Okay, I admit, I have used the beautiful, air-brushed, unrealistic photos of people meditating in my posts and promotional materials. I mean, the people are just so pretty and they live in such beautiful, air-brushed, and organized places.
But I’m sure these pictures also help perpetuate the misunderstandings that people have about mindfulness and meditation. These pictures probably lead people to think meditation is ALWAYS AMAZING AND RELAXING. And that it has to happen IN A GORGEOUS SUNLIT FIELD. And that when you are done YOUR CHAKRAS WILL EXPLODE OUT OF YOUR HEAD.
A friend once told me that she tried to meditate, but “nothing happened.”
It’s probably because, if you rely on the stock photos of meditation, you think meditation goes something like this:
How to Meditate Based on Stock Photos of People Meditating
Step One: Put on your makeup (yes, ALL OF IT), do your hair, get your accessories (including a sparkly brooch) and find a gorgeous, slightly eastern-looking background. (Bonus points for plucking your eyebrows).
Step Two: Find a bonsai tree.
Step Three: Find a cave. Preferably by the beach on a sunny day with just a few picturesque clouds.
(Note: if no cave is available, a beautifully decorated and mysteriously unoccupied pedestrian bridge will work just fine.)
More bonus points if you go all Buddha and find a slightly raised mound beneath a tree that looks amazing in sepia-tone.
Step Four: Get comfortable. Sitting with your lady parts on a jagged rock is especially recommended.
Step Five: Put on a weird stare for the people who pass you by while you try to meditate in the middle of a leafy path in the park.
Optional Variation #1: Put on a white shirt to match your completely white walls and computer, then climb on top of your desk. If your mind wanders, you can think about what else you could put on your huge bookshelf besides THAT ONE PICTURE FRAME.
The white shirt/white walls option works well for men, too.
Optional Variation #2: Get comfy in a hip white hat and string bikini while you perch over cerulean blue waters.Step Six: Wait for CHAKRAS TO EXPLODE OUT OF YOUR HEAD. (note: this may take a while).
Perhaps you may find the following instructions more relatable…
How to Meditate Based on my Instagram Photos
Step One: Do your hair. I particularly like the Flock-of-Seagulls, just-rolled-out-of-bed look.
Step Two: Go to the designated meditation place in your home, which you have told the children is a SPECIAL place that is reserved for QUIET REFLECTION.
Step Three: Step on a Lego with bare feet in your half-awake state. Curse. Vow to speak skillfully for the rest of the day.
Step Four: Approach your meditation cushion and inadvertently activate Chomp ‘n Stomp Grimlock, who promptly ROARS at you. Exclaim “F#CK!”, notice your emotion of FEAR, and renew your vow to speak skillfully for the rest of the– oh, who are we kidding?
Step Five: Get comfy in your fleece robe while perched on a patio cushion you bought on clearance at Pier One.
Breathe. Try not to be distracted by your morning breath. Resist the urge to clean up Legos and Transformers.
(note: those are twinkle lights, not chakras exploding out of my head)
The true “magic” of meditation is its simplicity, its mundane, step-on-a-Lego everydayness.
The magic is sitting down and letting nothing happen.
The magic is being in your everyday surroundings, and letting yourself just be.
The magic isn’t about being in a perfectly organized office on top of your desk (WTF?), or on a perfectly quiet and empty beach, or next to a perfectly trimmed bonsai tree.
The magic of meditation happens when you move, amidst the toys and chaos of your real life, from your bed to your cushion to the breakfast table to the office, and let mindfulness become a way of being in the world — a way to be in YOUR world, not a stock-photo fantasy world.
So Lego your expectations, and experience the true magic…
Want to learn how to make mindfulness and meditation a part of YOUR everyday life? You can learn more about my online mindfulness courses here. I promise they’re all about the down-to-earth, crazy-hair practice of mindfulness!