Meditation: A Word.

Last year I began to expand my meditation practice beyond my mat by adding it into my morning routine.  Honestly, sometimes it felt overwhelming.  There were mornings where I would wake up still tired and the idea of sitting upright and cross legged seemed exhausting.  So, I wouldn’t do it.  I had it in mind that meditation had to look a certain way in order for it to work.  Which made for a 50% success rate of it actually happening.  I recently discovered a new definition (well new to me, the book was written decades ago) of meditation which has given me a brand new perspective and a bit more freedom.

“Meditation is simply a word.  It is a word that describes a particular mood or state of consciousness that your bodymind enters at certain times throughout your life.  This mood, feeling, or state usually occurs when you are totally and selflessly involved in an activity to the point that there is little or no separation between you and what you are doing.  At this moment you are so absorbed in simply “being” that your consciousness becomes tightly focused on the activity at hand, most of your usual mental chatter ceases, physical distraction and stress diminish, and the passage of time seems to be irrelevant.”

Bodymind, Ken Dychtwald

There’s a tendency to over complicate things.  Especially when it comes to “self-care” practices.  Meditation has become a common theme when individuals discuss the daily practices contributing to their happiness and success.  Because of these correlations we look for a formula with hopes of recreating the same outcome.  Instead, we are setting ourselves up for failure because we have ignored the variables.  Not only are we completely different than the person who is classifying their interpretation of what meditation looks like, we are also different versions of ourselves everyday and throughout each day.  Those mornings where I am not as energized I instead allow myself to practice while laying in bed. With this flexibility my completion rate is nearly 100%.  Some days I have the space to meditate for a half hour, others only five minutes. Sometimes I have specific intentions and add chanting, sometimes I just breathe. Sometimes I only do it once, sometimes twice.  By taking the pressure off myself to be “perfect” every time I have naturally increased the consistency of my practice.

Dychtwald’s definition also allows the idea of meditation to expand beyond stillness and take forms of movement.  I first thought of athletes, or anyone who is involved with a sport regularly, when I read it.  Presence is achieved when you are doing something you love and you’re focused on nothing but the mechanics of your body in order to create a certain response; where your weight is being placed in your feet to balance against moving waves or mountains, your shoulder alignment and stance over the tee to optimize your swing, the motion of your wrist as you direct the ball to the open spot on the court.  Even activities that aren’t as exciting but, require your undivided attention; washing dishes, folding laundry, painting the fence.  For household chores the stakes are less high and you could distract yourself with television or the radio, a podcast might be nice too, and that choice is the point...  Choose not to distract yourself.  Choose to un-complicate things and focus on one task at a time, giving it your full focus and effort.  As you’re scraping the egg remnants out of the pan notice if your mind begins to find it’s way to the future, worrying about an appointment you have later in the evening.  See if you can refocus and stay present.  While burnt eggs aren’t that entertaining it gives your mind space to enjoy a few moments of rest.

There are certain religions, cultures, etc. that do have specific guidelines and rituals regarding their meditation practices that are important to adhere to in those environments.  But, for someone just hoping to add a little bit more mindfulness into their days and is intimidated by the idea of sitting for long periods of time its okay to embrace different versions of meditation.  How you do it is not as important as actually doing it.  You get to find what works for you.