Give up on meditation. Seriously. Just do it. Hang up your hat and walk away from the small pillow that promises peaceful presence but instead leads to back pain. Say goodbye.
Meditation is hard. It can be infuriating. But when I ask a client how meditation is going, or what their experience with it has been, no one comes back to me with “it’s hard and I fucking hate it” when I know that at least 80% of my clients feel this way. Meditation has become the thing that everyone slogs through in pursuit of higher consciousness, peace of mind, happiness… it is the golden ticket, but it isn’t the only way.
I used to sit in meditation everyday. And when things started getting busier in my life, when meditation would serve me best, I just couldn’t get there. I mean, I’d get on my pillow and plaster the most yogic face I could muster across my face, but behind the calm exterior was a raging maniac! My mind was racing all over my to-do list, the friend I wanted to reach out to, the blogpost idea that needed to be written, the way I would have liked to have had that conversation I had 3 days prior… So I’d sit there and wrestle with my mind for exactly 15 minutes, and then walk away feeling even more out of alignment.
Om shanti shanti. Or something like that.
Until one day I called bullshit. As I was reflecting on my morning routine, I pulled out my Core Desired Feelings (CDMs). CDMs are developed through Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Mapping strategy. CDMs are my guideposts for decision-making these days. I use them as a tool to make choices, and to diagnose pre-made choices (in this case, adding meditation to my morning routine). I desire in my life to feel full, still and radiant. And meditation was taking me as far away from those goals as one could imagine.
I started meditating because it’s the thing to do. I continued to meditate when it was hard because it is THE thing to do to find presence, a concept I was striving to actualize as I waged war against my brain each morning. My CDFs gave me clarity in this moment. They allowed me to take a step back and analyze my situation from a heart-centered place. Did meditation feel radiant to me? Still? Full? No.
This answer then begged the question: then why the heck are you doing that to yourself everyday? And further, why do you choose to start your day in this emotional state?
Raise your hand if you’re an analytical type? Raise your hand if you’re a dreamer? Both these types of people and everyone in between has a tendency to use their brains pretty much all the time.
We’re raised to refer to logic to find the answers, and these patterns of behaviour are hard nuts to crack. So let’s get back to basics. Are there other ways that we can practice mindfulness?
Let’s call it “Laying the Foundation for a Meditative Practice”. All of the following exercises are designed to distract your body while cultivating more awareness around our thought patterns… or the way we speak to ourselves. Try them out without the distraction of music or friendship and see what you discover.
1. Go outside. Reuniting with nature can reconnect us to the feeling of oneness that can be achieved with meditation. It has a way of calming our minds, re-focusing our goals and clearing our heads. We don’t need to hike Everest or push ourselves at all- simply laying in the grass can do the trick. I love to sea-gaze from the beach.
2. Move your body. Turn on some beautiful music and move your body to it. Or join up with some meditative dance groups. Try out something like Qoya- you can check out some free videos here.
3. Paint. Or draw, or write. Or garden. Do something that gets your hands busy and witness the clarity you can find in sketching that left eyebrow or tugging that weed out.
4. Better yet, paint with your left hand. This is my favourite. It delivers the double whammy of distracting your hands and providing clear focus on a singular activity while at the same time forcing your mind to work in new, challenging ways. The result: studies have shown that it can dramatically increase your self-control. It teaches us to bring consciousness to everyday activities. You can even try doing everything with your non-dominant hand- open doors, eat… anything you do automatically with one hand.
So the next time you find your brow furrowed as you strive your way to peace on a pillow, take a breath and try out some of these activities for a few weeks, or for a few years. Don’t be afraid to approach any of this stuff from where you are now and choose your approach based on how you want to feel now.
I desire to feel still, full and radiant… and for me that means taking the alternate route.
Pssst… did you know that I’m offering a Desire Map Workshop on June 6 in Ottawa, Ontario? Join me for this epic day of soul-diving and celebrating! Learn more here.