I fidgeted. My back was killing me. My eyes were fluttering, my thoughts racing with to-dos. I had an itch on my ankle I desperately wanted to scratch. I silently cursed and berated myself for thinking of my to-do list instead of the mantra. I wondered at how much time had elapsed… Surely it had been ten minutes already, and my timer must be broken. I dared to open my eyes and look at the clock: Only a minute? How the heck was I going to last for another nine minutes of this shit?!
Does this sound a bit like your meditation practice? Trust me, I hear you. Take it from me, the world’s laziest meditator, that meditation is not a walk in the park when you first start, and sometimes even now I still have those sessions of meditation where I’m like let’s just get this over with already!
You don’t need to be fancy. You don’t have to have special flowing robes, or a certain type of incense, or even a lot of space, to be able to meditate. That’s part of the beauty of meditation: you can do it almost anywhere. What you do need to have is a willingness to be consistent and put aside time each day to do it.
Here’s how to start and keep a meditation practice, even when you’re a lazy bones like me, and some unexpected bonuses that come along with a meditation practice.
The first and most important step when you are a lazy chick is motivating yourself to meditate. Once you are there on the mat, or cushion, or chair, or lying down, I promise, it will be much easier…. Sometimes getting there is the hardest part.
So, this first part (getting motivated) will not look the same for everyone. We all have our ways, and we all know where our laziness comes from… It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from outright procrastination, or another form of it entirely. For me, procrastinating on meditation takes the form of me telling myself that I simply don’t have enough time to meditate. To which I then say to myself, if you can’t find ten minutes somewhere in the day for it, you’ve got bigger problems! Find the time. I usually quickly realize that the time I use up playing frivolous mobile games would be better spent meditating!
How I motivate myself to meditate:
- Touchstones or malas – a touchstone could be a simple quartz crystal or pebble that you hold while you meditate. A mala traditionally has 108 beads on it to work while meditating, especially if you are doing a mantra meditation; each time you repeat a mantra silently in your head, you turn a bead (similar to working a rosary). You can custom order a mala to suit your esthetic sensibilities or intention (I have two, one for psychic work/intuition and the other for peace and calm). Or you can buy a simple mala made out of wooden beads, such as sandalwood. When you pick up your touchstone or your mala, that’s your physical reminder and signal to the Universe: hey, I’m sitting down to my meditation practice now!
- Make an inviting space that appeals to all the senses – including incense, nice music, noise-canceling headphones, etc. Now I know I said before that one of the beautiful things about meditation is that you can do it almost anywhere. That’s true, but in order to build consistency, first it’s best to keep it to one place. Once you have this space, don’t dismantle it! Keep it intact, so that you don’t have to recreate it each time. Each time you sit in this space, it is like a touchstone: a signal that it’s meditation time.
- Don’t overthink it. Know yourself, and know all the ways in which you convince yourself out of something. If you have the thought, “I should meditate” then that’s the time you should meditate. Don’t put it off.
- Have a set time each day. I do my meditation in the morning right after I wake up. Why? Because if I wait until the end of the work day to do it, then the day tends to “get away from me” and I don’t have the time, nor the energy, to meditate.
How to meditate:
- Find something to focus on: this can be a candle flame, your breath, a mantra, a quote, a saying, a tarot or oracle card, a rune, a mirror or bowl of water, incense smoke, or any number of things.
A nice beginning meditation is simply inhaling for a count of 5, holding for a count of 5, and exhaling for a count of 5. When breathing, take deep breaths and focus on filling up down to your belly like you are filling a vase with your breath. When exhaling, release the air from the bottom of the belly, up.
When starting out, look down and see the rise and fall of your belly, so you can see what it looks like when you are taking a nice big breath of air. You’d be surprised just how shallow our breathing can be because we don’t do it with intention!
- Focus on that thing for a predetermined amount of time. Start with 5 minutes. Don’t be too ambitious when you are beginning. If 5 minutes is too much, drop down to a minute. Try a minute first (Yeah, seriously!). Then add on time. It is easier to add on time than begin with too much and get frustrated by it.
- Keep returning to the thing you are focused on when your mind starts to wander. If you notice yourself enumerating everything you have to do after the meditation is over, or find yourself distracted by itches or pins and needles, return to the thing, such as your breath or the mantra. This is your mental touchstone within the meditation, what you grab onto when you find yourself slipping.
- When your timer dings, allow yourself one more big inhale and exhale, and open your eyes. Make sure to get up slowly and with intention, and be gentle with yourself. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself on forming a new habit of meditation, day by day!
What are the benefits of meditation?
Besides a greater sense of peace and calm, unanticipated side effects can include increased creativity and ideas popping up during your meditation. If it’s a good idea, by all means, keep a notebook and pen beside you so that when you complete your meditation, you can get those goodies down! But I caution you: don’t interrupt your meditation FOR the idea, no matter how good you think it is. Calmly tell yourself that it is not time for that, and ask the thought to come back to you at the end of your meditation. I promise: if it’s a keeper, it WILL do as you ask and reappear… As long as you ask nicely!
These moments are not unusual occurrences: some of our best ideas can seem to pop up at the most “inopportune” times: on the crapper, in the shower, handwashing dishes… pretty much every time that a piece of paper and a pen are as far away from us as they can possibly get! It ain’t Murphy’s Law why this is so: it’s what is known as the creative pause (as Racheal Cook the Yogipreneur calls it): a time in which you are daydreaming, not focused on any one thing in particular, almost the exact opposite in mental states as zoning out, however. The ahas that happen in those spaces are BECAUSE you aren’t doing anything! So too can those aha moments appear during yoga or meditation: and because of it, it seems that we do need to let our brains rest, stop overclocking ourselves, and simply BE.
Just being can cause breakthroughs.
Basically, don’t tune out. Tune IN.
Remember that you can’t get the benefits of a meditation practice without, um… practicing. As in, doing the meditation itself. I’ll admit: I am definitely the type of learner that reads about something, and then hops onto the next chapter and the next lesson, skipping over the more practical or experiential elements. But the experiential is where the meat and potatoes of meditation is. Same thing as for yoga: most of your work is done on the mat, not in an armchair reading about it. You don’t get the benefits of a yoga pose from reading about it; you get it from doing it. Same thing for meditation!
About the Author: Hilary Parry Haggerty
HILARY PARRY HAGGERTY is a tarot reader, witch, mentor, writer, editor, and teacher. She has been reading tarot for over 18 years (11 years professionally). She was the winner of Theresa Reed’s (The Tarot Lady) Tarot Apprentice contest in 2011, and has taught classes on tarot and spell-work at Readers Studio and Brid’s Closet Beltane Festival. She writes a weekly blog at her website www.tarotbyhilary.com and contributes a monthly tarot blog “Through a Tarot Lens” to www.witchesandpagans.com.