In her new column for getthegloss.com, Jillian explains why you don’t need to sit cross legged on a beach to meditate correctly.
Do a Google image search for “meditation”.
The pictures you’ll see are people sitting in some uncomfortable, cross-legged position, with a perfectly straight back, by a lake or a beach, next to a beautifully balanced pile of stones, with the sun rising and their hands in some yoga-like pose.
No wonder so many people believe that having a daily meditation practice is going to be tricky!
It’s time we debunk some of the myths around what correct meditation looks like.
The truth: you don’t need to sit in some weird, pretzel position in order to meditate. You don’t need to be on the beach where the only sounds around you are the waves lapping against the shore. You don’t need to be uncomfortable. You don’t need to spend a lot of time going to a dedicated meditation space.
I’ve taught thousands of busy people to meditate. One of the things they love is how easy it is to fit in to their jam-packed lives. And it’s one of the major reasons why they stick to a twice-a-day meditation programme. Here are some important points:
YOU CAN MEDITATE ON THE MOVE
Your commute is a perfect time for meditation. Trains, planes, buses and cars (as long as you’re not driving!) are all great places. As long as you can get a seat and safely close your eyes, you can meditate. And let’s face it – we all spend a lot of time getting to places. Rather than frittering away 20 minutes scanning your Instagram feed, simply close your eyes and rest your mind and body more deeply than sleep. One of my students in New York has stopped taking the express train in to Manhattan each day. She now gets the local train so she can get a seat and do her morning meditation. She used to dread her commute – now she can’t wait to get on the train and close her eyes. Rather than arriving at the beginning of her work-day feeling frazzled and angry, she feels calm, clear and ready to go.
IT’S BEST IF YOU SIT COMFORTABLY WITH YOUR BACK SUPPORTED
Correct meditation is a practice of letting go of control and effort. It takes effort to sit for any reasonable length of time in the lotus position without any back support. Only when you let go of trying to maintain a certain posture can you truly relax. It’s important to be comfortable. Not so comfortable that you are lying down, but you shouldn’t be in pain. A woman I spoke to recently said she’d been to a meditation class where she was expected to sit in lotus position without moving a muscle for an hour and a half! No surprise, she limped out after an hour feeling like a failed meditator. That’s a shame, because despite sensing that meditation was an important life-tool she thought she couldn’t do it.
NOISE IS NO BARRIER TO MEDITATION
We live in a noisy world. Planes overhead. Traffic. Loud neighbours. Announcements over the loudspeaker. In-store music (why must it be so loud?). If doing your meditation depends on everything being perfectly still and quiet, then it’s not going to happen with much regularity. It’s not practical and actually, it’s not necessary. When you know how to meditate properly, you learn that any thoughts you have about noises are not obstacles to correct meditation. The other day I was meditating at Heathrow while waiting for my plane. I had my bag on my lap, surrounded by crowds of people and I was able to meditate just fine. At various moments in the meditation I was aware of noises around me and other times, less so. It’s all good. Anytime you can sit down, close the eyes and let the mind and body drop down a gear it’s going to be good for you.
Meditation is an ancient science that is completely doable in our modern age. It’s not something that is only for the bendy yoga types. It’s not something that requires you to leave the city to be in nature. You can do it anywhere. And when you do, you will feel clearer, more energised and less anxious.