If I spent even a fraction of the time doing the things I “think about” about doing I would have long since gained mastery over a number of new disciplines. On any given day I get about 2 total hours wherein I am the master of only my own destiny. I am a mother, a partner, an entrepreneur, oldest sister, roommate and pet owner amongst other things. Each of the hats I wear requires me to divide almost every second of my day into multi-tasking. I’m making dinner and teaching my 2 year old son how to safely use a knife. I need to go pee so I take the cat food with me into the half-bath and emerge with a bag full of cat poop and pee from the litter box. I’m in perpetual motion with my body and my brain is being pulled in no fewer than 3 directions at the same time. What this often means is I spend a lot of time telling myself to remember to do self-care…much more time in fact than I get to actually spend in the act thereof.
Removing Obstacles to Mindfulness
There are exactly two opportunities I give myself each day to simplify and align my thoughts and action. Those two times are when I do yoga and when I meditate. Before I was a mom I could sit down and carve out 10-30 minutes for myself regularly at any point in the day and I didn’t have to be regimented with it yet it still got done. Now I either get up early to do it or chances are it doesn’t happen. You are going to come across many people telling you that mediation looks a certain way or it doesn’t qualify. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how you do it for the most part but you have to do SOMETHING or chances are you actually condemning yourself to the realm of “thinking about it.” So many more people get stuck in their minds and never get around to actually doing it. Maybe because its such an in-your-head practice? I don’t know. I believe Steven Pressfield would call this “resistance.” “Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.”
The How. The Method.
The War of Art is a tiny book. Its geared toward artists but anything in life can be done with the grace and flourish of an artist by one who would care so much to make the effort. If you want a concise and eloquently written book about how to recognize that you are your own resistance, I recommend reading that book. To me its a pretty obvious tenant that we are our own worst enemies when we get in our head about things. The unfortunate nature of how most people are forced to structure their lives is being in your own head is almost a necessity. I need a hell of a lot more time than 2 hours per day to do yoga, meditate, prepare and eat nutritious, intentional meals, journal, make strides in business, do more yoga and connect with people on a spiritual level. But I don’t get the time I need to take action on many of those things and thinking about them has to suffice to save space. Maybe the email can wait. As long as it gets sent, it can take its time to a degree. I live with most of the people who are close to me so even the mundane can be a chance to connect deeply. But what cannot be done unless it is done is meditate. So, however you do it, don’t judge or let others judge. Here are some of the easiest things I do that have helped me stay consistent in seasons of sparse time for self-care:
- Child’s Pose 3rd Eye Meditation. All I do for this one is put myself into my preferred child’s pose and make sure my 3rd eye is on something like a pillow, bolster, block or the ground. The point here is to allow your breathing to become easy and regular and to let your closed eyes rest at 3rd eye center. You are welcome to add other techniques into this simple meditation if necessary to focus your attention at 3rd eye center too. But, what I’ve found is once your eyes are still and unmoving, your mind will quickly become still too. Physically get a reign on your eyes and most of the work will be done for you.
- Sadhana. This is the quintessential meditation wherein you sit up an your eyes are closed. Much the same as in child’s pose, getting your physical eyes to rest at 3rd eye center without moving will help to clear your mind of thoughts. This is a little more difficult, however, because its harder to maintain a nice, still upright seated posture. If your body is fighting you the whole time its not worth it to try to suffer through imo. Unless you’re some weird exception. Most people I know lead a lifestyle where sitting on the ground upright with open hips for more than a minute or two is going to be very uncomfortable. Use a wall to help you stay seated upright. Allow your arms and hands to be in any position that’s comfortable. You may also want a block or pillow behind your back at the wall in addition to one underneath your bum. If someone gives you critique for making it “easier” on yourself they are missing the point or a purist neither of which is your problem. What is a problem is if you get discouraged and stop doing the work because you’re not meeting yourself half-way.
- Outside Transcendental. In this form of meditation (TM or transcendental meditation) your eyes are only somewhat closed. It seems crazy at first but if your eyes are healthy its doable (and if they’re not see my eye yoga video to help). I don’t love to do TM inside. Something feels off for me about it. I LOVE to do it outside however. If you’ve never done mushrooms or acid the closest way to describe what happens is like a blurry kaleidoscopic effect in your visual field. This WILL NOT happen if your eyes are moving around. Pick something you can focus on – for me its usually something like a leaf or branch or something natural and at least a meter away. Try to let your eyes be relaxed but locked onto the one object. This is one of the most peaceful and easy meditations for me.
Just fucking do it instead of thinking about it. 😉
As you can see I am just providing a very broad-stroke guide of positions and things you need to get into the zone. There are so many more specific techniques but I think this is of as much value as it is a trap. If you force yourself to know all of the things before doing the thing you may never do the thing. The above three are not the only ways to meditate. Two more that I prefer without going into detail are laying down and walking. Regardless of the shape your body is making or whether you choose an internal or external gaze, chances are simple is best. Let your eyes be still and let your breath be relaxed. Do this consistently. If it works for you to be regimented, do it. If you need to fit it in where you can and you’re good at keeping yourself accountable, do it. If you need to use an app, do it. Just fucking do it instead of thinking about it. 😉