There are a lot of songs with the title “What If”. It makes sense. It’s a question many people wonder, whether it comes to a past relationship or a curveball that threw your life in a different direction than expected.
Even though movies make it look like the very question will lead us down a pathway resembling a romantic comedy, chances are it will cause you more mental turmoil than it’s worth.
When it comes to something as habit breaking as meditation, it’s hard to let go of the “What Ifs”. You may find them creeping in before or after your session. Let’s address them together, so that you can let those two short words float away, breath by breath.
What if…my thoughts wander?
Welcome to having a mind. It’s estimated that most people have around 50,000 thoughts a day. Most of these thoughts are not ground-breaking, but repetitive. And the mind is used to coming back, again and again, to a thought. You breaking its hold might annoy it a little bit. So be compassionate with your mind. Your thoughts will wander. They can come back. Sometimes 100 times in a session, sometimes 20 times in a session. It is all meditation.
What if…I can’t sit still?
If you are experiencing pain or extreme discomfort in the body, it’s absolutely fine to slowly readjust. However, if you’re just having a case of the fidgets, it may be best to experiment. What happens when you do sit still? How does your body respond? How about your mind? It is an exercise in awareness and all you can do is your best on that day.
What if…my legs fall asleep?
It’s very common for the legs to tingle or fall asleep, especially if you are getting used to sitting on the floor. One way of dealing with this in advance is to elevate your seat, or even sit on a chair. But it might still happen. To put your mind at ease, you can’t damage the tissues of your legs by letting your legs stay numb. Examine this. Try to watch the legs go numb – that can be your first meditation as your body gets adjusted. Or, try these different body positions to find your best level of comfort.
What if…I get distracted?
It’s rare to find a perfectly quiet room and you might find that anything from your neighbours to electrical sounds seem to be intruding on your path to inner peace. You can open yourself up to the distraction for some time and practice mindful listening. Or once you notice you are distracted you can gently bring the point of attention back to your focus, such as the breath. You may have to do this, oh a few hundred times, as you are getting started. No biggie.
What if…I don’t have enough time to meditate?
Any time is a good amount of time to get started. We even have a 1-minute meditation to help you to maintain an everyday practice (and everyone has one minute!). On days when you can afford a little more time, do remember that meditation helps you to stay calm and be focused. Think of it as hours in the bank. When you return to life, you will be more focused and calm.
What if…I need to cut the meditation short?
Life happens. We get it. Babies cry. Emergency calls have to be made. On the occasion when you absolutely must exit the meditation, be present in your life as you are called to do. In most cases, however, the emergency is that we are so busy that we feel we can’t take a break. Turn off the ringer and minimize distractions to make sure that you can do your best to offer the meditation as a gift to yourself.
What if…I’m not sure if I’m doing it right?
It is all right. It is all good. By sitting down with the intention to meditate you are almost the whole way through. Some days you will close your eyes and find a calm place. Other days, you will close your eyes and notice how much noise is in your mind or pain is in your body. It is the act of noticing and of allowing yourself to be still, no matter what. That is meditating.
What If…I Threw in the Meditation Towel?
Well, that would be a travesty.