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Does the Thought of Meditation Make You Cringe?

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

I have been meditating in the morning for almost a decade now. It's how I start my day (after a cup of tea or coffee, of course). I have the same chair I sit in. The same affirmations I recite before I go into stillness. Just me and my breath. Inhale, exhale.

But when I mention to people I meditate, I get mixed reactions. Actually, mostly blank looks and a quick turn of the subject.

This has me thinking, does the thought of meditation actually make people cringe or feel uncomfortable?

I have heard some people say they have tried meditation but it it makes them feel angry, irritated, or light-headed. Or quite simply like they are wasting their time!

I get it.

These are very normal responses. The act of meditation can seem like it goes against the ordinary flow of our noisy, activity-driven lifestyle. After all, our jobs demand productivity. We are expected to cram our heads full of information. We are not paid to sit still, or to just be. And the ones who do sit still -- well, they are lazy lumps mooching off the rest of us, or the system.

But this act of quieting the mind and being still for a few minutes with intentionality can actually create some much needed space. And this inner spaciousness can have profound effects on our personal and working lives.

However, many of us are not comfortable being with ourselves. Many of us do whatever we can so that we don't have to be with ourselves! And there are any number of distractions that can ensure we don't need to be with ourselves. (Binge-watch anything lately?!)

The pandemic is forcing us to be with ourselves in many unexpected ways. Some of us are handling this sanctioned time with grace. Others? Not so much.

So what does this have to do with meditation?

Simple: When we meditate, we are forced to slow ourselves down and to just be.

And why would we want to do that?

To listen to the voice within. Our inner guide. Our lost companion. Our True Self who patiently waits to be acknowledged and heard.

It is this voice that speaks to us in gentle whispers and feeds into our awareness gentle guidance for any number of issues, problems, or worries we may have. The key is to not engage in those issues, problems, or worries. The task is to simply sit and listen.

The guidance will not come in the form of a holy voice over a loud speaker in your ears. Rather, it will come as you go about your day, so long as you continue to build this quality time with yourself.

The more you invite yourself into stillness and quiet, the louder the voice will grow in terms of your feelings and intuition. Your answers to any number of dilemmas will come. So will inspiration.

The challenge for many remains, what about the anger/irritation that sitting in silence can bring up? The light headedness? The thoughts that I should be doing something else, something more useful?

Those are temporary thoughts that you may have for the first day, and very likely for several days after. The anger, which may come up, may even be unprocessed emotion such as sadness or grief that hasn't been allowed to surface.

Remember, when we keep ourselves extremely busy, we bury many of our emotions because they incite pain within us, so why would we want to bring that to the forefront? We, then, unconsciously continue the cycle of busyness, productivity, distraction, and exhaustion.

But if you do develop a short and simple meditation practice of just a few minutes, and truly, it needn't be longer or more fancy than that, you can build for yourself, precious calm and a lightness within you. You can make friends with yourself (again).

What I recommend is this:

  • After waking up and doing your bathroom business, go and mindfully enjoy a beverage of your choice.

  • Sip and it savor it without the distraction of tv, phone or computer. Have a light snack or breakfast if you desire, and savor it.

  • Find a place in your home that feels cozy, quiet, and inviting.

  • Find a chair that invokes the same feelings. Or a place on the floor, if that is what you prefer.

  • Play a few minutes of calming music (preferably without lyrics) to create a sense of peacefulness.

  • Turn off the music and close your eyes.

  • Optional - set an intention for your meditation or say a prayer or affirmation, "I desire to sit in this space of calm..."

  • Feel your body, and bring awareness to your breath.

  • Tune into your breathing as your anchor

  • Allow your thoughts to cease and for your mind to go upward - you can picture yourself getting in a beautiful glass elevator and watching it take you upward while you temporarily leave your world behind; you can use the image of an air balloon, or sitting atop a mountain. Find what works for you. But do go upward so that your problems are below you, while your vantage is high.

  • Be in this state of quietude for however many minutes feel right. When you're starting off a meditation practice, 2 minutes is perfectly ok! You can gradually build it up to at least 10 minutes.

  • If too many thoughts start to arise, continue to visualize yourself going upward and away from your 'earthly' concerns.

  • If too many emotions arise, breathe into them and let them surface. Trust that this is what needs to happen in this moment for you.

  • After you have sat for the length of time that feels right, open your eyes and let the quiet, calm, and spaciousness wash over you.

  • Some of you may wish to set an intention for the day at this point, or to write a few thoughts in a journal, or to simply get on with your day.

Whatever the case, just do you! But do stick with your meditation practice, or some variation of it for a few days (or more), consistently, and see what blossoms.

And if after all this, it still makes you cringe, you may wish to reflect on the line of The Invitation by Oriah:

"I want to know

if you can be alone with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep"

Copyright Tehmina Meherali, February 2021

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