DAY 1: Settles self, cross-legged. Poised and wakeful. Lovely. Contemplates qualities of mountain with thoughts like fluffy clouds gliding gently by… Fiddles with hands… Feel awkward. Palms up? Down? On knees? Gently resting on my tummy… Hmmm… Nice. Soft… Right. Audio on. Short tussle with pillow. Audio. Ah… Right. Sit up. Shh. Right... Mountain. And go, Deepak…
DAYS 2 – 9: Nothing. Didn’t even try. Complete failure.
I know people who, with honesty, integrity and clear eyes, say they meditate on a daily basis. They have found a blissful space of yogically aligned, ethereally earthed respiratory nirvana. That isn’t me right now. I’m more of an ‘ebb and flow’ sort of person. Sometimes more ebb than flow. But those times when I experience what I'd describe as meditative alignment are like stars in the sky.
If you’ve read more than a few of my blog posts, you’ll have noticed me wanging on about meditation before. I do honestly believe it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And when I find that space, it’s a place of relief and surrender and letting go. It feels like coming home to something in the very core of who I am. I don’t have to control anything, think about anything or be anything other than in the moment. Not in the past, or the future. Just here now. And that can feel enormously safe and comforting.
Of course, starting to meditate also seems to give licence to every thought I could possibly have to storm noisily to the front of my mental queue, yelling “Me first, me first!” having lost their piece of paper with a number on it… And I also get quite creative, following intriguing crumb trails deep into forests. But I forgive myself. I’m a baby soul. Learning, learning, learning.
Because once, early on in my exploration of meditation, I tuned into my heart, focusing purely on its rhythm in my chest, and suddenly I experienced a white light move through my body, rushing upwards into my head. And it was sublimely beautiful and I felt totally alive. And then it was gone. But that night I slept deeply into every corner of my body and felt very strongly, that, in that moment, I’d had a taste of bliss.
Of course you can’t go looking for the same experience every time you get cross-legged. It doesn’t work like that. And it’s SO easy to try too hard. But I know it’s there - or something similar - and all I can do is let it come to me. When it knows I’m ready and open and not forcing anything.
So now I am honestly intrigued by my apparent reluctance to do something I love, that feels good and that is all about the upsides.
Scientific studies have shown that meditation reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. It can control pain and lower blood pressure. It makes you more focused and able to handle emotions and it can alleviate depression and help you sleep better.
And then of course there’s my white light and that wonderful sense of calm that I get when I drop inside and let the noise of life fade out.
The common reasons why people don’t meditate - such as lack of time, finding it boring, feeling silly or not knowing how - don’t apply. I know about setting a timer so I don’t keep wondering how long I’ve got left. I have guided meditations stored on my iPod, saved on YouTube and in my head, and I know I can meditate on a bus, while walking, sitting up or lying down, looking at a candle or focusing on my breath…
So what’s the problem?
After a bit of pondering, I’ve reached the following conclusion – I’m too busy to remember why meditation is so very, very good for me. And I’m too busy to sit down and do what feels like nothing when there’s ‘useful stuff’ I should be doing I’m also too busy to contemplate mountains. Or candles. Or breathing.
Of course I’m not too busy. I just think I am. Not when 15 minutes is all it takes. Not when I can easily spend that long on Facebook or making a cup of tea or going through my inbox, which, let’s face it, isn’t great fun.
And it comes back to that question of self worth. If I value my health, happiness and general sanity, there is no question. I choose meditation over a troublesome inbox any day - and I am worth more than Facebook. There. I’ve said it.
So now, having publicly flung down my own gauntlet. To myself. I’m picking it up again. Starting this evening...
And if I fall off the wagon, I just have to remind myself that it’s worth getting back on for that awesome ride.
Image from rawforbeauty.com