I had my first experience with meditation at a workshop in 2016.
It consisted of 2 hours of asanas (or yoga poses) to help shift our energy in ways that would prepare us to quiet the mind, followed by a long sit. There were so many things I didn't understand. Like - why yoga first? What does a chakra look like? How do I breathe into it?? Why am I plugging my nostrils with my pinkie???
Just like my own first experience, meditation can feel awkward and strange and uncomfortable when you first try it. Or....for way longer than than that. Maybe even for a really long time. Or maybe, it's not about getting used to it so much as it is finding a beneficial way to do it.
I have one of those wild, busy brains that really needs meditation more than than most, but because meditation normally encourages us to clear it (which feels impossible), I always come away from it feeling like a failure. There's just SO much to clear!
And then I found the 10% Happier podcast.
Dan Harris and his podcast have done two things for me. One - made me understand that meditation is more about focusing your brain and not clearing it. Focusing seems a lot more realistic than emptying to me.
And Two - taught me that depending on who you ask, there are actually many accepted forms of meditation. I believe he mentions 23 on his show, but after doing some research, I discovered 36. They are....
Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation)
Third Eye Meditation
Gazing Meditation (Trataka)
“I Am” Meditation
Taoist Breathing Meditation
Taoist Inner Vision
Taoist Internal Alchemy
Sitting with God
Contemplation of God (muraqabah)
Sufi Mantra Meditation (zikr, jikr or dhikr)
Sufi breathing Meditation (including Five Elements Breathing)
Bond of Love Meditation
Sufi walking Meditation
Relaxation & Body Scans
One day in the recent past, after jotting down notes about each of these types, I was struck with the thought that - I kind of want to try them all. Or if not all, then most of them. Because unless you dig in and try, how will you know if there's one that lights up your soul?
At the advisement of my yoga instructor, I don't think I'll be trying kundalini mediation (unless I can find a tame version or something it's probably not wise that I attempt messing with my energy, nor sharing anything here that could encourage anyone reading this to mess up theirs!)
And I feel a little like I'd be infringing on a sacred practice if I attempt Sufi Whirling. Though it is kind of gorgeous and entrancing to watch, so I highly recommend watching a video of actual Sufis performing this ceremony! (This one, starting at about 4:15 in is a great example.)
The rest of them are fair game! Even if, maybe, I'm not getting the actual training for them - I'm winging them for research purposes.
And I'd like to invite you to join me!
Every week, for about 9 months, I will present a type of meditation - a little back story on it, a description of how it's done, how I will be spending the week in this type of meditation, and then my personal impressions and predictions.
Towards the end of the week, I will share my reactions, how it changed my life that week, and any tips I may have picked up along the way. Every 6 weeks will be a review of the types covered, notes on my favorites and least favorites, and the actual practice for the week will be my (or your) favorite type from the previous 6 weeks.
Assuming I (maybe we?) work through 34 types plus 5 or 6 reviews, that will leave about 3 months to practice our very-favorites for 30 days each to see which one is the reigning champ! For myself, or for you. I do have some meditation books to utilize as well, though, so we will see how the final quarter of this year pans out.
What do you think - want to join me?
I put together this easy FAQ page to sort of distill this information and help you jump in at anytime in the challenge. There's also a newsletter sign up there that's solely for this meditation challenge if you're interesting in having the post links and updates sent to your email.
See you on Monday, I hope!