The M Word
In my experience, most people don’t like to talk about meditation. The general idea is that it is good for you, but you just can’t and you won’t do it. Many do yoga regularly but don’t meditate ever. However, in yoga, meditation is the big thing.
Don’t view meditation as separate from yoga: Fitness and social media culture show yoga as a separate thing from meditation. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Asana means “sitting down”. It makes reference to the posture use to meditate. The practice of poses was a preparation for meditation. Once a yogi achieved a sitting posture that was firm but also relaxed, he was ready to calm the mind. It is important to remember this. Realize that if you are only doing asanas you are not using the tool of yoga to its full potential.
Yes, meditation is good for you: The scientific community agrees that meditation is healthy. It is linked to decreased depression and anxiety, prevention of mental illnesses and better cardiovascular performance. When the mind is calm, mental focus allows efficiency in physical and mental tasks and leads to emotional balance.
Yes, it is hard to meditate: I heard a joke about a kid saying that meditation is pretending that you are not sleeping. It sounds easy. It doesn’t require any special ability. There are no natural meditators. Yet people say they just can’t do it. And the main reason is because most people think it is a waste of time. You are doing nothing. You are just being there, which is actually the point of it. Until we realize that it is not a waste of time, we cannot start meditating.
How to relate to the meditative state: When I try to explain why meditating feels good I return to examples of meditative states that other people have experienced before. When you play a sport (specially individual ones like surfing, climbing, running, swimming and so on), when you sing or play and instrument, when you dance, when you have sex, when you pray, you are in a meditative state. Your mind is present, not worrying about the future or regretting the past. It is not thinking about results, positives nor negatives. You are just there. Eventually you can have that same experience while just sitting.
Baby steps: If you think that there’s a chance that meditation will do you good, go for it, but do it gradually. Start a couple days a week for 5 minutes. Then increase the time and frequency. Try different methods and pick the one you like the most. There are apps out there that can help you too. A personal tip: if you want to meditate but you feel that you don’t have time to do it, actually, that is the best time to do it.