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Changing Your Inner Landscape

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Creativity, Joy | 26 comments

Changing Your Inner Landscape

I’ve been busy lately. Really busy. Busy enough that I booked myself a vacation a few weeks ago and am itching to get away (not yet, alas, but soon!). You know when you reach that point where everything is just too much and you need a change of scene? I’m there. I bet some of you are, too.

The thing is, I can’t always change my outer landscape. I can’t always just pick up and go somewhere (and as we see right now, I can’t always go somewhere fast enough!). So what’s the solution?

I’m pretty sure it’s time to learn how to change my inner landscape. Actually, no…that’s a lie. I’ve been pretty sure it’s time for ages, I’ve just had a tough time doing it. I have always absolutely loved the idea of meditation, but I’ve never had anything resembling success at it. One of two things usually happens when I try to meditate:

1. My internal chatter starts up and I get frustrated because it won’t shut up, which pulls me right out of the whole meditation mindset.

2. I fall asleep. (Embarrassing, probably sad, but also true.)

Obviously, neither of these outcomes is especially conducive to successful meditation. It’s possible I haven’t stuck with it long enough when the chatter starts up, but falling asleep? That one usually seems to be a sign that I need a nap more than I need to try to meditate.

Having said that, I’m aiming to give it another try. If I haven’t managed a week of at least 10 minutes’ meditation by the time I go on vacation, it’ll be a major goal of my time away. On top of that, I’m taking the online Awakening Joy course this year, and it not only mentions meditation, it actively encourages it, so that’s another incentive.

I know that meditation will give me an equilibrium I’ve longed for for a while. I’m quite certain that it will help keep the creativity flowing, and keep my righteous indignation in check (as I noted the other day, nothing gets me from zero to pissed off in less time than injustice, for instance). And if it’s part of the process of becoming more joyful, I’m all for it.

So my question to you is this: have you had better luck than I have with meditation? Was it a rough road when you started out? What helped you get the hang of it? Was it just stubborn perseverance, or finding a particular method, or something else?

I’d love to hear about your experience here, if you have a practice—or what keeps you from meditating if you don’t. Thanks!

(PS: I have a brand new Facebook Page and I’d love to see you there!)

26 Comments

  1. Ooh, totally relate to this, Nancy! These are the two things that happen for me when I try to meditate too. I have read things but never had a class, so I’m wondering if the discipline of a teacher would help me. Either that or a month-long meditation retreat, which isn’t a realistic option for me but a nice fantasy!

    • Hi, Vanessa!

      So glad to know I’m not alone here (though I had a feeling I might not be!). I’ve never taken a class, but I have downloaded some audios that function like courses. The one I have that I suspect would be fabulous if I could find the time and dedication for it is called SoundMind and is only about $25. It’s pretty intense, at least for a newbie, and the files are each an hour long, though I didn’t realize at first that that’s divided into 30 minutes of instruction and 30 for practice if you want it. I only played with it once or twice but hope to get back to it someday when I’ve worked myself up to that point.

      The other one I have is called MantraWave, and it’s a particular mantra set to music. I like that that one comes in a variety of different lengths, and some are guided and others aren’t, but even with a 10-minute option, I haven’t been able to remember to do it very consistently. I like the music, though, and sometimes I use it in the background while I’m doing other things, which is nice, too. I do think the mantra helps keep me at least slightly more focused, and the 10-minute tracks are where I’m going to jump in this time.

      Anyway–that’s the sum of my knowledge, but maybe one of those will appeal to you (and btw, I’m not affiliated with either, so those are just ordinary links up there!). Please do let me know if you find something that works for you!

  2. Nancy, I hope you love Awakening Joy as much as I did! It actually turned me on so much that I started meditating (close to daily). Came out of retirement. Let go of the (stupid) idea that the meditation I did 20 years ago serves me today!

    One thing I have learned: It’s less about removing the chatter in the head, and more about, through practice, developing the chops to stop listening to it! For me the image is that there’s a not-quite-tuned-in radio station playing in the background. Static-y. Can’t quite make out what they’re saying.

