Do you want to meditate, but find it a bit overwhelming? Or maybe not sure where to start. You are not alone. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a meditator. As a therapist I want to model for my clients what I know has so many, many benefits. Well, I can now say I am on the way to becoming a meditator. I have tried off and on for several years. And then I took a great 6 week class last year and I learned a lot of foundational pieces. But I found it hard to follow through doing it on my own without support. I ran across a downloadable program recently called: 21 Days Meditation Integration by Teri Cole. It is set up with a Meditation Tip for each day and then a 10 minute guided meditation. I had experienced one of her meditation cd’s last year called Meditation Transformation. And I liked it a lot. But I found this one to be different in that it is set up in a 21 day format, which is supposed to be what it takes to form a habit. Plus this has some great daily, short tips on meditating. I just recently finished by 21st day and have continued with a daily morning meditation. YaHoo!
The 21 Days Meditation Integration is a digital download that you can obtain from Terri’s website: www.terricole.com Terri is a psychotherapist and coach in the New York City area. This is information that is current as of the writing of this blog post. I might note that there are other programs out there. This is just the one that was a fit for me. You may find another program that is better for you. And it is important to note there are different forms of meditation and styles in which it is facilitated. It is worth your time to find your fit so you can incorporate this wonderful practice into your life.
Here is a bit of my Ups and Downs of Becoming a Meditator:
Day 1 – Day 10 – The First Half of Getting Started and Settled.
- I was not keeping a journal during the first half of my 21 days. But the things that stand out is feeling awkward and not sure about doing it. And hoping the 10 minute meditation was really going to be a 10 minute meditation as I was on a “schedule” and had to leave for work to be on time. I initially did not allow enough time to keep from worrying about what was next. I did correct that and it did help.
- I worried a bit about was I doing it “right”. That too had to be adapted to an attitude of compassion for myself in the learning process – knowing that it is not about doing it perfectly. But continuing to do it and finding that it got a bit easier each day.
Day 11 – An Eventful Meditation with Many Lessons
- I got a bit distracted and found my self thinking about a text that had come in and decided to respond to it, even though I had made a deal with myself not to get into my emails and answer voice mails,etc until after my first thing early meditation. Well the text lead to thinking maybe I should check my emails. And of course some needed an “immediate response” or so I thought at the time. I finally told myself “STOP”, you are off track. Go meditate. And so I did. But due it being later it was hard to concentrate as I had become hungry. So . . . it is can be hard to not get drawn in. It can take some real self-discipline and thought about what is most important.
- Liked the idea of breathing into my tense areas to let those begin to relax. It really did work!
- Really did not want the meditation to end today. This felt like a shift for me.
- My cats are attached! So they like to be with me when I am home. I had given up on keeping the doors closed to my “Zen Den” as they would yowl and cry at the door until I let them in. Yes I could have waited it out. But it really did not lend to a calm state for meditation. So for me it worked better to let them roam in and out as they liked. Well I thought it was working, until today as I was finishing up my meditation I heard one of kitties jump up on the coffee table. I thought no big deal. Or so I thought. As I finished, I petted my kitty cat and then all of sudden I smelled this awful smell and saw smoke rising up from my kitty. My cat’s tail was on fire! I had not thought about my candle on the coffee table. I ran after my poor kitty. He had enough meditating for the day. The tail was only singed and as he ran for cover he extinguished the small bit of tail that was on fire. After I opened the windows to clear the air, I did the proper Mama Cat thing to do, I cat proofed my Zen Den a bit and moved my candles up high. Not exactly were I wanted them, but the best solution for a more worry free environment. Not the way I envisioned my meditation time ending, but looking back all a bit ironic and humorous.
Day 15 – A “Peaceful Happiness”
- By the end of this session, I felt incredibly peaceful and happy – a wonderful mix that felt so good.
Day 21 – End of 21 Day Meditation Series
- I did it! It felt really nice to know that I could hang in there and make it happen. I think this program was effective in that it is DOABLE for a BEGINNER and offers SUPPORT for an EXTENDED PERIOD of TIME. Taking these small 10 minute bites of meditation was perfect for a beginner. I still consider myself a “newbie” but I now feel so much more comfortable sitting down to meditate. I have continued my practice and I now feel better about the unguided parts of my meditation. I can rest in the calm and choose what feels best for me. And lastly, I can move into a state of relaxation easier and with less effort during the day when I need to.
Photo by Tanna Strom
The Art Institute of Chicago
The quick tips that were most helpful for me in getting my meditation practice going were:
- Setting up my “Zen Den”, a place that is conducive to a quiet time that has a pleasant surrounding. I added candles, as they make me feel calm. I recently added some peppermint / chamomile oil. I have heard of many who like to use lavender due to its calming effects.
- Sticking with a set time of day to do my meditation. In my case, I chose the first thing in the am. Much of the literature on meditation suggests early am or before bedtime.
- Silencing my phone and any other device that might go off. Nothing like the phone going off or the washing machine that was set on delay going off as you are starting your meditation.
- Setting up enough time so you do not feel rushed and have an underlying stressed state going on. Building in some leeway time helped as things happen. Like having trouble getting up or the cat throws up or someone messes up your Zen Den and you have to clear it out, etc, etc.
- Alerting other family members about what I was doing and why I was trying to keep the new “Zen Den” free of clutter and piles of things.
- I found keeping a daily journal to be helpful to mindfully think about my progress and reactions to meditation. Plus notes on the tips given so I could have for reference at a later time. Unfortunately, I did not think to do this until mid way in the process. But no worries. The most important part for me was to DO THE MEDITATION. The journal piece takes a bit of extra time, which may or may not work for you.
PS If you did not check out my last weeks blog on the scientific benefits of meditation, I would suggest that you do so. There are so many benefits and now backed up by research. How cool is that.
If you have resources you would like to share on meditation downloads, cds, etc, please do let others know by commenting below.