For years, I struggled with having a regular meditation practice. I would meditate off and on, more falling off the wagon than staying on track with it. Trying so hard. Hearing my self-critic venting and judging loudly: ‘what kind of a yoga teacher are you? Surely, you should be able to meditate daily! ’. The more I tried, the less success there was, I just could not get my head around it, says Rachel Bonkink.
The rebel within
One obstacle in getting into a regular meditation practice was the fact that my mind was (and still is) very passionate but also very rebellious. Tell me that I ‘have to’ do something, and I will instantly want to do the opposite. The eight-year-old within just doesn’t like rules, any rules, not even the self-imposed ones.
Whenever people tell me that they want to meditate but that they don’t actually get to it, or keep dropping out, my question is very simple: why do you want to meditate?
Because they say that it is good for you? Or, because his Holiness the Dalai Lama does it and he seems quite joyful?
Without a strong and compelling reason to meditate, it will be very difficult to find the motivation to actually sit down and start training your mind.
It was only when I had my reason for meditating crystal clear, that I easily and without too much effort got into a regular practice. My intention was to be a better human being, to be the very best version of myself, for the benefit of myself and others. I was genuinely interested in why certain people and events frustrated me or made me feel uncomfortable. And, I didn’t like the person that I was becoming and I wanted to figure out the how of ‘everything’, of why we are all here.
If your intention is strong enough, you will still need a good dose of self-discipline to practice but it will not feel as something extra on your to-do list. Meditation will become as obvious and part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth.
More often than not, it is not weakness that makes us give up on practices that we know are good for us. With diets, it is very often the fear of failure that makes us sabotage ourselves from the day we start. With meditation, it can be the fear of the unknown.
Especially when starting out, it is good to be guided by a meditation teacher. You can learn how to meditate from a book or an app but having a real-life teacher will save you a lot of time and frustration.
You will still be the one who has to do the work, but this is so much easier when you feel the support from a teacher or even a group of people doing the exact same thing. I firmly recommend group meditations as it is so powerful to hold each other and share the energy.
Meditation in daily life
Meditation is not a quick fix but when you start practicing, you will notice that very positive micro-shifts will happen. Micro-shifts in the form of more awareness. Simply being aware that you got upset for example. The notion that something shifted in your feelings. More awareness in your daily life will make you able to respond and choose your reactions instead of mindlessly react.
How can we put this into practice in our daily lives?
For example, when you notice that a particular situation, person or event gives you a feeling of discomfort and you feel upset?
Instead of mindlessly
reacting, the first thing to do is to pause.
Notice what is going on in your body and mind, acknowledge it and take three deep breaths in and sigh it out. The breath is always there so there’s nothing to reach for or anything very complicated to do, you just breathe.
In that time of just 3 breaths, you can quickly assess the possible fear, anxiety, pain or excitement that is triggered within and decide on your appropriate response.
How to start meditating
Begin meditating today. Check out my 5 Day meditation challenge, it’s free and it will give you a really good idea about meditation.
Each session is 30 minutes long and you will learn one of the oldest meditation techniques, mindfulness of breathing. Every session also includes an intro and some breathwork.
Through meditation, you will live a more conscious life and your relationships, without a doubt, will change for the better. Once you know your reason why, you will start wondering why you didn’t start earlier.
As a former COO, Rachel is on a mission to support as many people as possible in their journey to less anxiety and more joy. She teaches meditation and yoga and has been a mindset coach for over 15 years. She is the author of Flex your Mind, 10 Yoga principles for less stress in a busy world. www.rachelbonkink.com
Rachel welcomes any and all questions via email and Instagram, @rachelbonkink