As a meditation teacher, I often find myself telling students that they need to be their own meditation teacher. That may sound counter intuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense.
With meditation becoming increasingly mainstream, the number of resources available is staggering. So many wonderful teachers to connect with, books to read, videos to watch, practices to do.
But sometimes all this richness can be too much. With so many resources to choose from, how do you know where to turn?
That’s when it really helps to be your own meditation teacher. Because no one knows your mind and heart quite like you do.
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, here are some tips for being your own teacher:
Trust That You Know the Answer
Being your own meditation teacher starts by trusting that you have the answers – you just need to find them.
Turn Down the Noise
Too much of a good thing is still too much.
If you’re following lots of teachers on social media, getting daily inspirational emails, or have a stack a meditation books on your bedside table… give yourself a break.
Maybe it’s time to unfollow some people, shelve the books, or stop reading certain emails for a while.
To discover what you need right now, make the space and time to listen to yourself. Here are some suggestions.
If you like journalling: Write freely, without an agenda, and see what comes up.
If you have a meditation space: Take the time to clean or enhance it. Paying attention to external space creates inner space as well. (Decluttering other areas of your life will also help.)
If you don’t have a meditation space: Set one up. It doesn’t have to be big, but it should be clean and uplifted. Even the corner of a room can work well. Having a dedicated space will inspire you to meditate.
If you tend to do different practices or activities during your meditation sessions: Simplify. Sit quietly and feel your body breathing. When your mind wanders, come back to feeling the breathing. Let your thoughts settle. This kind of simple, breathing meditation is a beautiful way to create space.
Rely on Your Intuition
Our thinking minds can be very chatty, and not always helpful.
But when we let the busyness quiet down, we discover another part of the mind – that is enormously wise. This is the essence of being one’s own meditation teacher.
Let this wisdom be your guide. As you go through your day, listen to what it’s saying
If you’re not used to relying on your intuition, take some time to get familiar with it.
One way to recognize wisdom is that it feels different, physically. And it often arises as a sense of knowing that doesn’t rely on words.
- Think of something you’re 100% “yes” about. How does this feel in your body and mind?
- Think of something you’re 100% “no” about. Again, see how this feels in mind and body.
- Finally, think of something that’s a “maybe.” How does this feel for you?
Trusting your intuition is like learning any skill. It takes practice.
Dialog with Yourself
Once you’ve created some space and tuned into your intuition, you can start a dialog with yourself.
To do this, use your thinking mind to pose questions. Then allow your wisdom to arise naturally. Simply listen.
If might go something like this….
Thinking Mind: Help! I feel very stuck in my meditation practice. What can I do?
Wisdom Mind: What are you afraid of?
Thinking Mind: “I’m not afraid. I love meditation.”
Wisdom Mind: What are you afraid of?
Thinking Mind: Well, I guess I’m afraid of letting go.
Wisdom Mind: What happens when you let go?
Thinking Mind: Hmmmm… I feel groundless.
Wisdom Mind: Spread your wings and fly
Thinking Mind: Yes, that resonates!
As you can see from this example, the answers might surprise you and cause your mind to open further – in the same way that receiving a teaching from someone else can.
Don’t Sweat It!
Meditation is a journey. Sometimes it goes smoothly, other times it’s an uphill slog. And then there are times when we stall completely.
None of this is a problem, because there’s so much to learn at every stage.
Meditating for a lifetime means riding the ups and downs… being open to the lessons along the way… and never giving up.
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Do you feel like you’re your own meditation teacher? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.