NOW is the time is the answer. What was the question? Read on.
Here is the secret to starting and maintaining a home meditation practice.
(Ok, it's not REALLY a secret.)
These are three questions I get asked all the time by my students:
“How do I keep my home meditation practice going?”
“How do I START a home meditation practice?”
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just falls apart?”
These questions have a common theme.
Here are some answers that work for me. I'll bet they will work for you, too. And if not, try something else. There is plenty of information out there.
The blanket answer is “you’re trying too hard”.
You’re putting so much pressure on yourself to meditate at a certain time of the day, for a certain amount of time, and in a certain way.
What I have discovered over the years, and I addressed in a previous post, is that meditation is more and easier than you may think.
If you have a place you can designate for meditation, that’s great.
If you think about it your entire home is an opportunity to meditate.
Try the sofa, the lounge chair, the chaise outside on the patio, a soft patch of grass in your yard, or anywhere you can put a blanket or cushion.
I’ve even sat on my carpeted stairs, in a dining chair, on the floor on the rug or on the porch stoop for a quick meditation.
Then there is the question and pressure of how long you need to meditate?
I say as long as you can meditate.
I am the last person to ever tell you if you don’t meditate for X amount of time, or more, that it is fruitless or you might as well not bother.
If ANYONE tells you that kindly excuse yourself.
I went to a 4-day silent meditation retreat run by a very well known organization. The silent part was wonderful. Eating outdoors in silence, staying silent in the residence, and meditating in silence was a gift.
What I couldn’t wrap my mind around was that I was instructed to meditate in one way and one way only. I was instructed that this was the only correct way to meditate.
It didn’t feel right then and it doesn’t feel right now.
I certainly don’t instruct my students, or any teachers I train, that it’s my way or the highway.
Needless to say, I enjoyed my time at the retreat but I have never returned.
Meditation looks and feels many, many different ways.
How do I know this?
Through trial and error as a practitioner and through trial and error as a teacher.
I see what works for a broad cross-section of students over and over again.
I have been meditating for 27 years and I have gotten as much out of a 5-minute meditation as a two-hour meditation.
Now to answer the first question:
“How do I keep my home practice going?”
Do you like how good you feel during a meditation, yoga or Tai Chi class?
Grab that good feeling, take what you have learned in class, or through research online, and plunk yourself down in a chair, on a mat or in the grass. Without pressuring yourself replicate what you can.
If you have a semi-regular practice at home, that's great. Find other times to do it outside of what you already are accomplishing.
Once something is a habit - and it takes about 21 days to form a habit - your mind, and body will crave it. That goes for good and not-so-good habits.
I’ll tack my meditation sessions onto the end of my workouts. I’ll meditate in between chapters of a book I am reading. If I am having my tea on the lanai, which happens to face a lake, it is SO easy to float right into a meditation - birds chirping, fish splashing, water flowing - those are focus points for a relaxing meditation.
Binge-watching a show on Netflix? Close your eyes and do deep breathing between episodes!
Of course, it would be optimum if you carved out time to sit in meditation and formally meditate.
Choose a quiet room without much noise or traffic
Pick a chair that you like, one that is comfortable enough to sit in for a while. I guarantee the next thing you know you will have been sitting for 30 minutes. It flies by.
I did a lot of chanting and mantra at the beginning of my meditation journey. It kept me really present and engaged and I couldn’t THINK while I was repeating the words.
Pop in a chanting CD, or stream one.
Do you want to light a candle? DO IT!
Incense? Why not?
Set the mood.
When you set the mood, and make yourself a space, it will have more meaning for you. It puts you in the meditation frame of mind.
Question number 2:
“How do I start a home practice?”
This is totally up to you.
But starting is 50% of doing home meditation.
TODAY IS THE DAY!
Do some research, take some classes.
Try things on and see what fits.
Bring them ALL home.
After that, experiment with different types of meditations, in different locations in your home, for different amounts of time.
You may also do one technique for a while and then try something new.
The point is TRY IT and try it long enough to see what works for you.
Don’t just meditate once for 5 minutes, say “this isn’t working, I still have thoughts and I'm not getting any more peaceful” and then quit.
That’s not meditating.
That is letting your brain dictate to you:
“What shall I make for dinner?”
“Did I mail that bill?”
…and on and on and on.
That’s the brain fighting YOU making IT more peaceful.
Your brain is used to go, go, go. It even gets used to chaos.
That means you need to retrain your brain.
When your brain and mind is more peaceful then your body will be more peaceful, too.
Meditating at the VERY least is being in the moment and focusing on something:
A mantra, a chant, a quote, a candle, water flowing, birds flying, petting your dog, music, the wind blowing, deep breathing, and YES, even silence
…it’s pretty limitless.
