Finding Stillness Everyday

One of the most sought-after benefits of meditation is to help the practitioner achieve a stress-free life by cultivating stillness in the mind. It's not easy to cut away the mental chatter or break away from the thoughts of a million things you need to do.  And it's only recently that I found meditation less of a trial, and begun to experience some of its benefits. On the occasions where meditation went smoothly for me, I found that I had greater clarity, and felt more uplifted afterwards. Here are some of the things I've learned along the way: 1. DON'T FORCE IT The first few times I tried meditating, I almost gave up. The moment I sat down, my mind started wandering. Even today, it's all I could do to sit quietly for 5-10 minutes. But I've learned that instead of trying to fight my thoughts and feel even more frustrated that calmness is not washing over me, I just concentrate on those the things that come to mind, let it linger for a while, then let it go. 2. MAKE A CONDUCIVE SPACE Granted, you can meditate anytime, anywhere. But I do recommend that beginners, like myself, try to set a scene that's free of distractions to ease into the process better.  For me, I first trawl YouTube for a yoga music playlist that strikes my fancy, light my favourite lemongrass-scented tea candle, dim the lights and plop myself down on my mat, back against the wall, with a pillow supporting my lower back.  3. CHOOSE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU Sit however you like (take a Padmasana, Sukhasana or Virasana pose, if you will), wear whatever you like (if you feel you need to wear your yoga pants or change into your PJs to get into a meditative mood, so be it!), and most importantly, find the right technique of meditation for you.   If you've been attending yoga classes regularly, you might have encountered instructors who like to include a bit of meditation in their classes. Sometimes you get into it, sometimes you don't.  I've never been able to concentrate fully in the body-scan meditation (running through the entire body to find awareness), nor the Trataka meditation (gazing upon a fixed point). What works best for me though, is simply practicing mindfulness. It's easier for me to settle myself in the here and now, and just be. Even if I have distracting thoughts, I accept it as part of being in this moment, and wait for it to pass. Eventually, everything stills.  I hope you'll find these little pointers useful in guiding you on your own meditation journey!  Cheryl Leong (200hr Hatha/Ashtanga Weekends – July 2015)