Meditation Habits

It takes time to develop a meditation habit that works for you. When I was working on my first yoga teacher training program, I learned about the benefits of meditation and I took a meditation class at the studio each week. At that point in time, I was living a life where I was either sleeping, working, or taking yoga classes for my teacher training. Meditation was something I wanted to do, but I wasn't sure where it would fit in my life. To be completely honest, if I sat down too long to meditate (even if it was just 10-15 minutes), I would begin nodding off to sleep. I felt like a failure when I tried, so to appease the perfectionist inside me I didn't often meditate. (In hindsight, I think that part of this failure was that I thought meditation meant that I had to turn my thoughts off. No one can do that. I've since learned that there is nothing wrong with thinking thoughts while meditating.)

On the first day of my 500 hour advanced yoga teacher training program, we were told that we would have to turn in diaries each class of all of the yoga and meditation practice we did each week. During that class, one of the fellow students said that she had recently celebrated one year of meditating every single day. Wow! Then I felt like a failure for not having meditated all the time. Her story did inspire me, but I was still so busy that I would work all day and just not remember to meditate sometimes. Having to restart my own one year of meditating time and time again eventually led me to giving up entirely.

Through the years, as I've tried to start this habit over and over, I've begun to learn that there isn't one right way to meditate. Some people find it very helpful to repeat a mantra over and over again, often times using their mala necklace to count 108 repetitions (a very significant number in the tradition of yoga). Others will meditate on loving kindness and compassion for all beings, also known as Metta meditation. I've experimented with Theta Meditation, which is one of the most powerful techniques that I've used (and is the style I tend to teach in the weekly meditation class at Yoga Art Space). Needless to say, I've tried many types and I've learned that it doesn't relaly help me to have too much structure when I meditate. At first I wasn't sure whether or not to feel guilty about this. But when I would have certain unstructured meditations I realized I ended just feeling so much better. This encouraged me to continue on this path.

I've come to learn that the "feel good" change that happens with meditation is very common. In Dr. Joe Dispenza's powerful book Becoming Supernatural: How Common People are Doing the Uncommon, an interesting graphic is shown, of which I created a similar representation here: