There’s a downside to meditation going mainstream.
Sure, it’s exciting that meditation is an accepted self-care and spiritual practice and that more people are talking about it as a tool for relaxation and healing. I mean, that’s how I discovered meditation. But sometimes, meditation can seem… a little pretentious. Kind of like how yoga went from being an ancient Indian spiritual practice to being a way for bendy white women to show off on Instagram. (#notallyogis.) (I love yoga.)
I try to meditate every morning — which means I actually meditate about four to five times a week. I’ve had super-powerful meditation sessions full of full-body chills and sensations of elevation, and I’ve had boring meditation sessions where I basically just close my eyes and wait for it to be over. But it’s all meditating, and it rarely looks how you imagine it would.
If you’re interested in started a meditation practice — or aren’t feeling fulfilled by your current meditation practice — here are some small adjustments that helped make my practice less pretentious and more profound.
1. Don’t Worry About Sitting Up Straight (At First)
Traditionally, you’re supposed to meditate while sitting up straight, so that your spine is in line with your neck and energy can freely flow upwards towards the ~heavens~. It’s thought that if you’re slouching, or lying down, or not centered, then energy won’t flow and you won't be able to reap the benefits of meditation.
That’s all well and good (and true, I’m sure), but sometimes, sitting up straight is more of a distraction than a help. For example: Where my people with bad backs at?! I had lower back surgery almost 10 years ago, and sitting up straight is really painful for me. Whenever I would meditate in a seated position, I got nowhere — I just fidgeted and tried to find some release, focusing on how shitty my back felt. Obviously, not ideal conditions for meditating.
When I let myself meditate while lying down, however, everything changed. With the pain and discomfort gone, my mind was blown — I was able to go deeper, go longer, and forget about my body completely.
The goal is to strengthen my back through yoga and eventually be able to meditate sitting up without pain. But until then, screw it. I’m lying down.
2. Don’t Force Yourself To Do It In Silence
For me, silent meditation is overrated. And if you’re just starting out, sitting in silence is hard. I prefer mantra- and music-based meditation, and I’m not ashamed to say that I pretty much exclusively meditate to YouTube tracks.
What I love about picking a YouTube video to meditate to is that you can choose how long you want to go — five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes; there are even two-minute meditation tracks if you’re just looking for a quick hit. Just search for what you want, and I guarantee YouTube has it.
As I queue up the track, I decide on a mantra to repeat in my head throughout the meditation. The mantra can be a classic (like the Kundalini favorite “Satnam,” which translates to “Truth is my name”) or something you make up. Some of my favorites are:
For calling in love: I am love, I give love, and I receive love.
For calling in abundance: I am worth never having to worry.
For calling in clear skin (yes, I do this): I am beautiful on the inside, and it shines through the outside.
Pick a mantra, pick a track, and relax.
3. Turn your gaze toward your third eye.
When my eyes are closed in meditation, it’s hard to know where to focus. I’ll see little scenes play out on the backs of my eyelids, or see moving colors and patterns, and my eyes will flick back and forth, taking in the visions that are happening and, in turn, distracting me. But I learned a quick fix for this in Kundalini class the other day: Turn your focus toward your third eye.
For those not in the know, the third eye is located in the center of the forehead. So when your eyes are closed, flick your focus up and to the center — AKA, the third eye. Keep your closed eyes glued to that spot, and eventually, it’ll feel effortless. Promise.
Do you meditate? What methods/mantras/music do you use to get deep into your practice?