“Doing anything with attention to how you feel is doing yoga.” –Jean Couch
My first experience with meditation was probably very similar to yours. Most people feel the same way when they start out. For such a simple task, it can be extremely daunting. A few years ago, I had done some research, read a few articles, and thought to myself... “Right. Seems to have massive benefits with very little effort. Let’s give it a go”. Easy enough, right? Just sit and clear the mind. Turns out, once I got started, I ran into some reluctance. After a few attempts, it seemed I was never doing anything correctly. I struggled to find any concrete result of my efforts.
This is what I started to believe was necessary for meditation:
My environment must be silent and distraction-free.
I should have a completely quiet mind throughout my meditation.
The entire operation should last at least 20 minutes for it to be considered worthwhile.
At the start, I was becoming discouraged quickly, because my mind would refuse to quiet down. My thoughts jumped from one to the other, and it was incredibly frustrating. Or I would sit down to meditate and there would be some minor external distraction; say, a neighbour mowing his lawn, or a police siren in the distance. Unacceptable. I would give up and wait for a more opportune time. There were many days where I found myself too busy to carve out 20+ minutes of "nothing", so I would simply not meditate at all.
Fortunately, after some persistence and external guidance, I learned none of these things were necessary for meditation. I started listening to guided sessions online, and attending meditations being offered at my local yoga studio. When I began my training with Evolation, I had the space to practice my meditation everyday, supported by like-minded people with the same passion. We tried different styles of meditation and had discussions about our experience. I heard many different perspectives, but they all fundamentally said the same thing.
This is what I took from those perspectives:
Meditation is simply awareness.
Meditation does not need to be such a formal, regimented exercise. You don’t need to be dressed in white, in lotus pose, hovering over a flat rock in the middle of the forest. After I realized this, I learned how to meditate in more accessible moments throughout my everyday life. While brushing my teeth, walking down the road, eating my breakfast -- I would bring my full attention to whatever immediate task was in that present moment.
Rather than fretting over the intricacies of the method or the outcome (which defeats the whole purpose), I just let my life play out in real-time. Without being distracted by the past or the future, I let all those thoughts fall away so I could simply observe, with full awareness. And if those thoughts persisted, well, I would simply observe those as well. No judgements, no attachments, no stress.