I’ve been avoiding meditation. Not entirely, since I do count the breath-based mantras I practice sporadically throughout the day as meditation, but when it comes to a sitting practice, I’ve had a definite aversion. And since what you resist persists, it had been months since I sat down and simply existed with myself.
But I reached a turning point the other day, when I became willing to accept my unwillingness, and instead of condemning it—What kind of yogi won’t even try and meditate?—I allowed the circumstances to be as they were. For whatever reason, I wasn’t into the idea, and that was okay.
Of course as soon as I gave myself full permission to not meditate, I picked up the latest copy of Yoga Journal and one of the cover stories was “What’s the right meditation style for you?” The article reminded me that I have a lot of tools at my disposal, and I read a suggestion I hadn’t heard before: Visualize what you want to feel.
As Nikki Costello, a yoga and mediation teacher based in New York, says in the article, “If you want your mind to be more clear, visualize a cloudless sky. If you want to feel grounded, visualize a mountain.” She says that “visualization can guide you out of a narrow thought pattern to something more expansive and free.”
The next morning I set aside five minutes to try the vizualizing technique, and I was amazed with what my mind showed me. I couldn’t decide where I wanted to “be”—on the beach at the ocean. No, near a mountain. No, wait, on the sandy shore of a lake overlooking a mountain. Oh, but, I’ve always felt snug and secure near trees….
Before I knew it, I was scooting back from the shoreline and nestling up to a tree trunk at the edge of a forest, at which point a branch curled around me and lifted me up, up, up, till I was high above the ground, peering across a great body of sparkling water and in awe of a massive mountain range.
I didn’t consciously invent an ergonomic tree limb/chair lift…my mind did that all on its own. How surreal! I’d forgotten, if I ever knew, that my brain can concoct pleasing, full-sensory experiences if only I give it the time and opportunity. Meditation can come in many forms, and the imagination is an incredible aid.
A day or so later, I came across a beautiful meditative video that begins with a young girl’s explanation of why she prefers her mind to television. I knew exactly what she meant.