Dear Therapist: A Meditation Stance

Woman practices mindfulness at the beach

Dear Therapist:

I enjoy being able to hold a meditation stance on a daily basis, but I feel pressure to have to meditate for awhile — like thirty minutes or so. Although this is what I think I should do, I’ll admit I lose interest, my mind wanders, and it’s beginning to feel more like a chore than a time to get in touch with myself by being mindful in such a stance. How much is too much or not enough?

Sincerely, Too In My Head

Good for you for finding that meditation works for you for any time at all. The idea of meditation is exactly as you describe, i.e. a time for you to get in touch with your own mind by settling it into a quiet stance for a period of time.

However, the amount of time is not prescribed. It certainly can feel otherwise in our society, as many people go to meditation sessions and/or retreats and are “taught” how to meditate, which often includes some prescribed length of time to make your session “legitimate.”

In fact, meditation is a practice for you that is practiced based on how it feels for you. It is a completely unique practice with no right or wrong way to do it. If you are sitting in one place, with eyes closed, and legs crossed for thirty minutes that may be driving you crazy with your practice.

My suggestion: bust your meditation out! First, decide if thirty minutes is, in fact, the amount of time you want to spend. If not, decide for yourself what is the right amount of time. This can vary by day and by week. Whatever it is, make the time frame work for you.

Second, is your meditative stance working for you? Many people like to engage in a walking meditation or creative meditation via art supplies. Perhaps sitting in one place for thirty minutes hits it right for you one day and the next day sitting in a meditative space while you draw may be just right or, on other days, grabbing your dog, your hiking boots, and heading to a trail to meditate in the woods is perfect. Whatever your meditative stance, it is absolutely unique to you.

Finally, drop any thoughts that the way you are meditating is wrong. Meditation is a unique practice that is private. Being true to yourself and making yourself feel comfortable and engaged with your practice are the keys to meditating well for one’s self.

The Long Rope of Restlessness

Roping in One’s Restlessness

All of us experience some level of anxiety. It’s normal. We are humans and we worry about a whole host of things – real and imagined in our minds. Most of what we are anxious over is never going to come to pass. Alternatively, it can definitely be something that is going to happen in a matter of time. Either way, how to calm one’s anxious mind amidst these stormy seas?

I have always been drawn to taking a few moments and picturing a thick, long piece of rope – sort of like the one in the picture in this post. In my mind, though, the rope is one long strand. I think about all of my worries and concerns and as I do in my mind I picture myself picking up one end of this heavy mental rope with my two hands.

I find it is hard to pick up the rope, but I struggle and pick it up. From there, I pull the rope in to myself — literally “roping in my restlessness.” As i pull it in to myself, I picture all of the knots and knobs of my worries and concerns related to whatever I am feeling anxious about.

I continue to pull the rope in to myself until I have none left, i.e. all of my concerns, cares, worries have been pulled in and gathered up. My restlessness regarding the matter is contained within me and to a large degree settled as I have faced all of the matter and pulled it in so that it does not have me flinging around in my mind making my life overwrought with anxiety, but rather I have allowed myself time to reflect, give time to the whole of the matter, and contain it within me.

All the while, I remind myself all of this will come to fruition and pass one way or another. After this little meditation, I am often able to move my mind and day on to other things that are no longer hampered by my anxious state.

Rope in your restlessness and calm your anxious mind.

Book Review: Be More Yoda

Be More Yoda

I feel like my holiday season was full of Yoda! First off, I met Baby Yoda – actually the character is known as “The Child” – on the new Disney show, Mandalorian. For me, he may be a child, but he looks like the grandson of Yoda — thus, he is Baby Yoda to me. He seemed to have the inklings of wisdom like his elders as well. How fun to watch the show and this character.

And then a friend gave me this book for the holiday season – Be More Yoda. In this little coffee table book, one can find all of the wisdom from Yoda, who encourages us all to be mindful in our thinking. I certainly could use these little bite-sized bits of wisdom that Baby Yoda already seems to be taking up.

It’s the usual fare of mindfulness, but done in Yoda fashion. He reminds us:

  • Be present
  • Don’t fear failure
  • Focus your mind
  • Play
  • Be yourself

Basic tenants of mindful living, but what a fun way to deliver the concepts, especially if you love Star Wars and Yoda most of all!

Be More Yoda Indeed!

A Mindful Moment

Take a Moment for You

Mindfulness. It’s all the buzz. I even subscribe to a magazine titled – what else? – Mindful!

I appreciate this idea of bringing one’s mind to whatever one is undertaking. Many people feel it has to do with meditating for long periods of time – and I must admit the mindfulness magazine often heads into that territory – or that you must go to yoga, let your body flow, and be mindful. At least my mind always goes to either of these options – and, truth be told, I don’t appreciate either one.

However, a Mindful Moment I can get into almost every day.

Really, I would call it more of a “check in” with myself. I stop for a moment – that’s enough time – and simply ask myself, “How am I feeling right here, right now?” Do I have any muscle tension or other pain in my body? Am I feeling anxious or worried or nervous? Am I feeling happy or just neutral?

It’s a little moment for me.

A moment to bring awareness to where I am on any given day in any given moment. It’s a practice that sounds easy as it hardly takes any time and can be done anywhere. However, the practice of stopping for even a moment and checking in with self can be a major challenge, especially if you haven’t done it in the past or feel that it is not really being mindful…to be mindful means the yoga class or some lengthy meditation practice.

Jumping those mental hurdles to claim a mindful moment for yourself is the challenge.

I recommend you try it though…when you come to mind, stop and pay attention to your self in any way that feels right for you.

After the moment has passed, pat yourself on the back, as you were just “mindful!”