I remember the first time I gave meditation a try. I was in college, it was my second year and I was on one of my spiritual kicks that usually lasted for less than 2 weeks, enough time to feel inspired and renewed until the reality of my depression and anxiety presented themselves again. My father is a preacher so my religious exposure happened in your typical church setting where you worshipped alongside others by singing songs together and nodding your head at the preacher when he shared something potentially thought provoking or relevant to your life. As powerful as it is to surround yourself with others in your spiritual journey, there is a certain routine that somehow didn’t nourish and sustain me. When I realized that I could develop a more spiritual, intimate practice that would help me focus on my spiritual experience, not that of the church’s agenda, I was intrigued. No sale pitch needed, I was all in.
Since high school, I have battled with severe depression and anxiety, so as if meditation isn’t complicated enough, I really struggled with settling the thoughts that were infiltrated by despair, confusion, and constant lows. I have to admit, I became super envious of the people that seemed to just lose themselves in the process by just simply closing their eyes and drifting away. But, just as they say, there’s no ego in yoga, the same applies here. See, the thing about practicing mindfulness is that there’s no competition. Being aware of where you are, regardless of the state of mind, is all that matters. When I talk to people about their meditation process, you know what I’ve come to find? Each person has their own style, their own version that they have modified that works for them. I’ve found myself struggling a little more than usual and recently asked an intuitive counselor what her insight was, and I absolutely loved her response. Meditation can occur anywhere, movement or not.
For the beginner who is struggling with those distracting thoughts or reminders of the day ahead (dinner recipes seem to always reveal themselves when I’m trying to quieten the mind), a guided visualization is an awesome way to help you stay centered and connected throughout your meditation. You just need to be committed in guiding yourself in visualization. The first intuitive counselor I ever worked with led me in a guided meditation similar to the one that I still use for myself today:
Visualize a pillar of white light within the 4 corners of the room, and a beautiful ball of sparkling white light in the center of the room that draws away lower thought-forms, energies, emotions, and brings forth love, warmth, healing and protection. And with every breath, this beautiful sparkling light is growing larger and larger, pulsating past the walls, the ceiling and floor, and even larger past the whole building and city block.
It’s kind of like a good run. If you go all in without a warm up, you’re just setting yourself up for failure half way through. Grounding yourself in this visualization not only requires you to focus on the imagery, but you’re immersed in a state of solace and peace. And when a thought comes in, acknowledge it, and just let it go. But the second you find yourself not connecting with your session, stop. There’s no need to remain frustrated and defeated, so be kind with yourself. Setting the intention to want to focus inward and devote time to your self-enlightening is celebration in itself.
The second thing I would recommend is the right music to get lost in. Personally, I am a fan of Jai-Jagdeesh. Her voice is to die for, and most of her songs are chants and Sanskrit prayers that are used in Kundalini Yoga. If there is just one song you should listen to, let it be “I Am Thine.” No kidding, I put that song on repeat when I meditate. Speaking of chants, focusing on a specific word or affirmation is amazing in not allowing anything to disrupt your focus. Especially when it’s powerful and moving, you’re investing so much of your heart-centered energy into words that are resonating with you, those stray thoughts don’t stand a chance.
I have a million other things to say of the subject, after all I have been practicing for nearly 10 years, but I’m going to break this down into a few posts. I will later talk about how I’ve used meditation to overcome my depression and anxiety. And if you’re really serious about your practice, I’ll add some more “advanced” props that you can throw into the mix.
Practice mindfulness. Remain present. Be Lifted.
Love and blessings,