My friend Darci and I had just completed a yoga class….we thought. We were pretty new to the practice of yoga, but had started to recognized some of the benefits taking root. We were pretty much ripped and tan and super relaxed. Those are the benefits you know– scientifically proven by us! Anyway, we thought we had come to the end of the routine, when the long haired, shirtless, sweaty instructor guy stated that he would like to end this session with some “OMS.” My friend and I looked at each other a little perplexed, but feeling open and a little more flexible with what the universe had to offer, thanks to the last hour of vinyasas, we just went with it. That was until the whole room, on his cue, started chanting, “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.” Oh my gosh! We had no clue what was going on! We each sat independently for bit, trying to hold it together, but it happened, we looked at each other and both totally and completely lost it! When you get the giggles in a room full of OMing people it is really difficult to pull it together. We really did try though. I think I ended up in child’s pose with my head buried in my arms and tears running onto my mat before I realized that Darci had ditched the dark chanting room. I got up and scampered out behind her. This was my first experience with the awkwardness of meditation. Even now, thinking of this, I still get the giggles.
Little did I know back in those days that 10 years later I would actually be making a concerted effort to understand and take up the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and even, you read it right, “OMs!” Last week I wrote about a message that God keeps giving my running and exhausted soul. The message to me is to “Be Still.” With this direction I feel like God has been giving me some helpful tools. One of the tools that keeps surfacing in conversation and literature, is meditation. I have made some good attempts at meditation up to this point, but I do resist. It just feels so awkward! Sitting silently with my cluttered and busy brain trying to think of nothing is really, really hard. I’ve got things to accomplish! I have a list of stuff to do today, and “NOTHING” is not on that list!
A few weeks ago I dropped my girls off at their dance class. I had one hour to get some exercise and try this meditation thing, for real, for the very first time. I took a little extra time with the exercise portion of my hour because come on, how often do I get an uninterrupted hour to go on a nice slow run? I knew I was resisting. When I got back to the parking lot, with 20 minutes left, I scanned the area for the quietest and most hidden place I could find. Across the street from this dance building is a huge cemetery– a quiet, secluded place with not too many live human bodies around. I figured if someone saw me meditating they would probably not be to bothered or weirded out. I sat there for the full 20 minutes. I was so proud of myself! I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. My mind was racing, but I just tried to be ok with what it was. I attempted to quiet my mind by listening to my breath, focusing on a scripture about stillness, and for a few minutes I even OM‘d! It felt strange and a bit awkward, but peaceful. I liked it!
Yesterday I came across a newspaper article. That’s right, an actual newspaper. The paper was sitting on my parent’s living room table and my mom laughingly mentioned that there was an article about meditation that I might like. We have a little running joke about how often the message of being still keeps coming up in my life, and she decided to join in the fun. So, I read it. I loved it. Here it is in case you don’t get the paper.
My two take-aways from this article are:
1- Starting meditation is awkward! In our busy, non stop culture it is normal to resist. It is normal to struggle, but with practice, it can become a great benefit physically, mentally, and spiritually.
2- It does not matter if you feel like you don’t know how to do it. Just start! I love the quote by Russ Mayes, “Don’t get caught up with the concept of doing it right. It’s not like weightlifting where improper form could cause injury. It’s more like watching a movie — if you are doing it, you are doing it right.”
What a relief! I is nice to know that I am not alone in this quiet awkwardness –that with practice comes a quiet mind and a still soul.
In closing, I have to admit that I am tempted to stay up super duper late and study benefits of meditation, find the top 10 meditation apps, give you the medical research being done right now by major medical schools around the country (here and here), and explain the different types of meditation. Instead, I am going let those much more well versed in meditation explain those things while I to choose stillness. I am going to go put on my pj’s, find a quiet corner and “OM”, perhaps a little awkwardly, for 10 minutes before going to an even more restful state, sleep.