Deepening the Practice
lululemon Brookfield Place Ambassador Luke Mcleod’s tips to help deepen your meditation
It seems like everyone you speak to right now is talking about meditation, and although I am in obvious favor of this increasing interest, being a meditation teacher, I am also cautiously nervous. Because, like most things, when it’s spread too thin, it can lose its substance.
These simple suggestions will help make meditation a lifelong, enjoyable habit, and not just the latest wellness flavour of the month. If you don’t meditate or maybe have only tried it once or twice, these tips may serve you well in picking up a regular meditation practice.
Approach meditation the opposite way to learning any other new skill.
When I first started meditating I treated it like any other new project or skill. I set out determined to learn and master it. Reading countless books, attending courses and spending hours clicking through Youtube tutorials, I thought I was learning so much but felt I was still struggling with the practice itself. How could this be? I asked myself, and then it hit me.
Meditation is a process of surrendering to the present moment. Here I was trying to control it, telling the practice what it should be doing for me. I had it all backwards and was holding meditation back from doing it’s magic.
You see, when there’s a ‘want’ or ‘expectation’ attached to meditation, it struggles. Because the ‘self’ otherwise known as our ‘ego’ is trying to take control. e.g. ‘I want meditation to help me relax etc.’ and meditation works when we surrender the self (our wants) and simply accept and experience the present moment for what it is.
Progress will come in the depth not in the breadth.
This is probably one of the biggest problems I’m seeing right now in the western meditation/mindfulness space. Our relentless pursuit for more. What’s next? Even if this desire to experience more is more ethical than pursuing material goals, it still violates one of the natural laws of meditation. That you need nothing. Just be here now.
If you’re constantly looking for the latest meditation secret, technique or hack that comes out, you’re going to miss out on the whole point of meditation. Experiencing the present moment.
So whenever I get asked ‘so, what now?’ in regards to meditation, my reply is usually something along the lines of ‘Well can you feel the breeze on your face right now? That’s what’s now’.
It’s Ok to start over. In fact it’s encouraged.
There will always be times throughout meditation when you’ll feel agitated or frustrated now and then. This could be due to suppressed emotions coming up, you’re trying too hard, or a recent stress experience lingering in the body/mind e.g. your boss yelled at you earlier in the day.
When/if you encounter this, don’t try to push through it. This will just make you feel more agitated which could then lead you actually resenting meditation.
Instead, try the following: Take a big clearing breath in and out and shake out your body,. Literally, shake your hands out, bend your neck, and reset yourself. This will flush out the agitation and allow you to wipe the slate clean. Then calm your breathing and return to the meditation.
One thing I say at the beginning of every meditation class now is “Ok, wipe the slate clean.” Meaning, let go of any previous experiences you’ve had with meditation. By doing this it frees you from any expectations and allows you to be more open to experiencing the present moment.
Accepting that meditation won’t fix your problems.
There’s a lot of promises out there on what meditation can do for you. It is often positioned and even ‘sold’ like a solution to your problems. Do this and it will help with that. Almost like a prescription. But meditation does not fix your problems, it is an exercise to help put you into a better mindset/state to approach them.
If you treat meditation as something that needs to be done, like a chore, you’re not going to stick with it, let alone enjoy it. Instead treat meditation as time to release and relax. Just like the act of kicking off your shoes after a long day or having a nice hot shower. Meditation is your time to let go and relax.
It’s something to simply look forward to and enjoy. Speaking of which, my last tip is just that...
I personally think a lot of us are taking meditation too seriously these days. Discipline, like with any new habit, will certainly help with the results you experience, but, like I touched on in the above tip, if you see it as a means to an end, you’re missing out on so much of what meditation can do for you.
Meditation is an adventure of the present moment. Life itself. The here and now. Something to be embraced and cherished. I can’t wait to meditate. It’s like eating my favourite meal or traveling to a new beautiful location. What is this moment going to show me?
Have fun with your meditation practice! By doing so it will open you up to experience extraordinary, beautiful, uniting moments in life.