I have been meaning to write this post for aaaaages. Ever since I actually did a meditation course in mid May (yes that’s right, almost 2 months ago) but as I didn’t start it at the moment of inspiration I’ve been struggling to get back to it ever since. I think the issue was that I didn’t know how to approach it. I really hate when I go to some of those pages about meditation and everything is written in self help speak that sounds downright poxy and makes me cringe inside. It’s a shame really as it means I miss the message but it is what it is. Anyway, no judgy judgy here. That shit obviously “speaks” to some people so it has it’s place and I have mine.
I have never really been a meditation person. I couldn’t do it (or so I thought and told anyone who would listen). I was under the impression that my mind was especially different to everyone else’s and just couldn’t be stilled. I told this to anyone and everyone when the subject of meditation came up and no one bothered to correct me so I figured I was right. Looking back I think the main issues for me were:
- The courses I attended were full of full on hippies and while I don’t have an issue with hippies and they were all very nice I just felt like I didn’t belong. I didn’t identify with the crowd.
- The sessions were always connected with some sort of underlying philosophy (ie Buddhism) that I didn’t subscribe to so I kinda felt like an impostor (oooo again with the not belonging).
- I didn’t really understand anything about meditation AT ALL – it’s purpose, why people did it etc.
- I didn’t know HOW to meditate (this was really the biggest problem) so when I was sitting there with my mind racing I had no idea how to stop it, slow it down, any techniques at all really. And I didn’t know that THIS WAS NORMAL and that the point of meditating was to try and CHANGE THAT. DUH. (For a smart person I seem pretty damn stupid in this story).
- I didn’t feel like I had the time to meditate. I was under the impression that I needed to do a 1 hour session every day. This is not true.
So these were my barriers to getting started with meditation, barriers that some of you probably face too. If you do then I highly recommend doing a proper meditation course. Not just a rock up and sit down free session at the local meditation centre, but a proper beginners course where they will say to you “so if this happens, you can try this” yada yada yada. This shit is invaluable. Well it’s been invaluable to me. I found this course on the Gold Coast called “8 Ways to Meditate” and it was perfect. It was essentially meditation for dummies and that was exactly what I needed. The thing I liked best about this course was that it gave me 8 different easy ways that I could approach meditation, allowing me to choose the ones that worked best for me. I prefer this to the “my way or the highway” approach. It makes the practice more accessible for little ol’ people like me. I know there are those that feel the process should be deep and complex but I call bullshit on that. Yeah it can be that way if that’s your bag but it is by no means the only way to successfully meditate.
Meditation for me was really the last tool in my ever expanding ‘dealing with anxiety’ belt. I had it pretty much under control through exercise, the naturopath and all that other stuff I bang on about here but I was still getting little episodes every so often and it was pissing me off. I was so sick of it. I see a psych to talk about it on an ad-hoc basis and she was the one that really pushed me and said “Look chick, you need to find a way to get into meditation. Your mind just never stops and you NEED to learn how to slow it down. I really don’t see any other way for you”. I love my psych (in a not stalkerish kinda way) and respect her a lot. She has helped me so much and her advice always seems to be right on the money. So I took it and went off and found my course. Actually I decided I was going to find a course and then bam!, this course arrived in my inbox via one of those coupon emails. Crazy huh. I love when things just happen like that. Thanks universe. I owe you one!
I did a bit of prep work for about 3 weeks before I went (just because I thought I needed it – not for the course, just for my sanity). A friend gave me some tips and suggested I just start trying to do 2 mins per day and then when I felt ready to increase it to 3 mins and so on and so forth working up to 10 mins. I only made it to 3 mins by the time I went to the course but it actually seemed to work pretty well. With time I really did feel that it made quite a bit of difference overall.
And don’t just take it from me. There are plenty of studies around the place now banging on about the positive effects of meditation. And the real cracker? All you need is 10 mins a day to make a positive change to your life. Former monk, Andy Puddicome, explains it all here. If there is one thing those monks be knowing, it’s meditation. The talk goes for under 10 mins and it is fascinating. I highly recommend you take the time to check it out. I’ve even embedded the vid into my page so you don’t have to go anywhere else to watch it. Easy!
Despite all this really great stuff I have slipped into not really meditating again lately (yes I am only human after all) so in order to inspire me and hopefully some others I’m going to set myself a little meditation challenge and blog about it. More on that soon but if this is something you’d like to do too then you are more than welcome to join me for the ride!
*I’m sure there is a subset of the population for whom meditation is truly unsuccessful no matter what they try and I’m not suggesting otherwise. I have also heard of it being a bit traumatic for people as it raises damaging experiences for them that they have buried in the back of their mind. I totally respect if this is the case for you. But for everyone else I am saying: Don’t knock it ’til you try it. And I mean give it a red hot go.