Mind Workout = Meditation. Just thought I’d start with that.
I’ve been finding it difficult to get back into meditation of late. But I’ve recently realised something that’s really helped me.
I have been meditating for many years now, although over the last year my practice has been all over the place. I had gone to workshops and the like in the past. But not for a long time. Recently, though, I went to a friend’s house. She happens to be a meditation teacher and she guided another friend and myself through a 40 minute meditation, or thereabouts. She wouldn’t tell us how long she would guide us for, which did nothing to calm my ‘clock mind’!
I had sat in a very uncomfortable position. I could feel the pins and needles in my leg turning into that weird ‘numb’ pain and the muscles in my back were having a bad time too. So I fidgeted a bit, but also tried to breathe through it whilst my mind was saying “This is crazy, you’re going to hurt yourself!” Basically, I didn’t feel that I was being very present or mindful despite trying to always come back to my breath.
Well, it turns out that 30 minutes of trying to return to your breath over and over again is exactly what meditation is all about, and that mindful muscle; that awareness and concentration area of my brain, really got a proper rigorous workout in those 30 minutes. Did I then proceed to meditate for the rest of the week? Nope! It took me many days after to meditate on my own again. But the experience left me with two things. First, I was much, much more present in that week than I’ve been for a long time. The 30 minutes or so of grunting through a meditation session left me with some real positive after-effects. I felt much calmer, I felt more aware, I was a lot more connected to my days. I could hardly believe it. I almost felt more present in the days after, than I did when I was sitting on my numb legs. It was amazing! I felt like I was back. I’d felt so lost, and some very important part of me had returned.
Meditation, especially for a longer stint can send you into a place that you don’t often visit. It can be a deeply interesting and moving experience, to be with yourself, just as you are. To sit in pure awareness.
It leaves you with the deep seated knowledge that you are not your thoughts. Believe me, that is a reassuring truth when your mind is often tail spinning into chaos. Knowing that you have a part of you that can be still and open makes you realize that there’s more to you than just your worries. You do have the ability to connect to a deeper wisdom that resides within you, if you just step out of your own way and let it unfold for you. That doesn’t really happen in a short ten minute meditation, although that still has amazing benefits to strengthen your ‘not-floating-off-into-worries’ mind.
The second realisation was that I needed to be guided. Of course I did! I couldn’t believe that this hadn’t occurred to me sooner. Yes it’s fine to sit in meditation on your own as often as you like, but believe me, you gain a lot more from someone talking you through it now and again. It’s like exercising at home versus going to a group workout class. One of them is going to push you a bit further, and you’ll really feel it during the next few days.
So now I am digging out all my guided meditation CD’s and audio files, and looking online for free ones to follow. And also asking my friend if we can do another session of mediation together.
Yet this doesn’t have to be a daily thing. Some of these meditations are quite long. Longer than you might find you have every morning. But that’s absolutely fine. I’ve come to see, that now and again – even once a month if it has to be – that a longer stint, say 30 to 40 minutes in a guided meditation, will have some seriously wonderful ripple effects happening in the rest of your days, whether you carry on with your own meditation or not. It also leaves you feeling a lot better about ‘only’ fitting in 10 or 15 minutes a morning here and there.
Quite a few of the online meditations that are available aren’t for everyone. So search for ones that feel the most right to you. But I strongly suggest that if you can, find a proper meditation teacher who’d be willing to work with you now and again. I’ve felt the benefits first hand, and am eager to do that again. It was a different experience meditating with someone there, talking directly to you, that an audio track; that could be so easily turned off!
After all, who was I kidding? I needed help! And there’s nothing wrong with that. If you find yourself, like me, completely off the meditation path for a while – then get a good guide to show you the way back. You’ll be so grateful you did.
Mind illustration from: http://www.silentjourney.com/blog/meditation-studies/