This blog post isn’t about toting the benefits of meditation and why you should do it. There are enough articles about that. I’m going to show you the characters you’ll meet on the road to developing a meditation practice.
Wait, did I just hear you say you never wanted to meditate regularly? That you simply gave it a try and found it wasn’t your cup of tea?
Are you sure you didn’t run into a few characters who made it a little more challenging than expected? Do Restless Regina, Busy Bobbie, Are We There Yet Annie, Mark the Monkey Mind or Ernie Expectation sound familiar?
If yes, it’s ok. In all honesty, they can be a real pain in the butt. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: we all face these same characters, even after years of practice. Awareness changes your acceptance for what is. What if you didn’t know what rain was, and all of a sudden water fell from the sky? 🤯 MIND BLOWN! But we all know it rains, so when droplets fall on a beautiful sunny day we aren’t thrown into 🐥 Chicken Little alien crisis-mode. It may not be comfortable, but, we can work with it. Awareness allows discomfort to land softer. As you get better at noticing the tells when these characters slink into your meditation journey, their arrival may become more peaceful – a friendship possibly made.
So why bother to give meditation another try? Take a moment to remember why you wanted to start in the first place? Here are a few ways this scientifically proven practice can keep us calm, cool and collected:
- Reduce stress
- Manage anxiety
- Build self-awareness
- Support emotional health
- Improve clarity and focus
- Get a better sleep
- Decrease blood pressure
Plus there are the lesser known benefits that you won’t find in Psychology Today. Like the comfiness of meditation cushions, setting aside me-time, a reason to light another divine smelling candle, or maybe even levitation or astral travel (for you bold ones).
Let me introduce you to everyone and share some tips on how to be still and observe when they sneak up on you.
The friends that you’ll meet on the way to Meditation Land
Meet Restless Regina
The go-go-go, fast-talking friend who is constantly on the move. Motion is a natural state for them and, even when seated she vibrates with energy. Her “get stuff done” energy is a superpower when you’re on a mission, but on the road to Meditation Land, she tends to race by and miss it altogether.
There is no golden rule that says you have to be still to meditate. That said, stillness slows you down and heightens your awareness of the present moment. Sitting still leads to inner stillness, but Restless Regina has a hard time being still. She will keep your attention on surroundings and your body so you won’t get to sink into the present moment.
Restless Regina’s tells:
- Fidgeting, ceaseless moving about, constantly adjusting your posture
- Fixing things like clothing, hair and other items on or around you
- Biting your lip
Meet Busy Bobbie
Even before you start, anxiously tapping their toe and looking at their watch saying “there’s no time!” is Busy Bobbie.He has lists upon lists of to-dos for productivity. Somehow Busy Bobbie manages to fit in work, volunteering, multiple meetups and saving cats from treetops on the regular.
Meditation is not a priority, and is pushed aside for more important tasks. Even taking 3 deep breaths will be skipped because their schedule is jammed. Like Restless Regina, the routine of keeping busy is comforting. We love the drive and organization, but when you’re in Meditation Land we release the structures of time, and allow for more being and less doing, not Busy Bobbie’s strengths.
Busy Bobbie’s tells:
- Anxious thoughts that there is no time
- “Life’s crazy”, “I’m so busy”, “This is a waste of time”
- A pattern of pushing off anything that means slowing down
- Inner negotiation between sitting still or doing something else
Meet Are We There Yet Annie
A trip is not complete without the nagging comment “are we there yet?” Impatient sighs, eye rolling boredom and restlessness bring out Are We There Yet Annie, a close friend of Restless Regina.
After what seems like forever, Annie pulls out the clock and is in complete shock that only 45 seconds have passed. Not even a minute. Although Are We There Yet Annie’s sinking dread can suck the motivation right out, when acknowledged, her grumblings can turn into soft inner conversations guiding you back to Meditation Land.
Are We There Yet Annie’s tells:
- Endless clock checking
- “This is taking forever”, “How long is this going to be?”
- A “waiting for the bus” approach
- Judging your progress on the peaceful meter
Meet Mark the Monkey Mind
If your meditation goal is to stop your thoughts, then you should book an appointment with a brain surgeon. (Joking, please don’t alter your brain.) Thoughts get a bad rap in Meditation Land but Just because we decide to meditate doesn’t mean our thoughts can magically turn off.
That being said, Mark the Monkey Mind will feed you endless reams of thoughts. Thoughts of what you did, what you could have done better, the grocery list, the garbage you forgot to take out, the pimple on your face (honestly, you can’t even see it), the meeting you have in 2 days…. Mark can go on, and on, and on, which makes it really hard to slow down and be in awareness of the present moment.
Without Mark we couldn’t function. He helps us decide what to do and drives us to take action. Instead of constant detouring, an intentional relationship with Mark the Monkey Mind can help us focus on the Present, and be our greatest cheerleader on the Path to Meditation.
Cues to spot Mark the Monkey Mind:
- Variety of numerous thoughts swirling about in the mind
- Tracing back steps, reliving experiences, and fast forwarding into the future
- Judging opinions
Meet Ernie Expectation
New year’s resolutions, annual goals, personal bests and self improvement. Ernie Expectation is a friend who has been helping us grow for a long time, pushing us forward and gently nudging us out of comfort zones. He’ll eagerly hand you an itinerary mapped out in advance, guiding you along, advising how long to stay, what to experience and what will come next – all great things for most of your day, BUT it contradicts your path to Meditation Land.
The gift of Meditation Land is that you can fully explore without motive, calculation or judgement. Ernie’s five point plan will score your next promotion or help you save for the next vacay, but it’s extra baggage on the path to Meditation Land.
Cues to spot Ernie Expectation:
- Specific, rigid goals around meditation
- “Shoulds”, “Shouldn’ts”, “Good”, “Bad” mentality regarding your practice
- Measuring progress with negative inner dialogue when expectations aren’t met
- Feelings of not enough
Embrace them all
Whether you’re a beginner or have been meditating for years, you’ll meet all of these friends on the path to Meditation Land. When starting out, they may seem loud and proud, but it’s probably because you’ve never noticed them before. Embracing these friends is an important part of the journey to Meditation Land.
- Acknowledge their presence. Say hello when they join your practice
- Allow them to sit with you like a friend who says the oddest things
- Check in to see if they can support you in some way
- End the battle, soften the embrace. Remember, they are all part of your wonderful self.
Just like some friends are great to have drinks with, while others you can confide your deepest secrets to, the friends you meet along the path to Meditation Land are wonderful and have a purpose in your life. Understanding their value and role will transform them from distractions to coaches. Treat them like friends. Accept them for who they are. Even love them. They will eventually respect the space you need to cultivate a meditation practice, and become a part of your peaceful journey.