Meditation. It’s a key component in leading a yogi life. Since starting teacher training, I have certainly dedicated more time to that aspect of yoga, l but the question remains — am I doing this right?
I start with my seven-point posture — seated on a cushion cross-legged; my shoulders rolled back, arms relaxed, and right hand over left hand resting loosely in my lap; my back straight, but not stiff; my head tilted just slightly forward, jaw relaxed; my eyes closed; and my tongue pressed to the top of my mouth, just behind my teeth. Not part of the ideal posture, a corgi in your lap, but I do my best.
I use an app on my phone as a timer because it helps me track my sessions and progress. The singing bowl tones and I begin to turn inward and focus on my breath. I am still working on my shamata meditation. This is a simple form of meditation, loosely meaning “calm abiding,” in which you focus on your breath. In training, we started by counting each breath up to twenty one, which translates to approximately two minutes. If thoughts interrupt your counting, acknowledge the thought and start your count over at one.
And here is where my self-doubt creeps in. My record is two breaths before the thoughts distract me and I must start over.
I have been told the recognition of thoughts, even though distracting, is in fact the beginning stages of mastering meditation. When I was first told that, I baulked. But then I thought about it. And when I really thought about it, I realized the noticing of thoughts is part of the meditative process, because when else do we actually notice our thought process? For example, on a commute to work, you’re probably already making a mental to-do list for your day without even realizing that while your focus is on the road, your thought process is ticking along.
However, if you don’t let your thoughts pass by you like a cute puppy crossing your path on the street and instead stop in your tracks, ask to pet the puppy, give the puppy all kinds of love, worry about your dog smelling the puppy when you get home, let the puppy lick your face, have an innate desire to get a puppy, wondering if you can find a corgi puppy, wonder if you can really manage a puppy with your schedule, consider if you can really afford a puppy, laugh about the puppy in front of you doing something funny, and…well, you see where I am going here. If you let a quick thought turn into a thought cyclone in which you go from needing milk to analyzing how cars with lane correction actually detect the lanes and correct for even slight swerves, then you have let it go too far. And I can honestly say, it does not take much to feel like a cyclone of thoughts has ruined a meditation session.
One can argue, however, just sitting down and making the attempt at focusing on breath — even if you cannot focus on more than two breaths before being distracted — means you are giving meditation a good honest try. The theory is, the more you try, the easier it gets, and while it make take time to quiet those thoughts, it is all about the process.
And after all, this is not a math equation, there is no right way to meditate. Only you can define that for yourself.
Emma discovered yoga as a supplement to her gym workouts in 2012, but by 2013 her gym visits lessened and so did her visits to the yoga studio. With encouragement from her mental health providers, Emma started practicing yoga at home in 2016 and found Samudra in the spring of 2017 when she signed up for a “mantra, movement, and meditation” workshop. It was love at first “om” and her practice flourished from there. As a writer with a digital marketing background, she writes for Samudra’s blog and newsletter. Emma is also enrolled in Samudra’s first Fluid Yoga teacher training, expecting to complete her 200 hour training by the end of April 2018. When she’s not on the mat, Emma enjoys time with her corgi, Savvy, reading, and writing.