Well, I finally did it. I started taking a meditation class. Sure, I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years and loving it, but there was always a nagging concept at the back of my brain that I should also practice meditation. Everything I read about it leads me to believe that meditation renders amazing health benefits. Plus, I want to be able to share what I learn with my coaching clients.
Well, therein lies the rub. The practice has pushed my patience to the limit. In class, no problem – I can eke out the requisite 15 minutes, and even enjoy it a bit. At home, alone, sitting cross-legged on the floor, I find I can barely sit still for three minutes. Monkey mind and monkey body get the better of me.
So what to do? After all, I make my living spewing recommendations for getting things done in other people’s lives. Now it’s time to take my own medicine. How can I make this work for me?
First, I decided to quit being mad at myself and accept the fact that I can only do what I can do in this moment. I start with small steps, even if it’s only three minutes or four minutes. I also allow myself the possibility that meditation just might not be right for me, and that I have permission to abandon it. After all, why suffer over an extracurricular activity? That feels good, freeing even. But I decide to give it a shot for the next several weeks and just see how it goes. I’ve already committed time and substantial money, so what’s the harm in seeing it through to the end?
Next, I give up fighting my thoughts. And I sure have plenty of them. I can’t stop them from passing through my ever-busy brain, but rather than jump up to write them down (which is my immediate impulse), I let them float by. This is the hardest and scariest part for me. Will I forget them later? Why these ideas are suddenly so important actually baffles me, but perhaps that answer will appear over time.
Truly, the biggest hurdle has been that sitting around in stillness for 20 minutes has not felt worthy of my time. I am hoping that I will start to feel the yummy, round edges of peaceful clarity I’ve heard tell of that will convince me otherwise.
Still more to consider. I play scientist and investigate my circumstances. What is it about class that makes it easier for me to stay in one spot? Surprise, surprise! After some experimenting, I find that when I sit in a hardback chair, I am much better at sitting still. Even after all these years of yoga, sitting with on a cushion with a straight back, cross-legged on the floor is not pleasant for me. Although it looks cool, apparently, it’s not conducive to freeing my mind. So, I let go of my expectations of how meditation should look, to figure out how it works for me. I am so proud: I meditated for ten minutes today and felt I could have done more! I even started to sense a little bit of the alleged, restful yummy. Hallelujah!
So there it is. It’s a journey. Will I keep up the practice after class is over? Not sure, but I feel good that I am finding a way to push through my immediate barriers. I guess things don’t always work the way I expect them to, but in the end, what matters is that I can find creative ways to make things work for me.
If you want to read more about mindfulness and experiment with some cool exercises , check out this Boston Globe article, or learn more about the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program by visiting http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/stress/index.aspx .
In whatever way you find it, may peace be with you! (Oh, and if meditating makes me look more like the gal in the photo above, I may continue indefinitely.)