Recently, I had a revelation about meditation muscles in a yoga class and want to share the experience with you.
I was sitting on my towel at beach yoga, eyes closed, sun shining, class had just begun. I was totally in. The crown of my head was lifted toward the sky, back straight as an arrow, breath full and deep. And then it started.
My mind began wandering in a thousand different directions. Did I lock the car? My hip is sore. I’m so hungry. I need to make a Target run. Elise is such a great teacher. The sand is so soft today. I would love a Starbucks.
Eventually, I realized that my thoughts had run amuck and it was taking me away from my practice. I gently directed my attention back to my breath. Phew, here I am. Throughout the next 60 minutes of my practice, this pattern persisted. In some moments, I would be calm and focused, then my mind would wander again. Then, along would come the realization and the redirect. I would recognize that my mind had wandered to my Target list, lunch plans, fears, concerns, and then I would gently guide it back to my breath. By the time I packed up my towel and left the beach I felt like a million bucks. I felt centered, stretched and strong.
Every time you recognize your mind has wandered and then successfully bring it back to your breath; you are building your meditation muscles. Envision the same process as building an arm muscle. It requires consistency, patience and diligence. The first time you lift a free-weight, you will not grow a bicep. You will however, get stronger and stronger each time you show up and lift your weights.
The same is true with quieting your mind. Every single time you recognize you have wandered then gently return, you are building that muscle. This means that what you thought you were doing wrong, you are actually totally slaying. Because, each time you recognize that your mind wandered and you bring it back, you are getting stronger. And, because of your diligence, it will become easier and easier.
Some days will be harder than others. Let it go. Don’t waste any energy admonishing yourself for checking out and mentally wandering away. Notice, redirect and move on.
Before becoming a yoga teacher I used to refer to myself as someone who, “couldn’t quiet their mind.” I would say it all the time in whatever context it fit. Here’s the thing, whatever you believe about yourself will be true for you. You are the only one in control of your inner monologue. If you continuously tell yourself that something is true for you, than it will be.
I would like to challenge you to rewrite your own story about meditation and quieting your mind. Allow yourself to see that what we thought we were doing incorrectly (checking out and wandering away) we are actually slaying. You now know that each redirect makes you stronger and continues to build your meditation muscles. You are doing an amazing job, so keep it up. Tell yourself that you are wonderful at noticing and redirecting. You are wonderful at quieting your mind then allow it to be so.
Learning new things takes consistency, patience & diligence. I absolutely know that you are capable of all three. Now give yourself credit for doing it right all along.
I love and support you in every way.