Nowadays, it doesn’t take much for me to sit and meditate. Once I decide I want to, I go and do it. It wasn’t always like that. When I first started meditating, it took a lot for me to decide on a time and actually follow through with it. Being able to sit for more than just a few minutes at a time was another problem I faced.
My early struggles with meditation are well documented (My Second Attempt at Meditation and Roadblock to My Meditation Progress). In the past, it was difficult for me to meditate consistently and for a lengthy amount of time. A couple of the most notable difficulties for me were 1) getting in a comfortable position, and 2) not being easily distracted.
Getting in a Comfortable Position
Early on, I experimented with different sitting positions. First I tried sitting on the bed. Then I tried sitting on the bed with my back against the headboard. Then it was sitting on the floor on a yoga mat. After that, I tried sitting on a yoga mat with my back against the living room couch. When I moved to a new apartment, the floors were hardwood, so I moved back into the carpeted bedroom on a yoga mat. Finally, I now sit on a pillow placed on the carpet, which I have been using for the past couple months.
Using the pillow has been wonderful for me so far. I don’t fidget. I am able to sit upright whilst keeping my back straight. It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all, and I don’t need to lean against anything.
Not having to think about getting in a comfortable position has helped me be more focused while I meditate.
Being Easily Distracted
When I first started meditating, it wouldn’t take much for me to get distracted while I sit. If I heard a noise outside, my focus would be interrupted. For instance, when I heard a loud car driving by, in my head I would picture what type of car it was, the color, how fast it was going, so on and so forth.
After many months of meditation and practicing mindfulness, I can proudly say that that is no longer the case. I found that the more I meditated, the less I was distracted by outside noise. I suppose it is something of an acquired ability.
I admit, there are still of course times I do lose focus of my breath, but I now have more awareness of when that happens. Once I do lose that focus, I veer back to the breath or to whatever mantra I am reciting at the time.
Recently, I noticed how much longer my meditation sessions have been. I can now sit from anywhere from 15-60 minutes at a time. It isn’t always on the pillow in silence, either.
Sometimes, I put some electronic trance on, lie on the couch, close my eyes and just listen to the music—doing this can be a form of mindfulness, as it is the only thing I am focused on at the time. I fell asleep the first couple times I tried this, which meant I wasn’t being mindful enough. For those two times, music was just playing in the background while I used it to help me rest.
But now, I am able to lie and close my eyes, being completely aware and mindful, focused only on the music. Listening to music this way has completely enhanced my experience. It is now my favorite way to listen to music, as compared to having it on as background noise while I’m at the gym or at work.
The way meditation and mindfulness changed my life definitely took time. It wasn’t like a light switch, where one day my life suddenly became so much better. Instead, it was a gradual shift. There were trials and tribulations, some of which took a long time to get past. Looking back to last year, I now notice the changes in how I live my life. I react to certain situations differently. I hold greater appreciations for my relationships. I can meditate longer and I practice mindfulness now out of habit.
I had my struggles early on, and I know I’ll continue to have struggles in one way or another, but each time I get through it, I become a stronger person.
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