Recently, I’ve been asked many times if I meditate by various people, and what my opinions of meditation are. For the people who know me, they know I can’t sit still for more than a couple minutes at a time, mostly because if I do, my stegaback tells me it’s not happy. It likes good movement.
Stega. Can you spot it? Believe it or not, this is actually good for my back!!
For the record, pre-stega, I was able to sit/stand still for hours on end. When you’re a black belt in martial arts at belt testings, you have to stand for the duration of test while you watch others be tested....and you’re on call for being their testing opponent. I had to learn how to stand in the same spot, same position for a couple hours without making my joints hurt too badly.
But now, with the stega, I’m forced to change positions every couple minutes or so (unless I’m lying down), so I don’t cause any pain for the next few days. Anyone with a bad back will be able to relate to that.
This is how I sit. If I'm lucky.
Having the stega has forced me to find different ways to accomplish the same things I did without the stega. Movement has been big in my life, and so has being mindful. As I got repeatedly formally introduced to meditation by a few people in the past several years, I realized that meditation is more about the state of mind and self-awareness than it is about sitting still with your legs crossed in silence. The things you accomplish during meditation should be pretty simple and clear: Know yourself more. Tune out the rest of the noise. Have a clear mind and concise intention.
I believe these things can be done without silence. I believe they can be done without sitting or not moving. Of course, you can choose to meditate the traditional way if that works for you, but I don’t think it’s the only way.
In school, I could never just study or even listen to lectures with complete focus without some sort of distraction. I would even tell my professors that I would have facebook open to provide short-term distractions so I could listen and pay attention to the lecture better. Sometimes I’d doodle. Sometimes I’d do work from other classes. I just needed something else there so that I could pay attention.
Eating, for example, you can meditate. You can be aware of what food is in front of you. Where the food came from, how it was cooked, what each bite tastes like, what the texture is. How’s the temperature? How do you feel when you put each bite in your mouth? Are you getting satiated? Should you eat more? Do you need more? Does this food make you feel good, clean, light, and satisfied? Do you need to add something to it, or is it fine the way it is?
By the way, meditative eating is an excellent way for people recovering from eating/food disorders to prevent going back into their old habits. Mindless eating is one of the biggest reasons why people eat too much.
Some people use movement for their meditation. Even something as simple and common as walking. How do your feet feel on the ground? Where is your weight distributed? How does the rest of your body feel while walking? Are you walking with good posture? Is your torso rotating? Hips rotating? Good heel strike? Good supination and pronation? How is your pinky toe doing over there?
And yet another form of meditation is just simply good goal-setting. Writing down things you want to get done. Why you want to get to that goal, and how to get there. What are the steps you need to take, what obstacles are you likely to encounter, and how are you going to approach those obstacles?
Meditating is just clearing out the noise and getting to know yourself a little better. Slow down, ask yourself questions, and notice how certain things make you feel, inside and out. You don’t have to sit in silence to make it work. Sometimes you need a little distraction to make the noise go away.