Meditation has always intimidated me. I used to think it was mainly for monks or people deeply devoted to yoga. I thought there was one correct way to do it, and that it involved hours of silence and sitting still. I wouldn’t be good at either.
I’d heard that meditation could help lower high blood pressure and relieve stress and anxiety, all of which I have. But I wondered if there was some trick, maybe a secret meditation code, that I would never be privy to. So for years, I never attempted it.
I’ve been working on mindfulness and practicing deep breathing techniques. The next logical step for me is meditation. I did some research and learned that it isn’t as mysterious as I once believed. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort in order to reap the benefits.
It can be as simple as sitting in a chair in a quiet room for five minutes, counting your inhales and exhales. Or going for a walk, deep breathing, and concentrating on the movement of your body.
My daughters said to check out the app, Headspace. The trial period is free, so I decided to give it a shot. One evening I went into our family room and settled in for my first ten minute session. I turned off the lights and sat on the floor in a comfortable position. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the man’s voice on the app (which sounds kind and soothing), instructing me to breathe deep and slow.
It was going well for the first few minutes. That is, until our dog walked into the room. He licked my face and nudged my arm with his nose so I’d pet him. He plopped right next to me and rolled over, wanting his tummy scratched. Thirty seconds later, my husband barged in and wondered what time I wanted to watch TV. I guess I should’ve warned both of them I was unavailable for ten minutes.
The next couple of sessions went better. But my problem was trying to keep my head clear. It felt like a hundred thoughts constantly invaded my quiet time. What should I make for dinner? I forgot to call Mom. I need to transfer money to that other account. What movie do I want to see this weekend? My mind goes a million miles a minute. It’s hard to turn it off on demand.
This is where the man on the Headspace app helped me. He said if your mind wanders, it’s okay. Let it wander. Don’t fight the random thoughts.
There was one explanation I really liked. He said to pretend you’re on a street corner watching cars go by. Each of those cars is a thought. You can’t possibly stop them from coming. Just be still and watch them drive past. The cars (thoughts) come. And they go. Let them. Then get back to counting your breaths.
Like any new task, meditation takes practice. Some days I have more concentration than others. But that’s okay. Every day I look forward to that calm, zen feeling that washes over me.
Meditation empowers me. I’m in control of my thoughts, my breathing, my anxiety.
Even when my dog comes into the room.
First image courtesy of here
Second image courtesy of here