Mindfulness, Meditation, self awareness, self soothing, focusing on the breath… We all have different names for it. We all have different practice styles. You might already be incorporating meditation with your pole practice and not even know it! I used to think meditation was a nice idea. Really good in concept, and probably great in practice, for those who were disciplined enough to do it (i.e. not me!). It’s not that I didn’t want to meditate, there was just always something else I thought I needed to think about, or do, or watch, or feel. The idea of “emptying my mind” seemed somewhere between too much effort and not practical time management for a busy lady such as myself.
But, in fact, the opposite is true. Meditation is like exercise: the more you do it the more energy you have to do more. It’s a bit of a paradox, I know. But it works. Setting aside time for mediation will leave you more focused, alert, and centered when navigating the rest of your day – including your time on the pole. A lot of dancers (myself included) talk about “moving meditations” or feeling “zen” and zoned out hanging in the air by their toes. This is completely valid and a great way to calm your brain while toning your body. It’s my favorite! However, there is also something to be said for removing the movement – and thrill of the aerial work – completely, and learning to value the stillness. It’s a yin/yang balancing act. The art of “sitting the fuck still” is one we don’t ever get to practice, unless we make a point to. We’re always on our phones, laptops, in our cars, with our head phones, or adjusting and readjusting ourselves to avoid discomfort. Louis CK makes this point really well:
Dancing – while perfect and holy in it’s own right – in this context is just another distraction. Another way to avoid the infinite stillness of sitting alone with ourselves. As one teacher told me, “In meditation, you cannot hide from yourself.” By embracing the stillness of meditation, we enhance our knowledge of ourselves thus making our dance practice even stronger. The movement and the stillness serve each other in perfect balance. When I first started meditating, I was out of balance. I had all of the movement and none of the stillness. Maybe your somewhere in between? Or maybe your all stillness and afraid to move? (Probably not if your reading a pole blog, but hey – who knows!) We’re all just trying to figure it out. And don’t be intimidated by the idea of mediation. Chances are, it’s a lot easier than you think.
I absolutely LOVE this video from Mingyur Rinpoche, mainly because he is so happy and kind. He makes meditation so forgiving and accessible – even for someone like me! Turns out – we ALL have little distractable monkey minds – not just me. The goal of “cleaning your mind” to some super human blank slate is perfectionistic and counterproductive. All you have to do is breathe, and then focus on the breathe. Let whatever thoughts come just be there with you. “You are not your thoughts.” That’s another great one from meditation class. This idea may seem obvious to you, but it was a light bulb moment for me. If you have a bad thought, you aren’t a bad person. If you have a good thought, you aren’t a good person. You’re thoughts come and go. You stay. You live outside of them, and can help shape them if you so choose. You don’t have to be rules by them. They aren’t you. Have you ever remember back to a time in your past and thought, “I can’t believe I was like that! I’m not even the same person any more…” Yes. This is great news. It means you really can be whoever you want to be. Think of how much you’ve changing your thoughts by just reacting along as life comes at you. Now imagine what you can become once you intentionally start rewiring your thoughts. Talk about empowering! Insanity is doing the same thing over, and over again expecting different results. So if you haven’t tried meditation but aren’t happy with the state of your emotional balance, well being, pole practice, or life in general.
Maybe give it a shot? What have you got to loose? 20 minutes a day. Or an hour, if you’re too busy.
Here’s a few beginner tips to get your started!
- Sit for just two minutes. This will seem ridiculously easy. And that’s perfect. Start with just two minutes a day for a week. If that goes well, increase your time by another two minutes and do that for a week. If all goes well, by increasing just a little at a time, you’ll be meditating for 10 minutes a day in the 2nd month, which is amazing! But start small first.
- Do it first thing each morning. It’s easy to say, “I’ll meditate every day,” but then forget to do it. Instead, set a reminder for every morning when you get up, and put a note that says “meditate” somewhere where you’ll see it.
- Don’t get caught up in the how — just do. Most people worry about where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use … this is all nice, but it’s not that important to get started. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. Or on your bed. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. It’s just for two minutes at first anyway, so just sit. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer, but in the beginning it doesn’t matter much, just sit somewhere quiet and comfortable.
- Check in with how you’re feeling. As you first settle into your meditation session, simply check to see how you’re feeling. How does your body feel? What is the quality of your mind? Busy? Tired? Anxious? See whatever you’re bringing to this meditation session as completely OK.
- Count your breaths. Now that you’re settled in, turn your attention to your breath. Just place the attention on your breath as it comes in, and follow it through your nose all the way down to your lungs. Try counting “one” as you take in the first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one.
- Come back when you wander. Your mind will wander. This is an almost absolute certainty. There’s no problem with that. When you notice your mind wandering, smile, and simply gently return to your breath. Count “one” again, and start over. You might feel a little frustration, but it’s perfectly OK to not stay focused, we all do it. This is the practice, and you won’t be good at it for a little while.
- Develop a loving attitude. When you notice thoughts and feelings arising during meditation, as they will, look at them with a friendly attitude. See them as friends, not intruders or enemies. They are a part of you, though not all of you. Be friendly and not harsh.
- Don’t worry too much that you’re doing it wrong. You will worry you’re doing it wrong. That’s OK, we all do. You’re not doing it wrong. There’s no perfect way to do it, just be happy you’re doing it.
- Don’t worry about clearing the mind. Lots of people think meditation is about clearing your mind, or stopping all thoughts. It’s not. This can sometimes happen, but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. If you have thoughts, that’s normal. We all do. Our brains are thought factories, and we can’t just shut them down. Instead, just try to practice focusing your attention, and practice some more when your mind wanders.
- Stay with whatever arises. When thoughts or feelings arise, and they will, you might try staying with them awhile. Yes, I know I said to return to the breath, but after you practice that for a week, you might also try staying with a thought or feeling that arises. We tend to want to avoid feelings like frustration, anger, anxiety … but an amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for awhile. Just stay, and be curious.
- Get to know yourself. This practice isn’t just about focusing your attention, it’s about learning how your mind works. What’s going on inside there? It’s murky, but by watching your mind wander, get frustrated, avoid difficult feelings … you can start to understand yourself.
- Become friends with yourself. As you get to know yourself, do it with a friendly attitude instead of one of criticism. You’re getting to know a friend. Smile and give yourself love.
- Do a body scan. Another thing you can do, once you become a little better at following your breath, is focus your attention on one body part at a time. Start at the soles of your feet — how do those feel? Slowly move to your toes, the tops of your feet, your ankles, all the way to the top of your head.
- Really commit yourself. Don’t just say, “Sure, I’ll try this for a couple days.” Really commit yourself to this. In your mind, be locked in, for at least a month.
- You can do it anywhere. If you’re traveling or something comes up in the morning, you can do meditation in your office. In the park. During your commute. As you walk somewhere. Sitting meditation is the best place to start, but in truth, you’re practicing for this kind of mindfulness in your entire life.
- Find a community. Or even a group of friends. Find an online group and check in with them and ask questions, get support, encourage others. Or find a place in person – I really enjoy The Den in Los Angeles.
- Smile when you’re done. When you’re finished with your two minutes, smile. Be grateful that you had this time to yourself, that you stuck with your commitment, that you showed yourself that you’re trustworthy, where you took the time to get to know yourself and make friends with yourself. That’s an amazing two minutes of your life.
This post first appeared on Bad Kitty Blog | Pole Dancing Fitness Lifestyle Ne, please read the originial post: here