Let your brain get used to being relieved of the watch for a few moments. You will continue to have thoughts, but let go of the activity of THINKING for a while.
It’s a thought, BIG DEAL. It will be there when you are done. And if not, most likely it will return. OR not.
Find opportunities during your day to get into a meditative state.
Snippets of time will turn into moments and then minutes and the next thing you know you will be in that state of mind for many minutes, hours, days - for LIFE!
And last, but certainly not least, here’s my answer to question number 3:
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just stalls?”
Time, commitments, family, work, illness, vacations - YOU NAME IT - interfere with us bringing home what we do in class.
SO here is where the three questions overlap.
Take the time, make the time, schedule it, carve it out…
How badly do you need it?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, I imagine that you need it.
It’s not that hard to sit in a class and follow what a teacher instructs.
What IS hard is to make meditation, in its many forms, a priority along with brushing your teeth, doing the laundry, preparing meals, etc.
Your mental, emotional, physical, psychological and (if it applies to you) spiritual health is just as important as anything else that you tend to.
Jump right in.
NOW is a good time.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
There are so many quotes I love about living an authentic life.
“You do you.” (My son laid that one on me a little while ago. It was intense. Wisdom comes at all ages.)
“Be the best you that you can be.”
Liza Minelli said:
“I would rather present a first-rate version of myself than a second-rate version of Mama.”
Quote above the Temple of Apollo at Delphi”
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
*My comment on this is: if you realize you ARE enough, you are truly rich.
And here is one by a more modern day philosopher:
“If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know your nature. If you don’t know your nature, you don’t know where to exist. By knowing your nature, knowing yourself, you know what to be and how to live. And that only comes from knowledge of self, knowing yourself.”
AND to quote The Who:
“ Who are you? Who the fuck are you?”
How long does it take to know yourself?
Which would you choose?
What DOES it take to know ourselves?
Do we really want to know?
I can only answer that question for myself.
What it has taken for me and what it may take for you may be VERY different.
We invent ourselves depending on our circumstances and the road we are traveling.
We also reinvent ourselves when we see that “persona” isn’t getting as much attention as it once did; or none at all.
We morph ourselves into what we THINK or believe is needed for our job, our relationships, and our social media.
What if everyone was BRAVE enough to drop the pretense, drop what you THINK others want and just be ourselves?
First, do we have any idea who we are?
What really makes us tick?
What are our strengths, our weaknesses?
Are we willing to even admit that we have weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, foibles, flaws (both internally and externally), shortcomings and imperfections?
We are very happy to reveal the GREAT things about ourselves and our lives, but what about the not-so-great things?
In your life and your chosen profession, career, or art there will ALWAYS be someone who is better looking, more accomplished and more talented than you; AND there will ALWAYS be someone who is not as good looking, less accomplished and less talented than you.
That is just life.
We have put ourselves under so much pressure, to look a certain way, feel a certain way, to make sure we present ourselves in a certain light to others, AND not to age.
Ok, if you aren’t a nice or good person, and you are WILLING to admit that, then there is some work that has to be done BEFORE you can be on the way to self-discovery.
It is a part of self-discovery to admit you are a flawed or a difficult person, BUT the real you and the good you IS in there. It may be covered up in pain, hurt, anger and feeling devalued.
BUT IT IS IN THERE!
PLUS, the concept that anyone can be calm, cool and collected all the time isn’t reality.
I have seen the most self-actualized, present, and focused person lose it.
We have emotions.
Many of us have A LOT of emotions.
There is nothing wrong with emotions. It’s when those emotions control you, and detour you from living a more healthy life, that we need to examine them.
Is happy all the time possible?
Is it even healthy?
I don’t believe it is.
Insisting on happy all the time is denying the ups and downs of life. It is unsustainable.
We ALL have ups and downs, ALL of us.
Look at all of our great leaders; especially the non-violent leaders.
You still see pain, frustration, and anger.
However, it is how they managed it and what they knew about themselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, (and still today The Dalai Lama) they all had really, REALLY horrific days when they were working for justice and equality.
They suffered and they knew they were suffering.
They didn’t wallow in it. They took action over themselves and that stood as examples for others.
We allow our external world to dictate how happy, talented, intelligent, attractive, fit or valuable we are.
As for me, I have to call Bullshit on that.
SIDEBAR: Let’s get this right out in the open.
My nearest and dearest know this about me and don’t judge me. I have been afraid to show this side of me to the general public.
This is my new dedication to me being me.
You might be saying in this day and age "SO WHAT? We all do. Everybody does in his or her writing and videos."
I'm not everybody.
I was born in a time where it was not as acceptable or common-place.
