My journey with meditation had a lot of false starts. It was definitely a skill that I had to wait for the right time and energy to begin to learn. Once I started with the right intentions and reasons, I haven’t stopped and it has become the most valuable practice in my life.
My previous attempts at learning and practicing meditation were for the wrong intentions – because someone else had told me it would be beneficial, or because it was becoming the new trend to try – and not because I wanted to do it or was curious to try.
At the time, I was overwhelmed with new medical conditions I didn’t understand, stressed about my health and work, and physically and mentally I was burnt out to say the very least. If I had already had a meditation practice in place it would have been very beneficial for me and exactly what I needed.
I had started with a popular meditation app with short 10 minute meditations. It was uncomfortable for me to stay still and focused for the 10 minutes while also being over before I had even started to relax into it. I now know from experience that meditation can take time to get used to, for the thoughts to slow and we really have to wait for the dust to settle around us which can take quite some time and many sessions. I didn’t get the point or feel any effect from it, and now I understand that consistency is the key to this practice. I didn’t last long with this particular meditation app practice but kept it in the back of my mind as something to try again later.
As I am constantly reminded, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
Little did I know that what I needed was a hard reset and a huge jump start to get me into a regular meditation practice. A little over a year later, I visited a teacher who specializes in meditation and hypnotherapy who performed a personalized guided meditation for over 40 minutes. After the first session, I felt amazing, as though my mind had had a break from my body, the constant whirring of thoughts and the incessant exhaustion. After a few sessions for a couple of weeks, I realized that something had shifted within me. My mind was active and absorbing again, I was curious and learning, and keen to engage in the world. It was like my mind had been given a deep clean of all the stressful thoughts and worries, and I felt like I had space and quiet again.
Since this jump start and reset, I’ve been using meditation tracks several times a day. At the moment I start my day with a short 10 minute meditation to help my mind and body ease into the day. Physically, I struggle if I go from lying down for a long time to suddenly being upright and moving around a lot, so I listen to a meditation track while lying on my heat mat to warm and relax my muscles. Mentally, my mind is always in a state of ‘another day to get through with pain’ and overthinking, which practicing meditation stops that thinking in its tracks and makes me focus on the present moment, not the next 12-16 hours.
Later in the day when I am ready to have an afternoon nap, I will start a meditation track – either a longer hypnosis or binaural meditation – to ease me into sleep. Usually I am asleep before the track ends!
Another perk of a lot of the meditation apps is the introduction of sleep stories. These are a slow and quietly narrated story with minimal storyline that catches your attention at the start of the story while your mind is still active, and then drifts off into slower and quieter nothingness to ease you into sleep. I love using sleep stories when my mind is busy at the end of the day and if I haven’t had enough time to wind down before bed. There are several stories on my favourite apps that I am yet to hear the ending of!
Even though meditation is not goal orientated, these days my favourite part of meditation is that it strengthens my equanimity. It means to maintain a state of mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation or uncertain and trying times. For me, it feels like dropping an anchor. Finding a place that is grounded inside myself that is solid with roots deeply and firmly in the ground, while the storm rolls around me. It is not letting your emotions or thoughts spiral into reactions, in turn making the situation harder to deal with as you have the primary challenge and then adding a secondary challenge with your emotional response.
Keeping balanced while in the middle of difficult times and circumstances is a moment to moment practice and will never be perfect. The key point of meditation is practice – there is never a point of when we arrive with all the knowledge and skills to navigate everything. We are constantly being given new experiences and challenges in life to overcome or learn to accept, and it is in the action of continually returning to practicing meditation that is the goal of meditation. That we choose to be present and practice, to give ourselves a moment to center and ground ourselves, to create space, and to be curious and explore the present moment.
For me, meditation is the daily clean of my mind before the busyness of the day overtakes it. By being a daily practice, it stops the thoughts and worries building up and keeps it at a manageable level. It makes everything much more manageable to deal with, regardless of the difficulty, and keeps me feeling grounded to my core self.
Have you had an experience with meditation that you would like to share? Please leave a comment below!
Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.
Following on from my meditation journey post, I thought I would share some of my favorite meditation apps, teachers and people!
After a long day of trying to keep your head up and survive, it can be hard to remember the good little things that happened during the day. Gratitude becomes a giant exhale for the day. Get the bad stuff out of the way, and let’s focus on the good things and lighten the load.
October is Mental Health Awareness month and here are a few things we can do to support mental health.
Matt Haig is a brilliant writer and human being who is constantly investigating and questioning the effect of modern life on our mental health. He is a huge advocate for mental health wellness, and has shared his experiences through his multiple fiction works and his non-fiction books.
We are all aware of the mental health campaigns urging us to check in with each other, to start the conversation about someone’s mental health… but do you know how to support and guide them to resources if they say “No, I’m not ok”?. What are the next steps to take? Do you feel confident to have that discussion? Read more about my experience completing the Mental Health First Aid course.