Meditation practice – so many questions, so many doubts! How to meditate? Where to do it? How to stay motivated? Summersalt Yoga founder Milda sits down with yoga teacher Vanessa Fleming and talks all these questions, gets some key pointers and finds out what meditation means to this yoga teacher.
What is meditation to you? How would you describe it to someone who has not had much or zero experience with it?
For me, meditation is a pathway to connecting with the present moment. Historically, my mind has always darted around constantly, jumping from the past to the future, and taking the highway right passed the present. So meditation doesn’t mean a perfectly quiet mind. Stillness doesn’t necessarily mean sitting still. It means tapping into something that works for you.
How do I meditate – that is a number one question people ask when suggested to try it. What key pointers could you give? Maybe a few different techniques? How often, how long, where should one meditate?
The idea of sitting still for a period of time is what most people find extremely daunting and seemingly impossible, which is completely valid and true. A person would not run a full marathon without training first. A person also would not train for a marathon without preparing the body properly, such as diet and prep exercise. Meditation is the same. Immediately going in to sit is just not going to produce results if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
– Start off small. Anything can be meditation.
– Try sitting in a room with no TV, no phone, no computer, and bring your breakfast, lunch, dinner with you. Or even a snack. There is no distraction, just you and your food. Take a bite, and feel that bite. Find the flavors, the texture. How does your tongue react. How does your throat feel. This is the beginning process known as mindfulness.
– Another quick technique to start the process (it’s just a start, by no means will this bring all the answers) – bring your gaze to the tip of your nose. This is called Drishti in Sanskrit. Just stare at this point, see how long you can hold it. Start small! There is no reason to go sit right away. That will come.
Meditating is hard!! That’s another familiar sentence. How to not lose motivation?
It is hard! Know that. And know that there is no right or wrong. Acknowledgement is the first step. I once had someone say to me, “meditation is like sitting on a frozen lake with a fishing hole cut in the ice. You sit on the ice, sliding and sliding, trying to land on the hole. You come short, you overshoot. And then one time you’ll get to the hole and land it, and then you fall through the hole.” Acceptance is key to not losing motivation. It will always change shape and form. Some days are easier, some are harder. Find moments to embrace, even if it’s just 2 minutes.
When do I get to reap the benefits of a constant meditation practice?
There is no formula or time-frame. You can witness the effects after your first attempt. There are many different factors going in to your practice. From your body, to health, to the mental mind stuff. And unfortunately, you can’t be told when it will start to make sense. For me, it was like the light bulb turned on. It was so simple to see, once that light bulb came on. But I can tell you to try this or try that till I’m blue in the face. It will not create a timeline. The only thing I can say is this. The faster you can begin to unlearn what you know and start to let go of a goal, accept there is no goal, you’ll start to see what unfolds.
How long did it take you to master meditation? Can you actually measure if you are good or bad in meditating?
I am far from a master. I am merely a practitioner. I don’t know that I’ll ever “master” meditation, but it’s a practice that can not be ignored or not taken seriously. I wouldn’t even say that I’m good at it. It’s immeasurable for me. I don’t always commit to the time. I have overshot and come short to the fishing hole many times. I often let my own ego get in my way and it hinders my meditation because I simply don’t do it when my ego is full on. So I’m working on shedding my ego. And I take moments to just be. I look at flowers, or I listen to birds, and in that I find meditation. I dance. Dance is my meditation. Will I ever be an enlightened being? It’s not my goal. But I am on the pathway to empowerment. To be the arbiter of my own destiny. To be…here. Now. And only right now. The past is fabricated and the future isn’t real. I feel my feet, I feel my face, and I feel the breath, and I’m alive. Only right now.