When I first started meditating, my inner skeptic and perfectionist flared up. Was I doing it right? Which type of meditation should I do? I don’t have time for this! How can I fit it into my schedule? Will people think I’m weird?! Then during the years of yo-yo meditating, I questioned which was the right type of meditation for me. It took a while to start a regular meditation practice that I felt good about. Yep…at points I literally felt guilt that I was doing the wrong type of meditation (still working through my Irish Catholic guilt). To help you avoid the same experience I had, below I share the four questions that blocked my commitment to regular meditating and what I’ve learned since.
1 – Am I doing it right?
Personally I got really hung up on this one. I wanted a voice to tell me, you’re doing it right! But ultimately it’s not a quiz. There’s not an answer that pops up on a computer screen telling you that you’ve passed!
What’s supposed to be happening right now, I wondered? Nothing? Something? Are these thoughts normal? Why do they keep coming? I thought this was supposed to be peaceful? Thoughts will come. It’s normal. When you catch yourself thinking about it, release the thought and re-center. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
To understand the experience of it as you’re just starting out, I’d recommend following a guided mediation. It takes the pressure off of wondering if you’re doing it right. An expert leads the way! Personally I like the Chopra meditation series (the recent Energy of Attraction series was amazing).
Another technique for meditation newbies that I’d recommend is doing one using your breath. With breath work, I breathe in a feeling I want to have (peace, love, calm – anything!) and breathe out something I’m trying to release (exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, overwhelm). Sending the air down to my belly, feeling my belly expand and then sending it back up. Try it for ten minutes. I always feel an energy shift after that meditation.
2 – Will people think I’m weird?
Maybe. But who really cares if it makes you feel better? When you feel good, others’ judgments will hold less weight on you. And ultimately when you’re feeling better, it’s noticeable. People in your life are going to be happy for you. If they’re not, it has nothing to do with you. Some people feel threatened by others making positive choices. Roll with it. It’s like the friend trying to force-feed you cookies after you’ve lost a few pounds. Please feel crappy about yourself like the rest of us do!
On the other hand, you may be pleasantly surprised. More often than not when I share my latest out-there-adventure, it’s met with curiosity. There’s often someone with an interest in what I’m discussing who might not have had the courage to bring it up themselves. It builds connection with others. It gives them a platform to explore an interest of theirs.
3 – How can I find time to meditate?
Asked this same question, I once heard a spiritual author say, “do you have time to be happy?” For me, it kind of stuck. It’s that simple. The research shows that people gain happiness from meditating. If you make the time for meditating, you will feel happier. You will be more patient, productive, creative and connected. So make the choice to take the time to be happy – meditate!
If you think you don’t have the time, you need meditation more than someone who does have the time! Years ago I told myself I didn’t have the time. It wasn’t true. I was simply prioritizing unhealthy habits over positive ones. You can find 5-10 minutes in your day like I eventually did.
For me it requires discipline, commitment and planning, just like a workout routine. At first I had to schedule it into my day to make it happen. Now that I’m hooked on the benefits of it, I don’t have to be that rigid. I know I’ll end up doing at some point during the day or night.
One tip – cut out an hour of TV one night a week and meditate. You will feel completely refreshed the next day! I love doing long meditations on Thursday nights if I’m feeling exhausted from the week. By the next morning my energy has completely returned. Instead of being low energy on Friday, I feel vibrant. (It took years for me to work up to an hour-long meditation though so be realistic in your meditation goals.)
4 – What kind of meditation should I do?
This tripped me up for a while. I was trained in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and felt like I was cheating on it whenever I did another kind. With TM, you are trained do the TM style for 20 minutes twice a day. But, I liked other types of meditations also and felt like I was losing them by giving them up. I stressed out about which was the right kind for me to do. Kind of silly considering meditation is supposed to reduce my stress! In the end, while I learned a lot from TM, and would highly recommend it to anyone, I now blend different styles of meditation.
I made the choice to inject some fun and intuition into my meditation practice. Meaning, no meditation is going to harm me, and it’s fun to have options to choose from. I’m not an eat-the-same-thing-every-day type of person. Just as I need variety in my diet, I also need variety in my meditations.
Now I’m comfortable listening to my needs. If it’s inspiration, I’ll listen to a guided one. If it’s reconnecting with self, I’ll do a simple breathing one or TM. If it’s increasing my spiritual connection, I do one that connects me with my spirit guides or higher self. If my energy feels low, I do a chakra clearing one. Those are my favorites, but there are plenty of others for you to choose from and experiment with. As you experiment, check in with yourself and ask – how do I feel after? That’s the best way to know if a particular type is right for you.