What an Intro to Meditation Class Taught Me About Life
One of the first things I turned to in my wellness journey was meditation. I downloaded several meditation apps to figure out which one I liked best and was able to narrow it down to two apps. But I was never able to consistently meditate…
The thing about these apps is that I didn’t really feel like I was learning how to meditate. Instead, I felt I was becoming dependent on them in order to meditate. So I wanted to learn how to meditate without an app.
Turns out, all you have to do is Google “meditation center near me” to find free intro to meditation classes…Or (in my case) have a sister who’s into spiritual healing tell you about a good, new meditation center that’s half an hour away from you.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. I am not my thoughts or feelings
It took me several online articles, books, and intro classes to really understand this. Because if I’m not my thoughts or feelings, then who the heck am I? TBH, I still don’t know the answer to that question because I thought my thoughts and feelings indicated who I was. But I’ve learned that I’m the creator of my thoughts and feelings and I can choose which ones I want to believe and act on.
Coming to this realization has freed me. Separating yourself from the thoughts and feelings you have, gives you control over them. Every time I have a thought or feeling, I can acknowledge it and decide whether or not it’s true for me.
2. Why it’s important to be present
I don’t know how many times you’ve heard that, but I’ve heard it a lot. And it didn’t click until I read Don’t Hate, Meditate! by Meghan Monahan. She asks, “How many times have you done something stupid while your mind was thinking about the future or the past?” I’ll let you think about this while I share my experience.
When I read that, I couldn’t think of a specific instance but I was sure it happened. A couple of days later, my mind was stuck in the future while I was driving. When the road curved, I moved the sun visor from the side to the front and accidentally hit my head with it. I remembered that question and laughed.
I know that’s a small example, but I can think of a few arguments I’ve gotten into with my friends, sisters, and boyfriend because I was worried about the future too or upset about the past. Had I been present, I might not have hit my head or gotten into those arguments.
3. When you’re present, time feels different
If you’re thinking about the future, bringing yourself back to the present can slow down time and ease your worries about the future coming too quickly. How many times have you been so scared for the future that you didn’t enjoy what was in front of you?
If you’re thinking about the past, bringing yourself back to the present speeds time up. How many times have you daydreamed your way through an hour?
Here’s a tip: Your body only exists in the present. So when you’re stuck in the past or future, you can use it to bring you back by doing this:
- Put one hand on your belly
- The other hand on top of that hand
- Breathe into your belly
- And focus on the movement in your hands
4. I finally believed in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs
When you meditate, your body has to be at ease before your mind can begin to relax. If you’re sitting in an uncomfortable position, your mind will be fixated on the discomfort. This is similar to how I can’t start working on self-fulfillment until I feel that my basic and psychological needs have been met.
When I first learned about Maslow’s hierarchy I didn’t agree with it. I thought that focusing on self-fulfillment could bring psychological needs. If you focus on yourself, you can build your confidence. And when you are confident, you attract people into your life. But really, being confident and having a support network are pillars to achieving your full potential. There are so many people in the “cheap seats.” You need your confidence and support network to keep being in the ring.
5. Taking a few steps away from your goal doesn’t always mean you’re going backward
To build on the last point, in meditation you’re supposed to realign your posture if you’re uncomfortable. And by realigning your position, you’re not stopping your meditation. You’re taking the necessary actions to continue your meditation.
When you’re stressed out, your mind can’t focus on the tasks you need to do because it’s stuck in survival mode. So even though taking a break means stopping your progress to finishing your to-do list, you’re taking the necessary actions to continue crossing off any item.
So what now?
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, I highly recommend finding your nearest meditation center to find an intro course. Here are a few things you can do:
- Check out Brahma Kumaris, a spiritual organization that teaches Raja Yoga meditation for free.
- Google “meditation center near me” to find free intro to meditation classes
- Or reading is your preferred method of learning, here is a great blog post with 10 books on meditation for beginners.