Yoga Practice

Mindfulness Meditation

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t fully “get” meditation … yet. My attempts at meditating have simply been to sit still, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing as to not get distracted. Clear the mind. De-stress. Take time for myself. All that good stuff.

And as I find myself still struggling with adding the role of Mom to all the other roles I play, the timing of Sheila Singh‘s workshop about Mindfulness Meditation couldn’t have been better. I needed some pointers. I am constantly distracted by other thoughts, wishes, negative emotions, and feeling disconnected to aspects of my previous childless life. I spend more of my meditation time trying to fight my inner self than, well, meditating.

As the workshop began, Sheila talked about being present to the moment. (And since I wanted to be present, I ditched the idea of taking notes and asked her to send them to me after the workshop.)

Mindfulness is essentially being with what is present right now.

Meditation is self-reflection or familiarizing yourself with the nature of the experience.

Mindfulness Meditation is familiarizing yourself with the nature of the experience by attending to this moment.

It seems like it should be such a simple thing, right? Being present and noticing yourself in the experience is like asking a bunch of teenagers (or adults!) to close their laptops and put away their phones. What do you do with yourself when left with nothing but… your inner self? This seemed to be my biggest barrier. The temptation to let my mind wander is very strong.

Sheila made a great point that we are so conditioned today to constantly be stimulated – email, text messaging, and social networks are never-ending distractions, notifying us of something new we must see NOW. Because of how we let technology infiltrate every minute of our days, we have to train ourselves on how to let go, turn inward, and be part of the experience.

Of the mental notes I took, these were things that stuck with me:

  • Find time and space to pause.
  • Let go of expectations – whatever you think meditation should be, let it go.
  • Don’t immediately react.
  • It’s okay to experience discomfort and distractions. Notice and then release it.
  • Give sensations, thoughts, and feelings time to play out – without dwelling on them. Many times, what might be uncomfortable or distracting will eventually neutralize.
  • Invite relaxation and find ease.

I thought the idea of allowing sensations, thoughts, and feelings to run their course was interesting. I’m the type of person who would let something bother me and get under my skin until I want to scratch my eyes out. So meditation is definitely a lesson of patience.

In my next post, I’ll share the different methods we practiced during the workshop and how I fared. (Spoiler: My leg completely fell asleep!) In the mean time, check out Sheila’s blog.

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  1. This was the core of the retreat I did ten years ago that you thought sounded almost cult like. 🙂 Glad you are getting some exposure to this. Let me know if you ever want more info about the meditation I did (and that I need to brush up on).

    • Terri says

      ha! this was in college, right? all i remember about your retreat was that you weren’t allowed to talk for a week or something like that. and at 22, i couldn’t imagine not talking for a whole week! besides, you were always ahead of the curve in that eat, pray, love kind of way. please share what you remember from that retreat. i’ll be interested to see how your perspective has changed as you got older.

  2. Marion says

    Taming the mind is a really difficult exercice!
    I understand what you’re talking about. I’ve tried and tried and after a while it gets a little bit easier.
    A book called 8 minutes meditation gave me a great insight. There’s different exercices so you can find what resonates best with yourself and what is easier. Also you don’t get bored !

    Yoga is kind of similar but as you think about asanas, bandhas, drishti and all it does’t feel the same. But when you look back on the practice, it feels like being in the moment doesn’t it?!
    Well Savasana is quite the same exercice and that’s why it’s so hard though ! haha !

    Thanks for your blog ! I really enjoy it

    • Terri says

      thanks for the kind note, marion! i’m glad you enjoy the blog.

      that’s great to hear it gets easier. i know it will change my perspective and my yoga practice.

  3. Truthfully, I never practice vipassana meditation on a regular basis. The problem doesn’t lie in the meditation itself–it is simply that I lack the discipline to practice anything regularly. That said, I do apply the principles daily with most activities. It has become almost innate with certain people and situations (WORK). One thing at a time. Observing instead of reacting. Watching the pain (I use this a LOT with menstrual cramps, which have been the bane of my existence). Recently, you wrote about why savasana is so hard for you… it struck me that I don’t struggle with it as I thought I would bc I got the basis down years ago–observe, relax, don’t go to sleep, if I wander away from a thought, I simply catch myself and bring myself back (I’m not sure I know all about what savasana encompasses). Oh, and I just saw what your friend wrote above.

    Obviously, you know me and know that I still freak out about things. But I think things would be much worse for me if I didn’t at least employ the principles in my daily thoughts and activities. “This too shall pass.” “I am not the same person I was five minutes ago or five years ago (all my cells have changed, so literally, I am not the same person!) so why should I let some random event or person plague me for so long?”

    To this day, the retreat was one of the most challenging things I ever did in my life. 12 days, 10 without speaking/reading/writing/outside media, observing my breath and my pain for 14 hours a day (I can sooo relate to sitting there trying not to react to your leg numbing). I loved how it was set up to extract out of me my fullest voluntary commitment–there was no payment; they fed you and gave you a room to sleep in (I bunked in a large room with other noisy women who did not observe silence–since then, a huge, dorm has been built with individual rooms). You eat vegetarian food to stay light. Lectures nightly to expand on the principles. The hard part is committing 12 days to it and away from your life. I am glad I did it when I was 22; there’s a reason I haven’t been back. I keep having excuses (work, Peter, mom, work, etc). But if you can do it, it’s such an amazing tool to carry with you for the rest of your life.

    Thanks for writing about this. It’s a gentle push for me to get back into it.

  4. Oh one more thing with regards to pain: especially with emotional pain, I feel I have progressed. Feel I am more accepting of everything from sadness to anger to shame. With sadness, I watch it and out loud (not too loud) tell myself “OK enough of the thought. Let’s do.” Difficult relationships are easier to deal with bc I do something about it instead of dwelling (Mom, troublesome coworkers). With anger, if I cannot reign in my words or actions, I don’t beat myself up for it and almost always arrive at an acknowledgement of the transgression sooner instead of running away (i.e., apologizing). With shame, I finally realized it’s ok to feel embarrassed AND show it. And again apologize for it. Huge deal for me when it comes to work issues and my doctor tells me I screwed up. Ha. 🙂

    There’s a great book Peter has been reading that I plan to pick up called The Untethered Soul, which I think talks about mindfulness meditation. Peter described a practice of pretending like the nagging worries/thoughts in your mind are actually the voice of an annoying roommate. Once you give a personality to it, you can tell it to shut up and disregard it more easily than if you were simply trying to tell yourself to quit ruminating on negative thoughts.

    • Marion says

      I absolutely love this voice of the annoying roommate thing!! It sounds quite effective in spotting and comportment you don’t like in yourself and dealing with it.
      I’ll try to think about it next I meet this personality!

  5. Pingback: Meditation experimentation | Finding Drishti

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