Notes on meditation #3
When I started my calm journey, it didn’t take long to hear a lot of people talking about meditation and it’s power in helping find a calmer mind. Like many people I’d always found the concept a bit woo woo and the idea of sitting down for a period of time doing nothing, difficult to get my head around. As someone who likes to be doing lots of stuff and driving forward with my goals, it seemed completely counter intuitive and I didn’t really understand how it would help me.
Observe the resistance
It was only when I began to observe and consider the resistance that would arise inside me about the idea of trying meditation, that I slowly became curious to understand more as to why. Taking some time to reflect on this, I started to think that perhaps it was exactly what I needed to help me slow down and to feel better. Conceptually I appreciate the concept that slowing down actually helps you make more progress more quickly but it is so hard to put into practice. Just as letting go often serves me far better than trying to control everything. These two lessons have been core to my journey so far.
a collective slow down
Collectively we’ve all been forced into letting go and slowing down this year and facing into all of the thoughts, feelings and emotions that this has triggered has been a challenge for everyone in different ways. Parts of that I’ve really enjoyed and other parts have made me feel scared and anxious and my head will go round and round with the fear, trying to figure out what I need to do next.
It turns out that one of the answers as to what I need to do, is to do nothing at all. And that’s where meditation reentered the ring for me. I’ve meditated on and off using an app for about a year now and there was a period where I started to feel a different sensation when I meditated. Instead of thoughts and feelings constantly surfacing to be observed and pushed away, I started to visualise myself in some kind of beautiful setting, just enjoying my surroundings whilst I focused on my breathing. But as life got crazier and I went through another big routine change, I lost the connection to my practice.
Over the last few months, once again things have been really difficult and I was starting to feel more and more frazzled and anxious, especially as it got towards the end of the day. My anxiety saw me revert to type and I would start to try and accomplish more and more tasks, frantically trying to tick everything off the to do list with the belief that this would return me to a safe space. It didn’t!
I knew that I needed to change something and so for some reason, I relistened to a Feel Better Live More podcast with a meditation teacher called Light Watkins. It gave me a new motivation for trying again to work on my meditation practice. What helped me was hearing him talk about the following three things…
starting to train
Firstly that meditation is about training your mind. And that training takes time – a lot of time. You need to see the bigger picture around the end goal and be aware that at the beginning of your practice, your head is likely to be full of everything. The key point here is that that is absolutely ok – that is your meditation at this point in time. So the fact that you can’t stop thinking and getting distracted doesn’t mean you can’t ‘do’ meditation or that it’s not working for you.
find what works for you
Secondly that you don’t have to be sitting cross legged – Light completely advocated meditating in whatever position works for you. For some reason, for me this was a breakthrough, along with his view that the best time to meditate is as soon as you wake up. This allowed me to crack fitting this in to my routine as I’ve now started plugging my ear phones in as soon as I wake up and completing my practice whilst lying in bed. This makes it so much more achievable for me to complete a daily practice and today I’m on day six of meditating everyday. Every day this week I have felt slightly more grounded than before and more settled with what’s going on around me, even though that hasn’t really become any less challenging.
the j word
Thirdly that it’s a journey and one that will definitely help you find your calm. We often live inside our heads all of the time and this is compounded by the design of the modern world and the way we are constantly overloaded with so much information coming at us from all directions. But all the time, we are sitting next to a completely blissful existence where we can find peace and freedom and one of the ways to cross over the bridge to that peace is through meditation.
Light also mentioned that no-one that is serious about meditating, does so with an app – but like with all aspects of this journey, I’m going to start with small steps!