Most perfectionists I work with want to know how to be a good meditator, or, my personal favorite, how to meditate right. And to be completely honest, that’s what I wanted to know when I started. I wanted to know how to sit, what to think about, and how it should feel. I thought I needed to measure the success of my efforts in a tangible way.
When I worked up the courage to ask one of my first meditation teachers if I was practicing right, he said, “I can’t answer that for you.”
Now, if you’re still struggling with the chronic stress of perfectionism, you know that’s a very frustrating answer. 😆 Nothing makes you want to crawl into a hole more than working up the courage to ask a question only to get an answer you have absolutely no fricken idea what to do with. Sometimes I look back at that version of me and want tell her to chill the fuq out and loosen the reins a little, but on days like today, when I’m clear-minded and completely accepting of where I am, I know what that woman really needed was room to consider wtf it all meant.
That teacher couldn’t give me an answer because we have to discover meditation for ourselves. And like all good things in life, that means you have to practice.
Movies and media, in general, show us a lot of images of what a meditator looks like. Before I started practicing myself, I totally envisioned someone sitting in an uncomfortable pretzel shape chanting “om,” and that can be what meditation looks like, but let’s set the record straight: You don’t have to do any yoga postures to practice mindfulness or subscribe to a certain religion.
How TO BECOME A GOOD MEDITATOR: MY APPROACH
Mindfulness is more about what we’re doing with our minds than with our bodies. I mean, duh, right? It’s in the name MINDfulness. The point is that you can practice mindfulness in any position – sitting, standing, walking, or lying down. You can even practice when you’re chopping vegetables or brushing your teeth.
All it comes down to is finding a comfortable place to be. Once you’re there, make sure your back is straight (I like to practice with my back against the wall sometimes for more support when practicing seated meditations).
The trick: Lengthen the spine but don’t force yourself to be too rigid.
One way I cue my clients to help them find this happy medium is to remain alert yet relaxed; so we can lengthen the spine to be alert, and then relax the shoulders, hands, feet, jaw, and space between your eyebrows. This way, we have a stable, relaxed posture.
If you practice lying down and you notice that you find it hard to stay awake, change your meditation posture. If you have a physical injury or are just trying to sneak meditation into a spare moment during the day, there are no rules saying you can’t practice in your favorite chair. Make adjustments to personalize your practice.
SOME MEDITATIONS TO PRACTICE:
Do you have a favorite app? Because if you do, by all means, use those meditations. But if you need a place to start, these are my favorite practices to lead (in order from shortest to longest):
Personally, I’ve been leaning into that last practice (see above) a whooole bunch these days, but I hope these practices help you invite more peace into your holiday prep too.