Confessions of a Restless Mind
Meditation. You know it’s good for you. Often enough we learn about the benefits of practicing consciousness, with many studies supporting it. But for many people, myself included, the art of meditation can be fraught with anxiety, disappointment and feelings like I’m just not good enough when you Just. Can’t. Get. It.
THE INTERNAL RESISTANCE
Meditation and I didn’t gel for the longest of times. I had tried it on and off, usually more off than on, but it never resonated with me. I couldn’t focus on the breath and found it too hard to control my wandering mind. I would feel frustrated and dejected that I couldn’t grasp such a seemingly simple concept, which did not sit well with my perfectionist attitude.
I realize now that a lot of my resistance stemmed from holding onto a false image in my head of what meditation should look and feel like. Here are three meditation-myths:
Myth 1: There is a right and wrong way to meditate.
I thought I had to cultivate a blank mind otherwise I wasn’t meditating properly. Turns out it is completely NORMAL and acceptable for your mind to wander. I guess I didn’t fail Meditation 101 after all!
Myth 2: Meditation is only for people who are overworked, stressed or on a spiritual path.
What stress? I used to congratulate myself on my ability to keep my brain ‘on’ all the time. But would it surprise you to know that I have since discovered this is not a sustainable way to operate?! Peace of mind, no matter how brief, brings a sense of relief as you centre yourself in the present moment. Time for me to concede that meditation is for anyone who finds benefit with it *sheepish smile*
Myth 3: Busy people don’t have time to meditate.
Want to know the irony in this statement? The best time to slow down and take a few deep breaths is when you feel you don’t have time for it. It can actually help to re-focus and re-charge your batteries, making you more, not less, productive.
THE LAST STAND
Before my meditation about-face, the last time I attempted the practice was in 2006, about a year after falling critically ill, because my inner circle thought it would be good for my healing journey.
Best intentions aside, when you do something to please others it can breed internal resistance as it isn’t a true decision by you. I wanted to heal myself but I hadn’t worked out what that meant for me, so instead I went along with a plan that was not of my creation.
I diligently attended an eight-week course. But I didn’t want to be there and carried the internal baggage of This didn’t work for me in the past and I am so bad at this, which was always going to be counterproductive.
Whilst I surely got some meditation brownie points for physically showing up each week, I didn’t emotionally or spiritually commit.
I made the odd half-hearted attempt, but honestly, I was quite happy to let my mind wander from the visualization and breathing exercises and instead go over my very important to-do list, the latest pair of shoes I was coveting, and anything but guided imagery and the sound of my own breath! My inability to ‘get it’ when it seemed I most needed to just reinforced my belief that meditation was not for me.
FROM CROCK TO CONVERT, LET’S BRING IT!
At the start of 2014 I was ready. I made a conscious choice to give my practice another chance, with actual effort this time. It took a lot of inner work to arrive at the point where I could admit that meditation is something I need in my life.
Digging deep and reflecting on why I had so stubbornly resisted, I realized it came down to this:
I couldn’t immediately ‘be good at it’ and ‘do it right.’ As a Type A personality with perfectionist standards I considered this a huge failure on my part. To prevent any further perceived failures, I convinced myself that meditation was public enemy number one and I had no time for it.
Why had I so stubbornly resisted? My perfectionist attitude didn’t like the fact I couldn’t ‘be good at it’ and ‘do it right’.
WHOA! TALK ABOUT REVELATIONS!
I am a meditation convert because I worked through my barriers and I decided to go for it. I didn’t do it because someone else thought it would be good for me or because it’s the latest fad and everyone’s into it. I did it because I am 9 years into my healing journey from a chronic medical condition and my mind and body were exhausted from the strain; I was juggling work and study; my inner critic was deafening; and I was feeling disconnected from the present moment (cue too much time on social media and always thinking 10 steps ahead!).
THE LESSON IN ALL OF THIS?
Go with what feels right at a time that feels right for you. You may think meditation is a crock, be absolutely rocking it, or somewhere in between.
Know that you are exactly where you are meant to be… Namasté!
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