By Karen Kwan
Many of us have no problem with trying any number of daring new things, and yet the idea of trying meditation is completely intimidating to us. So much so that we shy away from trying the practice whatsoever.
Fear of failure is one of the big reasons people avoid meditation, says Michelle Currie, found of Meditative Arts, a creativity and wellness program in Toronto. “To most non-meditators, the practice means sitting for hours in silence to quiet the mind. Even though this isn’t necessarily true, it’s still pretty intimidating if you can’t even sit still for five minutes!” she says.
Another reason? People fear they’ll become all new age-y. Here’s some good news if patchouli and ethnic tunics aren’t really your style: “While meditation may change how you perceive your surroundings and transform your worldview, I assure you it won’t change anything without your permission!” says Michelle.
If you’re still reading this, though, you probably are a little bit intrigued by the concept. You’ve probably heard much about mindfulness meditation, and perhaps have always wondered what that means. “Mindfulness meditation combines your inner and outer environments. You become aware of what you’re experiencing in the present moment,” says Michelle. “So, for example, as I meditate I’m bringing awareness to my breath, the tension in my shoulders, the car tires against the pavement outside, the warm air brushing across my ear,” she says. Compared to other types of meditation where you are focusing on one thing–a mantra, mandala or visualization, for example.
Why you should pick up the practice? “When practiced regularly, and in as little as eight weeks, it boosts alertness, learning, memory and concentration,” says Michelle. Another significant benefit: It can lower anxiety.
Sound good? Well, if you’re ready to give it a shot, she strongly recommends taking time to discover the right type of meditation for you. The mindfulness meditation she teaches through her workshops incorporate drumming and movement meditation, however, you may find that empty-mind meditation is a better match for you, or that even another mind/body modality such as yoga is more suitable for you. Be patient with discovering what works best for you, says Michelle.
And here’s some good news: your first step to trying meditation on your own can be as easy as taking 10 deep breaths. “To start slowly on your own, take 10 breaths when you wake up and when you go to bed. Pay attention to your body with each inhale and exhale,” she says.