Hands-Up How-To: Meditation

Hands-Up-How-To-Blog-Size Jamie Ridler

For the second year in a row, Jamie Ridler is gathering how-to’s from different people.

The question: What have you learned that would help someone else out on their creative journey?

My response: my consistent, daily meditation practice.

One of my saving graces this year has been my meditation practice. This year has brought tremendous amount of change and challenges. I remained very centered and got through the challenges more effortlessly than I previously would have. I attribute much of this to my daily meditation practice. There were bumps along the way, there always will be, but my meditation practice acted like shock absorbers.

I have been meditating for several years but this past year it became a mainstay in my daily practice – whether for 5 or 60 minutes. When I started yoga teacher training the time spent in meditation became longer and longer and now reaches 62 minutes every day. That’s not for everyone, of course.

Now I guide others to find their meditation practice – to manage stress, to connect with their inner creative beings, to sleep better, and so much more. People come to meditation with some common misconceptions.

Here are some of the key themes:

  • You have to completely clear your mind of all thoughts. If you can’t you aren’t meditating.

Okay so, no. That’s not likely at all. Your mind will always have thoughts. After you meditate for a long time you will find that the moments between thoughts is longer. The key is not to get absorbed in your thoughts. Be aware of the thoughts, acknowledge and move on. One of the reasons we use mantra in meditation besides the power that they can have is to provide something for the mind to focus on. If you are saying a mantra, watching your breath, sitting tall… it leaves little room to plan your dinner or create the day’s to-do list.

  • You have to meditate for a long time for it to work

Not true. 3 minutes of long breathing can affect your overall well-being. Check out the times in this post and the effect that it has on your body. It is more important to do it daily even for 3 minutes than to try some it once for 30 minutes, get frustrated and stop. Work up to longer periods of time. And find what fits your lifestyle.

  • You have to chant, sit like a pretzel or other weird thing yogi things.

There are powerful reasons why we chant. Sound has an effect on different levels of our psyche. But you don’t have to do anything like that to be effective. You can sit in a regular chair. Sit comfortably with your hands resting on your lap. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Count to 7 on the inhale, hold for 5, and slowly exhale for 10. Try that 5-10 times.  Adding a mantra is powerful and can be as simple as Thank You or I am … You can sit cross-legged, sit in a chair, lie down (just try not to fall asleep). Find a position where you are comfortable.

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should meditate (based on my practice)

  1. Foundation. When you find your still-point over and over again in meditation, you can find it more quickly and easily during times of turmoil.
  2. Less stress. We are all stressed out – we work too hard, we are constantly interrupted with technology and demands, our nervous systems are shot. Meditation helps. Things don’t get you as riled up – you really do get more zen. Of course you still have emotions and reactions to things but they pass more effortlessly.
  3. We connect to our breath. Our breath has a unique signature that is developed through all of our life experience. Observe your breath can tell you about where you are holding blocks, where things aren’t flowing, and more.
  4. Memory and recall. When you meditate your brain behaves differently. As a result, one thing I have noticed is that I have better attention to things I am working on during the day, and better recall of details.
  5. Creativity. When we get quiet and go within we are able to tap into that abundant creative source. We get answers to questions we have been pondering, ideas to problems present themselves, and more. If you are on a creative journey, meditation should be a part of your day.

There’s more information on my post meditation as part of my spiritual practice.

Any questions or comments please post below. I’d love to hear about your experiences with trying to meditate.

Happy Holidays and all the very best in 2013!