Webinar presenter Kim Colegrove answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Demystifying Meditation and Mindfulness for Criminal Justice Professionals. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Is prayer the same thing as meditation, and can it be?
Kim Colegrove: I can only give you my personal opinion on this. When I work with people who are religious or devoted to a spiritual practice that involves prayer, I point out to them that prayer requires talking and asking. When we pray, we speak, we ask, we’re talking. I tell them meditation could be considered the listening portion of prayer.
Consider this, after you pray, do you ever just sit in silence to listen for the answers?
Audience Question: Do you find that there exists a stigma still today towards meditation and mindfulness practices, that people might avoid engaging it this way out of shame or even fear?
Kim Colegrove: Absolutely. I do encounter people who say to me, “Hey, I’m a Christian, and I’m not sure if meditation is okay with my religion? What I say is, meditation is not connected with or in opposition to any religion or spiritual philosophy. It can be, you can absolutely integrate it into your spiritual practice, but it can also be used as a secular, stand-alone, evidence-based practice because there’s so much science and research to support meditation as a viable practice. Yes, there’s still a stigma, but it is changing rapidly.
Audience Question: Any other resources and documentation of the benefits that you’d recommend?
Kim Colegrove: Well, I think it’s probably a Google search for most people to kind of scroll through and see what appeals to you. There are books by Jon Kabat Zinn, who is sort of known as the father of mindfulness in our Western culture. I’m trying to think off the top of my head, I would just seek out articles, blog articles, or maybe books for beginners. Please feel free to e-mail me and I can definitely come up with a list of resources, apps, websites, and books that I can share with you.
Audience Question: Can you talk a little bit about movement meditation, especially for those that cannot sit still?
Kim Colegrove: Sure. A lot of people say, “I feel meditative when I’m cycling. Can I count that as a meditation?” Or, “Can I do a walking meditation? Or gardening?” I absolutely do not discount the moving meditations. However, I do encourage people to do a sitting meditation or mindfulness practice. Anytime you’re moving, walking, cycling, doing art, creating, things like that, your brain is still engaged. I’m trying to help people find ways to completely unplug their brains and their bodies from all forms of doing, for at least a few minutes.
Audience Question: You have such a soothing voice. Do you have any guided meditations for us to listen to? And I think you mentioned earlier that you do have some free ones available at pausefirst.com. Is that right?
Kim Colegrove: I do. Pausefirst.com is my website address. Navigate to the Free Resources page. I have 1, 2, 3, and 5-minute guided relaxation audios and a full 15-minute guided meditation. You can also access my YouTube channel from that Free Resources page, where there are a few more free resources. We’re getting ready to add a lot more resources to the YouTube page, so be sure to subscribe while you’re there.
Audience Question: How often and how long should I meditate?
Kim Colegrove: Well, I really encourage people to work up to about 15-minutes a day. Research shows that in around 15-minutes a day, we can reap all of the benefits available from meditation. But I also strongly encourage you to start wherever you can. So, if 1 or 2 minutes at a time is all you can do, do that for a while. I promise you’ll reach a day—in a week or in six months, it doesn’t matter—you’ll reach a day where you can add a minute. Then, work your way up to about 15 minutes, adding a minute at a time as you go. Choose a time of day that works for you. We’re all different. If you’re a morning person, it might be a great way to start your day. If you’re not a morning person, then maybe lunchtime, at the end of your shift, or the end of your day. Just find a time of day that works best for you.
Audience Question: Is it okay that I sometimes fall asleep while meditating?
Kim Colegrove: Well, it’s okay. But when you fall asleep, you’re not meditating, you’re sleeping. You fall asleep because you’re exhausted. If you fall asleep every time you try to meditate, I encourage you to look at your sleep hygiene, your sleeping habits and try to improve your sleep quality and your sleep quantity. But it’s very common for people to fall asleep when they sit still because they’re going through life exhausted.
Audience Question: Do you have any recommended meditation techniques that can help reduce OCD-type behaviors?
Kim Colegrove: I am just going to honestly say, that is not my area of expertise, and I wish I did, but I do not.
Audience Question: How did you remove the way that I should be doing something, or that I need to make a list before I forget during meditation?
Kim Colegrove: Yeah, that’s one of the things you’ll have to push through in the beginning. The thoughts are going to pummel you, your to-do list is going to be loud and present in your mind, and the monkey mind chatter is going to turn on. With time and dedication, commitment, and practice, that will dissipate. You can learn to sort of take charge of your brain and body and say, “Brain, not now. After my meditation, we can deal with the thoughts. Body, not now. We’ll do it in 15 minutes, after my meditation.” This is doable. I promise.
Audience Question: Is self-hypnosis the same thing as meditation?
Kim Colegrove: Well, I don’t know that they’re the same thing necessarily. But I do think that practicing meditation would help people who want to try self-hypnosis, due to the quieting of thoughts and retreat from the external world. But I don’t know much about self-hypnosis.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Demystifying Meditation and Mindfulness for Criminal Justice Professionals.