I was taught that intelligent people don't swear.
WELLLL, I hate to disagree but some of the most brilliant people I know have been known to toss around a profanity, or two...or three.
It is powerful and sometimes really important for emphasis. That is me, and I trust you are ok with that.
If not, that’s fine but that’s not going to change ME!
I don’t pepper every sentence with profanity but I use it optimally.
If it is against your religion or your beliefs to swear or read anything containing profanity, I respect that. (And don’t read on.)
It’s just not me.
That is one of the acceptances of my authenticity.
I was so concerned that I would be judged as a meditation teacher or teacher, of any kind if I used profanity when I felt it was crucial. As they say “I’m over it”. (Let me clarify: unless I am teaching youth. I know the boundaries.)
Have you seen Osho’s video on the work f#@!? Oh, forget it...fuck...there I said it! It’s hilarious and a great lesson. If you aren’t familiar with Osho, Google him. He has wonderful present-day insights on life, mindfulness and the Science of Inner Being. He is not perfect and he knows it. He makes no pretense. Like him, don’t like him, it’s your choice. Isn’t that WONDERFUL!??!! Isn’t that LIBERATING??!!!
Another topic I want to introduce is what I call PRO-AGING.
Why are we so against aging???
If we are really fortunate we will all age, because there is only one alternative to aging.
My grandfather would say every year on his birthday: “I’d rather be having a birthday, than not”. Sadly, He is no longer having them.
Embrace your age. With age does come wisdom, experience, knowledge and insight, if we allow it.
With age also comes laugh lines. I prefer those to frown lines.
Here is what my authentic self is going to talk about in my upcoming posts:
Making meditation part of your daily life. It's easier than you think and most likely you are already doing it.
My journey teaching in juvenile justice and excerpts from my book and screenplay.
My current and former creative and artistic influences.
What got us where we are today?
Watch as I learn to play new percussion instruments. Join in with me!
The hilarity and frustration - mostly hilarity - of learning new languages.
My world travels with my husband. YES, he will finally peak out his head. He’s a bit social media shy.
Our Zen Master Chihuahua service dog. Yes, he's a REAL, trained service dog. My staunch advocacy FOR real service dogs and against fake service animals and support animals.
How I got over my vanity and ego and let my hair go silver. (By the way, I LOVE IT!)
The strange and bizarre things that shape who we are.
Having a healthy marriage later in life. Living and breathing those wedding vows.
Ideas to keep your mind and body healthy at any age.
Dealing with the death of a parent.
Dealing with the death of a beloved pet.
Having friends of all ages. (My friends, I am lucky to say, are between the ages of 19 and 90!)
Lessons learned, what we are learning, and what we are looking to learn.
Excerpts from my comedy film screenplay. First, it was a sitcom, then Hollywood got their hands on it and it took a detour into a reality series (that was paddled over a cliff), and now it's a comedy film.
Let’s talk mental health. Releasing the taboo. Did you know that one in four people deal with a mental health issue? That means someone in your life is experiencing the challenge.
Feel free to write in with suggestions, questions, and ideas for posts. IF it is a part of my life, I will write about it. If it isn't, I may still write about it!
If you liked this post or any of my other posts below PLEASE SHARE.
The more, the merrier.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
KaZ has been in many facets of entertainment, plus the co-owner of two restaurants, a fitness center, a television production company and the owner of a cinema. She did a stint in politics (she won't be doing that again anytime soon), and in veterinary medicine, She now focuses on writing.
In addition to the above, KaZ is an award-winning vocalist, a former dancer, stunt actor, circus artist, & professional water skier. She has worked as a theater artistic director & writer.
KaZ has been a published writer in magazines & books since the age of 15. She has written plays that have been produced in New York, Florida & New Orleans. She has a featured chapter in the book How To Survive A Move. (Up-to-date she has moved 45 times!) KaZ wrote an article for Organic Wine Journal, and also an article featured at the Ground Zero Memorial.
KaZ co-wrote 2 television informational series & 3 television pilots.
One of the pilots, a sit-com, was produced as a reality pilot. KaZ has revisited it and it's now a one season cable series.
“(And ) Then This Happened.” is based on life, love, and everything in between in the mid-life years. Loosely based on her life and the life of two of her best girlfriends.
KaZ's many high pressure pursuits led her to meditation.
She began studying meditation in '91. Her initial training focused on Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan and his teachers. She is a certified Master Meditation and Qigong Instructor.
Most recently KaZ taught in a juvenile justice facility, and lectured on mental health in juvenile justice.
With writing being her first love, look for KaZ's upcoming children's books
from the mind of two grandmothers.
Plus, a play based on letters from her two great uncles during WWII.