There’s so much evidence about the health benefits of meditation. So many people who swear by the transformational powers of meditation and the impact it has had on their life. And so many books, classes, programs and gurus spreading the plethora of varied techniques.
Yet, if you’re anything like me, have you ever wondered how you stop meditation from feeling so illusive?
For so long meditation felt like a should. One of those things that I was supposed to do, but really didn’t want to. One of those things that I always put off until the last possible minute, secretly knowing that I would never get to it and would try the merry dance all over again the next day.
I read about meditating. I talked to people about meditating. I did meditation programs. I got it intellectually and I really did try, but it wasn’t anywhere close to being a lived experience that was a regular part of my life and I certainly hadn’t felt those benefits that everyone else was talking about.
It all felt too hard and, if I’m honest, I was becoming increasingly disillusioned by the whole thing.
Then I had one of those pivotal moments. I realized that for me, meditation had become a battle that I was always going to lose because I had built it up to be a massive thing.
It felt like being a kid again and being told my parents I had to do this thing and every inch of my body was telling me that it was impossible.
It felt like a battle I was ill-equipped for, unenthusiastic about and incredibly daunted by. I had created a list of perfect conditions required before I could meditate well, and of course they never materialized.
I realized that I was trying to replicate other people’s experience of meditation and not find my own.
I finally stepped back from meditating their way and got curious about finding my way.
I dropped the shopping list of benefits I had read about and realized that what I wanted was a clearer mind and a greater sense of peace.
I realized I wanted simple, easeful and recharging and all that I had been trying had felt the complete opposite; complex, difficult and demoralizing.
At its core meditation is bringing awareness to the present moment. Can’t get more simple than that, right?
It’s a practice of being and not doing. Well, the amount of frantic doing I had factored into the whole thing had tipped the scales dramatically away from being.
I allowed myself to drop all the expectations and get curious.
I wrote about it and noticed myself disappearing and the words flowing out of me. I felt my mind clear and a greater sense of peace. Interesting.
I walked in nature, in awe of its beauty. I felt my mind clear and peace rise. Ok, interesting.
I found myself sitting more and more, simply being aware of what was circulating in my mind.
And suddenly it slowly happened. No bells, no mat, no stool or perfect conditions in site but my mind cleared. I accessed my creativity in a way I had never done so before. I felt less anxious, less stressed and more peace. Not because I was doing what someone else told me to do but because I had found something within myself.
I was being and no longer doing. This is what meditation looks like to me.
Sometimes I think we tackle things the wrong way. We make things harder for ourselves with all the very best intentions.
We try to do the right thing when the best thing for us looks very different.
Meditation is no formula. It is no magic bullet. It is finding your way to bring awareness to you, to your life, to your being. Find that. Chase that. Live that.