When I was first introduced to the idea of mediation I was just out of college and in New York City. There was so much energy- and still you could find an apartment without 6 roommates. My life was alive 24 hours a day. I wrote my first novel fueled by Dunkin Donuts iced coffees and cream, Marlboro Lights and a few salads every day. It wasn’t the healthiest time, but my life was tuned to creation.
Given I was flying from party to event to occasional actual jobs from time-to-time, I had no space for real rest. After about 6 months, that lack of brain quiet caught up with me. I found more ways to check out of reality, and piled more on the ones I had… It was all so glamorous and enviable that I seemed to have discovered some mystical life portal.
Except: I had no desire to create anything.
A few reality checks- like needing to pay rent and having family members suspect that I was losing my grasp on reality- and I stumbled into the Jivamukti Center in Soho for a meditation.
It was all purple. We sat cross-legged. I struggled to keep my eyes closed and not sleep. I struggled to follow along with the instructions to focus on one thing in my mind. The air was full of the strongest incense. The deep breathing was a chore in itself.
I coould barely sit still.
That’s when I know I need to quiet my mind and reset my body the most- when something as simple as this is such a war.
Are you waging a war with spinning thoughts every time you try to get quiet?
I persisted. Life fell back together where it was falling apart.
I’ve come to see that we all need some form of meditative space in life. True quiet. Letting go of the day. Letting go of everything. And the harder it is at first, perhaps the more we need it!
Lately I’ve returned to my need for this calm space in my own mind.
I struggled. Me vs. Things To Do.
Do you know that one?!
Because I know how much it helps every aspect of life, I found a few ways to make my own not-too-fancy practice of meditation (I sit on a cushion, put on a you tube meditation music track, close my eyes and breathe deeply, sinking into the experience) really work well for me.
I’m not a meditation teacher, but I recommend all of you reach out and check out my friend Charlie Knowles because he is the best meditation teacher on the planet as far as I’m concerned. He glows with presence.
I am a space-shaper, so today is all about how I got my own space shaped to help me sink into medtation instead of fighting it every step of the way.
8 Ways To Create Sacred Space In Your Life To Meditate
When we meditate we let go of all the energy that disturbs our peace of mind and, hopefully, get to a place of calm. It is a way to transform our mind and thoughts – moving from an onslaught of negative and irrational ideas into clarity and balance. Meditation can help you sleep better, relieve anxiety, reduce stress, and eliminate worry. It’s life-changing for sure.
If you are meditating, but aren’t experiencing a positive change, you may want to shift your space and your attitude in the process. Here are some tips to set yourself up to zone out and check in!
- Take a seat you love: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and spiritual leader believes it is important to be comfortable with how you are sitting. Some people are more comfortable sitting upright on a couch, while others may prefer sitting on a pillow on the floor. If you lay down, as is my experience, this might help you to fall asleep! I like sofa cushions on the floor as my go-to seat, but you can also set up some floor pillows for a more supportive seat.
- Embrace sensory richness. There’s a reason so many bog spaces of “spirit” burn incense. It stimulates the senses and helps awaken energy that’s blocked in your body. The most potent “burn” I’ve found is frankinscence resin. HERE’s more on burning it. Of course, a non-toxic candle or an incense stick will do as well!
- Stop judging yourself. This is easier said than done, but it’s a huge conduit towards achieving the benefits of meditation since the idea is to come to a place of peace. My “mental war” was a hard one to break free of and it wasn’t won by conquering… it was won by surrendering. Judgment can cause worry and stress, which is opposite effect of that you want. As far as I know, there’s no really WRONG way to meditate, except to take time out of your day to spin into self-condemnation.
- Breathe In Fresh Ways: An article by Zen Habits suggests that you focus on your breathing, counting one as you inhale and 2 as you exhale , 3 as you inhale and 4 as you exhale… all the way to 10…then start over again. Just like a coffee table can focus a living room, some counting can keep your mind a little more centered. It does for me!
- Comfort: Make sure you are in a comfortable place and are wearing clothes that are appropriate for the temperature of the room. If you’re not comfortable, your focus can turn to your discomfort, and this will cause your thoughts to focus in on this.
- Try a new time: Here’s an example– If you’re meditating before bed and falling asleep, it may be defeating the purpose. We all go through “cycles” during the day when we are at peak times for different activities. You may do better meditating as a “coffee break” or at lunchtime. There’s no wrong time, but you can find your own best time. Don’t force anything into your day that doesn’t flow… that energy will just “force” you back and that’s not meditative!
- Music. I’ve come to love all the meant-to-open-your-chakras music online. You might not like or want to use music in your own meditation, but even ringing a bell in the room or the space around you will clear the air of stuck vibes and make it more of a flowing environment that promotes calm.
- No pressure. I say this to my clients who want to make every feng shui change to their homes at once, and I apply this to all the things I do: follow your energy. Don’t do it with pressure. Pressure to perform will kill magic. I know there are so many articles about “X # of hours of meditation…” or “THIS amount of exercise…” or “THIS much kale…” and all the miraculous benefits, but anything done with a feeling of pressure won’t bring benefits.
It’s been best for me to approach all of this meditative greatness with gratitude, as this time is a real gift. Do as much as you want. Create space in your day and space wherever you are in order to do it, and keep that space clear of clutter. When in doubt or on the go, you can always visit a park or a beach or other inspired Nature. Or… just start wherever you are. Deep breaths. Lots of flow. Let the calm greatness bubble up into your days.