If you'd like to read more on how to meditate after you finish with this blog, check out the following post:
How to Meditate
How Meditation Got Easier for Me
For those of us recovering anti-sit-still folks, I broke down my experience with meditation into a 3-part process to demonstrate why one should hang in there with the whole meditation thing.
Part 1: I Hate This. I Can’t Stand This. Why Am I Doing This?
As a person who formerly required a lobotomy in order to not think and sit still at the same time, I found it incredibly uncomfortable to sit for more than 30 seconds. There are so many things that I could be doing. Why on earth would I waste 15 minutes sitting here doing nothing? When does the runaway thought train stop? How much longer do I have? Only seven minutes have passed?! Am I sitting right? Am I supposed to say “OM” or something? Perhaps I need a special chair. Some candles?
Eventually I became bored with this brand of incessant mental banter, so I decided to simply sit or lay down however it felt comfortable to me in that moment and at least have some productive thoughts if I couldn’t manage to stop thinking altogether. I proceeded to thoughtfully engineer the remainder of the day and the daunting tasks that lie ahead only to be re-met with the same question seconds later. Why am I doing this? I could be getting all of these things done rather than wasting time thinking about them.
It was just then that a subtle, inner whisper answered my unconscious prayer. I had really been struggling with a creative aspect on a project at work, and a brilliant solution unfolded as effortlessly as breathing. I opened my eyes to also discover how perfectly peaceful, clear, and calm I felt. A realization had washed over me, and it took only 15 minutes to solve a month-old problem while taming my constant undercurrent of anxiety. The question then became “Why haven’t I been doing this?”
Part 2: Twenty-Two Minutes Have Already Gone By?
Luckily I was witty enough to not expect Zen overnight, and I cynically believed that nothing is ever as good as the first time. So I made a self-agreement that if after 30 days I didn’t feel like it was “doing anything,” I could toss it out and try something else.
It was the meditation after this agreement where I noticed that the mental banter began to shut off altogether after a certain period of time, and the successive meditations in the coming days brought even more peace, clarity, and understanding.
I soon learned that somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes, I can take a deep breath, and the mental banter slowly begins to fade. I learned that somewhere between 9 and 11 minutes, I can really tune into my body’s intelligence—aches and pains and certain feelings related to them—and even release them during meditation. I learned that somewhere around minute 13 I stop caring about the clock. I also begin to engage in a sacred soiree with my inner depth. The physical body seems to completely fall away, and there is only my Self and the soiree. As the mental banter slowly subsides, love and fear become one. I finally could understand the critical importance of sitting with myself for at least 15 minutes every day, if for nothing more than to touch this space.
Part 3: Ah, So This is Why
On my 30th day of practicing meditation, I had a great realization: I can access this space immediately whenever challenging life situations arise. I can comfortably call in this peaceful presence as needed since I already do so regularly in meditation. Not to mention, I learned a lot about myself during meditation as well. The 5 to 7 minute mark taught me that I need at least 5 minutes after an upsetting situation in order to respond appropriately rather than react irrationally. That amount of time allows me the personal space to clear the mental fog of distraction and experience a clearer understanding of what I need to do or say, if anything.
It’s been about year now since I considered a lobotomy over meditation, and I sure am glad that I didn’t go the lobotomy route. Not only is meditation less invasive, but it also ushers in a guiding light to help me find my way home.
The flower photo comes from Becky Stiller. You can check out her beautiful work on this flickr link.