Pensive thought: Tips for Beginning Meditation

Pensive

There’s a two-fold plan to success as I understand it: intention and perseverance. All the time I have spent at the gym everyday is my effort at living intentionally, and the relentless job-application process is teaching me perseverance. So why do I still feel like something is missing?

In a post I made earlier this week about yoga (check it out here) I wrote about learning to trust the flow, because even moving slowly is still moving through the stretch. Another aspect of yoga (and intention/perseverance) is rest. This is a much harder topic for me to tackle. If anything is on my mind, my first instinct is to do something about it, or begin planning an active, goal-oriented strategy.

Sometimes, like Entry-Level now, I don’t know what the goal is. What do I want? It’s impossible to move through the ocean of possibilities like I drove down the road of standard education. It requires thought, restful thought.

Pensive thought: deep, and heavy as its etymology suggests.

Life, my career and ambitions, my fears- those abstractions are a wide void, that need time and freedom to cross. Learning to be patient and forgiving with myself as I make the strides toward the other side has not been easy, but meditating daily has given me the space and time needed to build mental strength. Giving oneself freedom to explore ambition is just like swimming to me, a test of strength with constant, cool resistance. There are so many parts of myself that don’t open easily, like the admittance of past faults and failures.

 

Taking the time and space for daily meditation is a lifestyle change that can be easy, however. I’ve compiled a list as a guide to the very beginnings of meditation, in a way that is religion/spirituality impartial and requires minimum effort as you wade into your mind.

First, finding a spot that is spacious and distraction-free is a must. For me, this is outside, since I love rooftop meditation! It doesn’t need to be outside though, as long as the space is not too busy. If there are signs on the walls, you will read them. If there are people in the room, you will notice them. Ideally, the space should give your thoughts freedom to explore, unguided by what surrounds you.

Avoid harsh sounds. This can be difficult if you are in a city, so putting on headphones is fine, but try to find music this is ambient. Even western classical music can be distracting, but there are plenty of soundscape tracks on the internet to give yourself more of a neutral mental atmosphere.

Make sure the temperature is ideal. When you are quiet and thoughtful, you mind wants to give you something active to think about so it will turn to your physical body. Make sure if there is anything that will make you uncomfortable, you prepare for it before getting to meditation.

You don’t have to close your eyes! Although it helps, closing my eyes sometimes makes me too aware of sounds or stressed muscles in my body. Sometimes it can be equally relaxing to let your eyes wander, and get used to their environment. This can also help if you tend to fall asleep in meditating (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, rest is rest!).

Give yourself a set length of time, but you don’t need to be married to it. I suggest dipping a toe in with five minutes. Sticking to a timeline for meditating can be stressful for those of us with anxiety, and that is counterproductive!

Of course, these guidelines are general, but that’s because meditation is obviously different for everyone and you can get different things out of it by altering the practice. You can and should be pensive sometimes, because there’s so much strength to be built with heavy thinking. There’s an ocean to cross.

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