There is a musical theater song by Stephen Sondheim called “Anyone Can Whistle.” The character wants to learn to let go and find the ability to whistle and be free. She sings:
Anyone can whistle,
That’s what they say-
Anyone can whistle
Any old day-
It’s all so simple:
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me why
She says that she can do everything “difficult”–even “slay a dragon,” but she needs help learning to do some of the supposedly “simple” things in life. The supposedly easy things can sometimes be the most difficult.
S0und familiar to anyone?
Many of us feel this way about meditation. We can yoga all day long. Handstands? Pssh, that’s easy. Running marathons? Easy. Speaking to a board, making a presentation, planning a party, reading a difficult book, making a new friend in the line at Starbucks, organizing our finances, you name it. Easy!
But when it comes time to sit alone with ourselves. To meditate. We freak out. We withdraw. We say “oh, I could never do that.”
I’m here to tell you that you can! Anyone can meditate…even YOU!
How to meditate in 3 easy steps:
1) Set a timer
I use the app “Yoga Timer” on my iPhone. It resonates with a nice calming ding, as opposed to the harsh beeping of your alarm clock or kitchen timer. Sit yourself somewhere comfortable. And just sit for five minutes. You don’t need a “mantra.” You don’t need to have focus. You probably will not “clear your mind.” You just need to sit and breath for five minutes and see what happens. You just need to sit somewhere comfortably (I recommend a kitchen chair with your feet firmly planted or sitting on a block or cushion comfortably–you can also use the wall behind you for support.) And just sit. Sit until the timer ends. When you want to get up. Resist. Just keep breathing. Just keep sitting. Eventually the timer will end. Then, try it again the next day. And the next. A few minutes can go a long way.
2) Take a guided meditation
Bookmark this blog for a short guided meditation from me later this week! In the interim, you can find some great guided meditations online. Yogaglo.com has a TON and your first two weeks are free. You can sort by the time you want to sit for–be it five or ten minutes, or longer. You can search for a focus you want to work on. And sometimes, having a voice GUIDE you makes all the difference in getting you started and keeping you focused.
3) Allow for failure
You are not going to be perfect, sorry to disappoint you. Your brain will wander when meditating. You may get an itchy nose. You may have fifty million thoughts and worries come up…sometimes about things you haven’t thought about in years! That’s okay. That’s normal. When you wander, just bring yourself back to the breath and your inhalation and exhalation. But *do* try to start with the best chance of success. Turn your phone off. Do not try to multi-task in your meditation! Make sure your children, spouse, roommate, knows not to interrupt you. Put on relaxing music if you live on a noisy block or feel that music helps to calm you (I like David Wagner’s gong meditations, available on itunes). Get comfortable. And find the time that is best for you. I don’t do well meditating right before bed….I end up falling asleep, even if I am sitting up! But right after yoga class, a run, or first thing in the morning when I’m still in my pajamas but have already had my morning coffee? Those times are GOLDEN. Set yourself up for success…and then let go. When your mind wanders, when thoughts come up, when you get restless, when you resist the idea of meditating, when you feel like you’re go go going when you should be calm calm calming, let it go. Meditation should never feel like a “win.” Winning is just the act of sitting down to meditate. There is no perfect meditation. There is no perfect way to meditate. So know that you won’t be perfect, but that it will be the best you can do at that moment. And then let go!
Do you have a meditation practice? What tips am I missing? Are you afraid to start? Will you start TODAY? Anyone can meditate, so why don’t you try?
This month we will celebrate weekly “Anyone can…” posts. There won’t be whistling (do you know I actually can’t whistle? I know, how crazy is that?), but there will be some other great activities in store. Be sure to like the facebook page and follow me on twitter to find out what! (And add this blog to your favorites, of course!) Stay tuned for more meditation tips, including a guided meditation from moi this week…and stick around to see what we have in store for the rest of September!