    And I have this for you: I recently wrote up a meditation I learned a million (okay, 40ish) years ago that has visulizations in each step. I even included a recording of my voice doing the instructions. Try it out, it might suit you:

    Love and blessings, and serenity,
    Sue
    Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest) recently posted..
    Perfection is an illusion—Full Moon in VirgoMy Profile

    • Oh damn, I did the html wrong (still learning, so much to learn!).

      The link to the meditation is in the signoff (Love and blessings…) Click there and you’ll be all set!

      [slinking off, slightly shame-facedly]

      Love!
      Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest) recently posted..It’s a good day to be grateful…My Profile

    • Hi, Sue!

      I’m only just starting Awakening Joy, so I’m not far enough into it to have much of an opinion yet. (I’m a wee bit behind but hoping to catch up while I’m on vacation—can I just say how thrilled I am that all the audio/video can go on my iPod? I’ll be watching on the plane!)

      I like your image of the radio that’s not quite tuned in—still have to wrap my head around how that’s possible, but I’m not assuming that it’s impossible, which is the first step, right?

      Thanks for reminding me of your meditation file, too. I meant to grab that the other week and then life got in the way, so I’m going to go snag it right now!

  3. What works for me (each of the many times I have restarted Meditation) is to start with just one minute. Counting breaths works really well for this … once you know your own respiration rate.

    For that first minute, it seems to take for-freakin’-ever. But if I do that once or twice a day for just a few days, the extension to a minute and a half or two minutes goes more smoothly. Within days I’m up to five minutes. At around that point, I need a timer, preferably something with a gentle audible signal, not a harsh buzzer. Going up from five minutes to ten minutes is a jump I can handle with ease, sometimes; other times I’ve needed to go from five to six, and then from six to seven, and so on. But I can get to 20 minutes inside of 2 weeks.

    And, full disclosure, just now I’m not meditating. That appears to be about ‘there’s stuff going on in here that you don’t really want to know about’ … but also some of it is addictive behavior around the internet and computer solitaire. (sigh).

    • One minute! That thought never occurred to me, but I can see it working really well. I assume from your description that you’re talking about one minute of plain old silence rather than something musical or guided. I may have to give that a whirl–thanks!

      • Yes, plain old silence (except for the mind chatter, of course). It also helps to keep releasing my judgment about all the yakkety yak … and just keep returning my attention to the breath, over and over and over again.

  4. Nancy I’m so with you. I get annoyed whenever I try to meditate, and bogged down with thoughts about trivia. Or I fall asleep. And so far, I’ve never been determined enough to stick at it…
    Sarah recently posted..What are you afraid of?My Profile

    • Sarah, this is one of those comments that’s tough to reply to because I am simultaneously relieved to know I’m not alone, and sad that you’re in that same boat with me. Did you see Maggie’s suggestion, and Jackie’s? I might give one or both a try, and maybe one would appeal to you, too?

      Here’s to getting out of this rut!

  5. Nancy, I also found it a difficult habit to get into, but I have to say that now I’m doing 15 minutes a day with ease.

    It’s really thanks to the 21 Day Challenge that Deepak Chopra ran a while ago. His guided meditations/visualizations are soooo easy to follow and one doesn’t find oneself getting distracted or falling asleep.

    He’s running a new one soon -
    http://www.oprahdeepakmeditation.com/Bestsellers/LandingPage.aspx?BookId=178&af=850

    Love that you’re so honest about this. Meditation SOUNDS easy, but in reality, it’s not, and it’s easy to think you’re doing it ‘wrong’, when in fact, there is no wrong way at all, and even a few minutes is better than nothing.

    Bliss-ings,
    the goddess known as Jacqui

    • Thanks for this, Jacqui! I remember intending to do one of Chopra’s meditation programs like this before, and never quite managing to get myself to do it. Might be worth giving it another go, though. :)

  6. Good luck with your meditation! I honestly don’t meditate as frequently as I want to. As bad as it sounds, because I know how good it is for me, I seem to convince myself that it’s ‘wasted’ time. Although I know I spend too much time ‘acting’ and not enough time ‘being’!
    Dominee recently posted..What my life looked like before Self Love.My Profile

    • I hear you, Dominee! I put it on my list, and I want to do it–and then I realize that it’s a chunk of X minutes when I can’t get to all the other things on my list, and it promptly falls off. I’m hoping to build the beginnings of a habit and a sense of priority while I’m on vacation so I can override that idea, because as you say, too much acting, not enough being!

