The Meditated Blonde: From the Beginning
The hardest part of beginning anything is understanding that you will probably suck at it at first. And this could not be more true for the practice of meditation.
Sitting. Stopping. Breathing. Letting Go, and Trusting in your inner guidance while finding comfort in the stillness. What is this you ask?
Well, I too am learning what it means to literally sit down and shut up. And from my recent experiences, the art of meditation is a task of diligence and endurance, but this ancient practice does come with high reward. Some of the payoffs I have felt first-hand and some I have read about in dense literature by Paramahansa Yogananda and heard through slow whispers in dimly lit yoga studios.
I am sure, you too, have spoken with someone, or heard in a Ted Talk, or seen on your Instagram feed the liberation that meditation can bring. Mindfulness is the word on the street and I want to get into that and all of its many layers, but I also want to tell you that I know how it can be the hardest to just begin.
I have found it damn near impossible to settle into meditation easily and without a fight. In addition to the natural expediency of our thought patterns, this contemporary culture is a FAST one. Fast food, fast cars, fast internet, fast service, and expectations of fast results.
There tends to be an urgency in our movement each day that we feel in the pulse of traffic and in the midst of work tasks that typically need to be completed in the least amount of time possible. This rapid pace from sun up to sun down is sets the pace of our lives in the workplace and beyond. We witness this rapidity in high intensity fitness classes, in extreme diets and fat-burning supplements, in overnight procedures to change our bodies and appearances, and in the pressure to partake in every opportunity and conversation that comes within sight. So I can't help but ask, how do we not expect the same overnight transformation of our mind as we do with all these other routines and rituals?
I think the very first step is admitting that we have a problem. Yes, you, and me! I know maybe only five people in my life who have turned meditation into a daily lifestyle and those individuals are in the field of healing and teaching. So, meditation is a part of their practice and paycheck, so to speak. But for those of us who live in a less-than-spiritual environment and struggle to find the discipline in mindfulness on a regular basis, I highly recommend to just give this whole thing a shot: by sitting down and shutting up...right now. Or the next time you can carve out five minutes to just B E.
'Before embarking on important undertakings, sit quietly, calm your senses and thoughts, and meditate deeply. You will then be guided by the great creative power of Spirit.'
I find it a mighty challenge to hit the brakes on my mind's thirst for knowledge, experience and stimulation. Just last week I spent my weekend roaming the desert for hours, getting lost in a field of boulders, soaking in a hot tub under the full moon, and eating fried ice cream under a Spanish enclave while a rock band serenaded us. The next day was spent jumping out of a plane with 22 strangers at 120 miles an hour and wanting nothing more but to do it all over again.
This here is my hunger for life’s thrills and all of the physical and emotional hype that comes with it. It is a gift to be able to satiate these urges and yet at the end of the day, tuck yourself into bed with the ocean cooing below me and make time for the necessity of stillness. I find my quiet through my love for reading, jewelry designing, hiking in LA’s humble mountains, succumbing to reality television, sashaying along the Malibu shoreline, and most often scribbling in the empty notepads that line my bookshelf.
These rituals settle me into a stillness that takes my mind off of work’s urgent matters and allow me to breath life into my hobbies.
But I am finding there is a cerebral calm that cannot be gratified through anything but the actual practice of peace of mind, that is...the art of meditation.
I have been doing yoga for about a year and half and that practice led me into my first real steps of taking control of the egoic voice.
Starve the ego, feed the soul
This became my mantra on bad hair days and superiority struts down the hallways at work. It became essential in my practice for patience with my relationships, both romantic and platonic. It was the best way for me to understand when I was seeking attention for the sake of needing approval or if my intent was really from the goodness of my heart. The ego, I have learned, is best silenced when we detach from thought and instead tap into the life force of our breath. My journey through yoga has been transformative, yet it still takes discipline and encouragement to go every week. And when I do get to the mat I try to approach my practice with a beginners mind. As if my downward dog was the first full expression my limbs had ever decided to make. Beginning anything is hard, it is also humbling and powerful when you let go of control and bow down to the soul, for this is where it all begins.
Meditation begins with us sitting down together or alone with legs folded in a comfortable position, backs straight with our heads bowed slightly and hands on our knees with palms facing upwards. Begin to focus on every breath, with a three-second hold at the top and bottom of each inhale and exhale. Focus on the expansive stillness that begins from your crown to your toes. Breath from the belly with soft inhales that fill you all the way up. Then let it go with the intention to give space to each cell in your physical form, opening up the cacophony of the mind to the potential of serenity. Relax. Release. Repeat.
Let's begin, together.
Namaste light seekers,
The Honest Blonde