing, then I have noticed the other “stuff” that happens after that, whether easy or challenging or however, is more like bouncing on a trampoline rather than getting bogged in mud.
It’s also faaaaaaarrrrrrr from perfect. The more I let myself (and my meditation time) be imperfect, the more I can accept myself as I am…and accept my meditation practice as it is.
Here’s some books that might interest you:
Meditation Secrets for women – Camille Maurine & Lorin Roche
Meditation for the Love of it – Sally Kempton
How to do the Work – Dr Nicole lePera
And a Podcast with Nicole and Jenna called the Selfhealers Soundboard
Interested in small group Yoga sessions with me? We have just started term 1. Join us on zoom from wherever you are in the world. Five Yoga sessions, including Yoga Nidra, on zoom each week. Three morning sessions and two evening sessions. My timezone is Melbourne AEDT.