  7. Meditation is hard because the silence is so hard to find sometimes when the chatter of everyday life is in your mind.
    I listen to a hypnotherapy cd I got from the Millionaire Minds weekend and that is great. there are many of them for different things and they really give me a great visual so that everything around me disappears and I can concentrate on what the message is.
    It has been a great help (when I get to them!)

    • Yeah, that’s the same problem I have. Thanks for the info—I’ll look around and see what I find!

  8. Hi Nancy. Love the post and the focus on changing your inner landscape. I have been a meditator for over 30 years and just so you know everyone struggles with meditation, even experienced meditators. The nature of the mind is to wander and be busy and as we meditate we come to see what is going on all the time unconsciously. The practice of meditation is really just to notice that and come back to the present in some way, often with the breath. It is kind of like working out, as you practice, you begin to build some muscles but there will always be some days when you have a harder time making it to the gym! I have found personally and in my work with others, that is important to explore different types of meditation and to find one that resonates with you where you are today. This can resolve some of the obstacles to practicing regularly. One of the practices I recommend to beginning and experienced meditators is Metta/Loving-kindess Practice. It has some components such as working with phrases that can provide more of an anchor than the breath itself and it is a wonderful heart centered practice. If you visit my blog, I offer a 31 Day Guided Practice called May is For Metta. Good luck in your explorations with meditation. Also, I am looking forward to reading more of you blog and finding inspiration for my creative endeavors. You have lots of great resources here. Thanks!
    Beth Terrence recently posted..Animal Totems & Archetypes, Part IIMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for this, Beth! I am definitely going to go check out your program and will let you know how it goes! I know this struggle is common, but somehow that doesn’t help encourage me. ;)

      Please do take a look around, and let me know if you have questions or if I can help with anything!

  9. Many people have the same issues meditating. Even when you become good at meditating you can have these issues. Here’s some tricks I’ve learned;

    -Find the right time. Once my mind starts going in the morning I can’t get it to shut up. It works well for me to meditate in the afternoon or evening.

    -Try listening to inspirational music. This helps me to calm down and stay focused on something besides what I’ve got to get done.

    -Use your imagination. I find visualization/imagination to be really helpful to stay focused and awake.

    Keep trying and experiment. It’s well worth it.

    Monica

    • Thanks so much for this, Monica. One of the things I like about the MantraWave (mentioned on another comment) is that it’s musical, so you can get lost in the mantra and the melody. It’s no guarantee, but it beats dead silence for me. That’s why I’ve been meaning to start with ten minutes of that and see how it goes. I haven’t thought about the time of day much, so that’s definitely worth considering, too. Do you meditate at the same time every day, or just at whatever point in the afternoon or evening feels good/fits your schedule?

  10. There have been some great tips shared above, I’d just add a little more to the 1 min meditation I use . Its breathing in for a count of 4 , holding for 4 then exhaling. I also found mindfulness an excellent technique to build that muscle for meditation Good luck
    Mary recently posted..How to Master Your Money Once and For AllMy Profile

    • Thanks for the tips, Mary! I’ve tried counting breaths before, but either get bored or lose count, so I’m intrigued by actually changing the breath. That might keep me more focused!

  11. It is funny when I first started to meditate i had the same things happen. It took me a while to figure out the best way to meditate for me. I still do not get to do it as often as I would like.. Enjoy your vacations
    Tricia recently posted..Are You Being Selfish?My Profile

    • Thanks, Tricia. It’s always good to know we’re not alone!

      As for vacation, I sure as heck am gonna try!

  12. I think a lot of people struggle – I know I did to begin with. What works well for me is guided meditation, and chanting meditation. I also love the 21 day meditation challenge from the chopra centre – a new one is about to start in March. Also, I am working on a couple of meditation kits – one for ‘easy’ meditation and one for ‘chanting meditation’. You’d be welcome to try them out for me. Get in touch if you’re interested. But above all, persevere – if you really want to learn meditation, you will find the way that works for you. xxxx
    Donna recently posted..Daily Practice Wrap Up: Lighten Up!My Profile

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Donna—I’ll definitely be in touch about being a guinea pig for the meditations you’re working on!

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