When I started down this path almost two years ago it really hadn’t evolved into any sort of meditation practice. It started with a book. Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart was the spark. From there it developed into a considerable Amazon purchase of six to eight more books including Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. It was a first step. I’d read a chapter at work and begin sitting in my chair following the instructions written out. Half the time I found myself nodding off; I couldn’t stay focused. It didn’t seem to be doing anything. The books continued and finally I downloaded the Headspace App and something clicked. The ten introductory lessons were exactly what I needed. Guided meditation with a calm voice reassuring me and giving cues to bring the focus back to the breath as the mind wandered all over the place.
The reading continues to this day. Having a book on the topic always on the go has really helped keep the meditation practice focused. Daily reminders, quotes, and readings seem to help the mind aware during the day. As mentioned previous the collection of books will continue to grow. And if they run out they are easy to jump back to the beginning and read.
Ten months later of daily practice and here we are. Are there days where it feels as though it was a complete waste of time; absolutely. Days where it goes so quick that I’m sure I fell asleep. Days where the mind is so active and energized that focusing on the breath feels nearly impossible! Yet through all of the ups and downs there is a constant. The daily practice has led to a few key things.
The meditation is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning. With a clear mind it’s nice to sit down and start the day with meditation. It becomes a daily anchor for me; a habit to look inside and remind myself. Headspace has the added benefit of focusing on specific topics through the meditation practice. Perhaps a 10 day session on Balance to start followed by 10 days on Gratitude. As you move into the Advanced lessons they move towards silence. With a beginning cue and ending cue. It has now become something to look forward to every morning.
The constant reminder to focus on the breath has truly increased my awareness of things going on around me. The idea of being present with life becomes much more clear as you take the daily meditation practice out into the real world. Suddenly driving to work in the morning isn’t so frustrating. Those angry emotions at the guy who just cut me off become external to me. It’s as if the emotions themselves become detached for you to be able to grab and view in the palm of your hand. The anger no longer flares up inside but rather flares with the awareness suddenly noticing and saying “Ah-Ha! There it is” In those moments once the emotion has been identified separately the power wanes. You can begin to question where the anger comes from (perhaps fear of not being in control) and focus on the breath allowing the strong emotions to simply fade away.
The point of meditation isn’t in general supposed to be a source of happiness but rather a path to allow you to see the emotions inside and recognize life for what it is. Moving towards this path has had the added effect for me to appreciate life to a much greater extent. Finding passion for the things that interest me and overall being happier in life. It’s been a slow crawl and yet being present in life allows you to appreciate more of the moments as they arise. Those moments are both positive and negative yet appreciating them all for what they are has led to a sense of well-being.
Yea what a scary word. Being vulnerable. Well as someone who trains at the gym six days a week and focus on a maximum Wilks score combined with PR’s and aesthetics. Where does vulnerability fit into this picture. Surprisingly it really opens life up. As someone who was habitually closed off the vulnerability piece has really been the most foreign. Deep conversations, writings, etc. feels invigorating. Having deep conversations that were previously unheard of now exist in my life. Is it every day? Of course not, but I’m open to it as it happens. In being vulnerable you really open yourself up to what life has in store for you and you accept it.
If there is one thing I’d leave you with its to give it a shot. Pick up a book on meditation or mindfulness and see if it appeals to you. Download the free Headspace App and give the 10 free sessions a shot; see what happens. At the worst you can say you tried meditating and it wasn’t for you. Yet if you enjoy it, well then perhaps you have found a new part of your life that you will be surprised you never found in your life before. Give it a shot.