By Megan Castle
It sounds simple: sitting in a quiet room, focusing on… nothing. I’m here to tell you, it’s not. Meditation is honestly one of the most challenging things that I have ever tried to practice. Nothing compares to the amount of self-control and self-awareness that one needs in order to even attempt meditation.
David Kletter, a junior at Bozeman High School, is a strong believer in meditation. Kletter happens to be a good friend of mine, so I recently decided to join him for a “sitting meditation” session at the Bozeman Dharma Center. The meditation space at the center is a relaxing, quiet and elegantly decorated room that allows you to feel comfortable and in the spirit of meditation.
When I sat in on a meditation session on a Saturday morning, I realized that meditation really is unlike any other form of de-stressor: it’s a challenge. Often people assume that de-stressing tactics should be overwhelmingly relaxing but I honestly found myself frustrated – I wanted to be good at meditation.
However, “being good” at meditating really isn’t the point.
“It takes a long time to understand meditation and how it can benefit you. As you practice, you learn a lot about yourself, it helps you clear your mind, focus, and tap back into your true source” says Kletter.
There are many different forms of meditation, including walking meditation, Zen meditation or “sitting” meditation and various ways to conduct a mediation session.
For example, Kletter did a different type of meditation than I did, that requires a bit more experience, “sometimes I meditate by focusing on a repetitive phrase or a form of mantra, it’s just a different way to clear your mind,” Kletter says.
As a beginner, I practiced the popular “breath meditation.” This is often the first form of meditation that people try because it seems to be the simplest and the least abstract concept. Breath meditation or “Zen” meditation requires that the person focus solely on their breath: it’s slightly more complex than it sounds.
“Don’t just focus on your breathing, focus on the actual sensation of breathing,” Kletter says. “If you find yourself regaining thoughts, simply refocus yourself on your breathing.”
Well, I did have thoughts: most of my thoughts were about not thinking. Ironic, to think about how much you’re not thinking.
According to Kletter, however, the struggle is part of the practice.
“Learning can be hard, it’s hard to be still and quiet, when you’re first starting out,” he says.
He recommends beginners start out with a short amount of time.
“Go to a quiet place; I personally like the outdoors but go wherever you know you’ll be comfortable and try it for five or six minutes.”
He continues, “Meditation is really beneficial for a lot of people, it’s a way to revitalize yourself and destress your life because nine times out of ten, the stressor is minimal in the scheme of life,” Kletter says.
It’s a stressful time of year, try meditating and see if it helps you. Don’t get frustrated if you believe you are not doing it correctly or it seems impossible. There are plenty of meditation amateurs out there. Plus, you can’t really be good at meditating anyway.