Meditation 101 By Stacia Carlton #WellbeingWednesday

We all see the same thing in the beginning don’t we? A bunch of saffron-robed bald dudes sitting around cross legged with their hands posed uncomfortably on their knees… or worse a group of most likely un-bathed straggly haired (and probably vegan) hippies chanting unintelligibly. We all see the same thing in our mind’s eye the first time we consider meditation. I know. I thought it too. And the first time I heard someone chanting OHM and I was expected to do the same, I giggled like a third grader. I just couldn’t do it! And okay if I’m being perfectly honest, I still struggle with the chanting. I guess maybe I’m just not that evolved yet.

Meditation is that I suppose, but it’s also so much more, or perhaps I should say, so much less. For greatest success (and fewest giggles) it’s probably best to start small. Many experienced yogis talk about meditating for an hour or more at a time. The operative word of course being “experienced”. The idea of sitting still with a clear mind for that long can be daunting to say the least, particularly when you’ve got a “to-do” list the length of your arm.

I’ve tried to meditate without guidance and again I can state without compunction that I am clearly not that evolved. I need someone telling me what to focus on… in other words something to focus on while I try to not focus on anything.

There are plenty of guided meditations online. The point is that you owe it to yourself to try one… try many… until you find an instructor you like. Maybe it’s as simple as finding one who’s voice you like, or the inner journey they take you on. Just experiment until you find one that works for you.

“I have no time to meditate!” I hear many of you exclaim. And to answer that I will quote an old Zen saying… “You should sit in mediation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

It’s so much easier than you might think, and there are very few rules;

  1. Set an intention. Something like,“I will remember to move with
    grace and purpose today.”
  2. Turn your phone off.
  3. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  4. You can learn about correct breathing technique later but for now
    just BREATHE!
  5. No judgement allowed… none.

I’ve been meditating nearly daily for almost two years, Some days my practice is better than others, but that’s why it’s called a practice isn’t it! I struggle with quieting the naturally excitable nature of my grey matter, but that first moment you see or feel that inner light I promise you will never look back. It’s like waking up after a long sleep. Everything is clear, every problem has a solution. It only takes a few minutes of inner stillness to see where those answers lie. And hey, you don’t have to wear a saffron robe, unless of course you happen to have one of which you’re particularly fond.

Stacia_Carlton_HeadShotStacia Carlton is a culinary school graduate and food writer who practices yoga daily. She writes weekly about food and mindfulness at

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