I Won’t Meditate

I won’t meditate. How can a yoga teacher trained over 20 years ago, long before yoga was the ubiquitous activity it is today say something as blasphemous as this?

Yes, that’s me. The yoga teacher and anti-meditator. Makes no sense, does it? Why not mediate? Especially when the benefits of meditation have been scientifically proven through research, and when my medical doctor in fact recommends it.

When I say, “I won’t meditate,” what I’m actually saying is that I won’t confine myself to the rigid ideas that so many of us, including myself, have when it comes to meditation. What do you think of when you hear the word “meditate”? I know what pops into my head –sitting alone in a room in total stillness, on an ugly cushion with my back so straight my spine aches just imagining it, trying to be calm, when a zillion thoughts are swirling through my middle aged, neurotic, Jewish mind.

That’s why I’ve given up on the word “meditation.” While many would argue that I do actually meditate, I had to let go of the m-word along with all of my preconceived notions about it, so that I could truly engage in a mindful practice and open myself to the healing benefits of contemplative self-observation.

What do I call this practice? Listening. What does it entail for me?  Here’s a brief description.

  1. Location –Inside or outside; both are fine.
  2. Position –Sometimes I like to lie down, other times sit, or stand.
  3. Motion –Gentle stillness, rolling around the floor, or quiet walking outside all work equally well.
  4. Sound –Silence is peaceful and most often a welcome preference, though singing or chanting mantra are beautiful alternatives that I enjoy on rare occasions.
  5. Awareness –In this process that I prefer to call “listening,” rather than “meditation,” I am simply stay present with myself and whatever is.

Many of you may be wondering, what does she actually do?! Well, my non-mediation of choice is gentle stretching. I like to lie down on the ground (I’ve usually been on my feet most of the day cooking, cleaning, and taking pictures for this website) and I want to recharge my adrenals (lying down helps with this).

During this practice I watch my thoughts float through my head like clouds in the sky. Sometimes this actually happens. At other times, my thoughts are less like clouds and more like children shouting for attention. It can get really loud in my head. Thankfully, hanging out with this cacophony for a few of minutes calms down the veritable storm of ideas, feelings and sensations that run through me. When I slow down and listen, I can hear what’s going on inside. Listening to myself, and being heard allows my mind to come into neutral, and that is when I begin to sink into my body and feel the bliss of true relaxation.

There’s a look into my daily relaxation practice! What do you do each day to nurture your body, mind and spirit?


71 responses to “I Won’t Meditate”

  1. I don’t meditate either but do use binaural beats to calm down, relax, tone down stress hormones. It usually only takes 10 minutes to feel completely relaxed.

  2. Thank you for posting what you’re going through. It’s inspirational to me. In June I had a stroke due to blood pressure issues which was due to stress. I live in western Colorado where there were no Functional medicine health care practitioners until recently. Lucky for me, my incredible chiropractor got a new patient who moved here from NY and he introduced the two of us. The medical doctors I was seeing almost killed me and I was scared every time I saw or talked to them. Now ‘m happy and optimistic. He wants me to learn to meditate to keep my blood pressure under control and I love what you wrote about it. Thank you.

  3. Happy New Year Elana

    All the very best of health to you and your family. I love reading your site and find your words inspirational and help me with my crazy life. Thank you for all your recipes and sharing of your world.
    Stay well and strong and breathe in 2016.

    • I was going to say the same thing ; listening is to meditate, and the definition of yoga includes the verb “meditate” :)

      • Absolutely, listening is meditation. It puts you in the present, alert state while you simply observe thoughts go by.

  4. I am Catholic so I do Christian meditation, which involves reading Scripture, meditating on the Word of God and sitting in silence listening and being present. Many times, I hear Jesus speak to me interiorly, He counsels and consoles. He is my best friend. I love my daily time with the Lord. I am so at peace when I have this quiet time.

  5. I’m an Episcopalian, so my few regular minutes to daily recharge comes from the Book of Common Prayer, but there are two other forms of meditation that are just as valuable to me – reading poetry, and walking in the woods. A couple of miles of trail with birdsong echoing in the canopy of trees and the fresh good smells of outdoors quiets my mind better than anything.

  6. I meditate for 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, with nature sounds or a guided meditation. Then, also, if I have time, I do a little EFT/tapping. The breakthroughs that I have from tapping are incredible, visceral, almost like little emotional explosions. I highly recommend if you’re working through past trauma, current stress, weight gain, whatever it may be!

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