I’ve got better at meditating since I decided to let myself do it badly. In the past I attended a variety of meditation classes and groups (Buddhist run, mostly), I’ve listened to many different self-hypnosis recordings, I’ve read dozens of books and articles, looked at videos and been to yoga classes… You get the gist. I got myself all hung up on trying to do it properly, perfectly and consistently.
What I do now is simply show up at the mat in my spare bedroom (when I can’t think of an excuse not to), lie down in the Corpse Pose, Shavasana, set the timer on my mobile for 20 minutes, shut my eyes and stay there until the phone bleeps. I don’t try to do sitting meditation, because it hurts and I figure doing it lying down is better than not doing it at all.
Sometimes I count breaths or repeat an affirmation, other times I visualise a calm lake, focus on the dark behind my eyes or listen to the birds outside. If I find myself composing a piece of writing, rehearsing a conversation, wondering how much longer there is to go or beating myself to a pulp mentally, that’s OK. Once I’ve noticed “bad thoughts” I turn my mind back to the count or whatever, but I don’t get upset about going wrong.
If I’m physically uncomfortable I wriggle, some days I do nothing but try to get comfortable – that’s fine, it’s a kind of mindfulness. Some days I do a few stretches during or after the session. Some days I do actually go into the blissful zone where time seems suspended which is lovely, but if I don’t there’s always the next time…