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Meditation: Do I have to?

Class 11 on the site now! Camel pose = backbending = feeling amazing! Photos will be on Instagram this week. 

Meditation is the final portion of the classes I teach. The online classes feature 2 minutes of meditation. Yup, 2 minutes. 

Why meditate? So many reasons! Lets break down how we do it and then we will discuss why we do it. 

Meditation instructions are simple: 

Sit still. 

Be quiet. 

Don't move. 

That's it! You do not have to close your eyes, although I instruct that. Many forms of meditation include fixing your gaze on an object, which is why you may see candles in meditation settings -the flicker of the flame can be an object for your gaze. I won't go into detail about each part of the instructions - yes there are ways to sit that are more conducive, and yes there are ways to place your hands, etc. But honestly none of that is super important. All the details get revealed to you as you go.

The three most important actions are sitting still, being quiet, and not moving - which I know sounds redundant because doesn't the first thing say to sit still? Well yes, but being still/not moving is so crucial that it bears repeating AND most people struggle with this part the most. 

Why do folks struggle to sit still? That brings us to why we meditate. 

In my humble opinion - most of us struggle with sitting still because of a need to "do" something. There is a perceived need to initiate action because many of us think that by pursuing action, we can escape pain. This pain is largely emotional. By staying busy and performing actions, aka "doing", we fend off the more complicated and often times prickly, difficult process of "feeling". This is not true for everyone, nor am I an expert. Just see if it resonates for you...

When we meditate, what we are doing on some level is exploring a certain amount of time resisting instant gratification. We are learning to observe our thoughts - not control them, not judge them, not sensor them, not react to them...just observe. This takes tremendous practice and self control - this is why the physical portion of yoga seeks to build a disciplined and consistent practitioner. If you can dedicate time to opening your physical body, staying in the pose, resist coming out, resist the "I cant do this" vibe, little by little, coming back to the same poses again and again, then perhaps you can see a translation of  that discipline in your spiritual/mental journey. 

When we intentionally sit still, remain quiet and do not move, we are allowing ourselves to be with our thoughts and our feelings, without "doing" anything. In order to fully heal from pain, it has to be acknowledged first. Then it has to be processed, embraced and accepted. This can take years, even decades - this can actually be your life's spiritual work, depending on the level and nature of your trauma. 

So...why is meditation so hard? Well, who wants to feel pain? No one! Self preservation tells us to run from pain - literally and figuratively. Why walk towards it? Why sit with it? Because self observation, self awareness and the ability to become tolerant of your pain makes it less painful. That's the answer. You allow yourself to feel and you realize you are still OK.

Does it make sense? Physical discipline influencing spiritual discipline, leading to awareness of emotional pain, leading towards (eventually, when you are ready) embracing pain, leading towards liberation from the fear of pain.  Notice I said "fear of pain". Not the agony of pain, or the suffering or the experience of pain. Pain hurts! And, its OK to hurt. Having said all that, its also OK to "action" the pain away. However one chooses to deal with their emotional pain is an individual decision, subject to the approval of only one person: yourself. 

Not bad for 2 minutes!

Just Kidding. There is no way to know how long it can take for meditation to have an impact on you.  No two people have the same emotional pain. Its all about being open to the possibility of more freedom, more love, more joy. So that's meditation. I hope reading my opinion about this practice was a piece of light in your day. See you in class! 

Who in your life needs to hear this today?   

Namaste, Melinda and yes, Black Lives Matter. 


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