“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”
If you hear the word meditation and immediately think of hippies, cross-legged Buddhas and a lot of ‘omm-ing’, you’d be forgiven: I used to think this too. If you’d have told me a year or two ago that I’d be writing about meditation, let along practising it, I’d have found it amusing.
I first became interested in meditation when I was looking for ways to calm my anxiety. In recent years, I’ve found my brain to be a lot busier, and struggle sometimes to switch off those thoughts, worries, concerns and regrets. I started to lose sleep; found certain social situations daunting and spent countless hours going over and over things in my head.
Meditation kept popping up as I looked into how I could make things easier for myself, and I kept disregarding it. “It’s not for me”, I’d say, or, “that won’t work”. It wasn’t until I read Ruby Wax’s booked A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled that I started to take it a bit more seriously.
Meditating isn’t easy: a lot of people I’ve talked to think you simply sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and do nothing. Actually, doing nothing isn’t what you’re trying to achieve: it’s thinking nothing. In the words of Ruby herself:
“We’re caught up in distraction all the time[…]It takes gallons of willpower to get yourself to sit and practice.”
The first time I tried to meditate, I ended up writing the shopping list in my head; and thinking about that email I sent earlier in the day; and whether or not that email came across rude or not; and whether that meant I was a terrible human being and maybe I’ll get fired? It’s safe to say, I didn’t end that experience feeling calm and zen and like a floating cloud. In fact, my torturous brain seemed to be having a field day.
But this is totally normal. Meditation takes practice, but it’s something that I truly believe will help calm my mind, and bring my focus back. That’s why I’m challenging myself to a 30-day meditation journey.
Throughout November, I’ve tasked myself with meditating every single day. It can be for 5 minutes, or 20 minutes, or a whole hour if I fancy it. No pressure. This is for me, not for anyone else.
I’ve had the Calm app on my phone for a while, and it’s just sat that doing nothing. Now is it’s moment of glory.
On Wednesday, I got home from work, went upstairs, sat on my bed and meditated for 15 minutes. After a busy day in the office that had left me feeling a little frazzled and with a to-do list three times the size it had been in the morning, just quarter of an hour to myself with no distractions and no worries was exactly what I needed. Sure, my mind wandered from time to time, but when the 15 minutes was up and I opened my eyes, the world didn’t seem quite so overwhelming.
I’ll keep you updated on how my challenge is going. If I miss a day, or don’t fancy it one weekend, I won’t punish myself. Like I said, this isn’t to prove anything other than that meditation can really work wonders.