In the Western cultural framework, we've somehow managed to turn our personal practices into a competitive sport. Whether it's yoga or meditation I find that so many people are intimidated to even dip their toe in because they think they aren't "good enough" or they aren't "ready." In the context of yoga, I often hear people say "I'm going to start going to a class when I'm more flexible...or when I lose 15 pounds." In the context of meditation, I hear "my mind won't stop thinking" or "I'm not good at meditation" or "I'm busy." What this tells me is that most of us have a perception that there are prerequisites for participation in what is a purely personal practice.
In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth.
There is no set starting point, no prerequisite and no qualification required to start doing yoga or meditating. In fact, both yoga and meditation invite us to show up, just as we are.
That means observing and accepting (hint: that means no judgment allowed!) that we only have 15 minutes a day to practice, or acknowledging that we have tight hamstrings or a busy mind, or a job, a dog, a husband and three children. Your personal starting point must be determined through honest observation and total acceptance.
Why is this such a profound way to begin? Because it's liberating AF.
The idea of observing, identifying, and accepting our own personal starting point removes the perception of a static starting point and instead invites everyone to come as they are. Kids, dogs, jobs, tight hammies or tight schedules welcome.
In taking a personalized approach to establishing a practice, we set goals we can actually reach. The 7-minute meditation you DO will benefit you and keep you showing up for more, while the 30-minute meditation you never get to not only does not serve you but also undermines your entire attitude ("I failed again.") Personalizing our starting point sets us up for success. We ride the tide of accomplishment and feel good about what we're doing. Which, no surprise here, usually ends up in us doing MORE of the good thing, not less.
Further to that, when we make observation and acceptance of our individual situation our first step, we avoid competition and comparison and instead, invite in compassion for ourselves and others. We allow ourselves to focus on our inward journey and our individual progress rather than competing on an outward level...and falling into the trap of comparing ourselves with others or with some ideal.
In the context of yoga, this approach makes yoga practice inclusive and open to all, rather than a competitive sport suitable only for the flexible, strong, spiritually advanced and/or "enlightened" beings.
The same is true of establishing a meditation practice. You don't need to be religious, spiritual or even have a calm mind or an hour to spare. You just need to start where you are.
This permission to begin-where-you-are gifts would-be yogis and meditators with the permission they feel they need to show up and begin a practice, just as they are. And when you show up, you reap the benefit of practice.
In a practical sense, what this means is that headstands and levitation are not required to have a yoga or meditation practice that positively impacts your life. You don't need to start with a 90-minute yoga practice or a 60-minute meditation practice for it to make a difference. In the case of meditation, you don't need a 10-day silent retreat to jumpstart your meditation practice. Start with 7 minutes a day. That's it. 7 minutes.
I'd love to help you on your way to establishing your personal starting point. Let's do a little exercise together to get started. Five questions and you're on your way. This is geared toward meditation, but you can easily tweak the questions to yoga, self-care or any other personal practice you'd like to establish in your life.
1. How much time can I realistically devote to a meditation practice on a daily basis?
2. What time of day can I set an appointment with myself to sit and meditate?
3. What are the potential benefits for meditating for me personally? (e.g., more patience, enhanced focus, expanded creativity, more mindfulness around eating habits, etc.,)
4. What feels like a challenge about establishing a daily practice?
5. In light of those challenges, what do I need to support my practice? (e.g., a room with a door, guided meditations, asking my partner to watch the kids, etc.,)
The answers to the above questions should give you some insight into your personal starting point. When you have a realistic picture of your starting point, your reasons for meditating and the potential roadblocks, it's much easier to set yourself up for a practice you'll stick to.
If you'd like some support in establishing your practice, meditate with me! Download the free Heavily Meditated App today!