I’m terrible at meditation.
I’ve been doing it every morning for almost a full year and yet . . .
I haven’t reach enlightenment.
I don’t feel blissful after my sessions.
I’m missing those epiphanies that come with perfect stillness.
And you couldn’t pay me to stop.
Most mornings I start my Headspace timer and settle in. I count my breaths, as I was taught, 1 on the in breath and 2 on the out . . . all the way to 10 then I start at 1 again.
That’s if I can make it to 10.
Almost immediately my brain starts thinking of the vacation plans that are just around the corner or the holiday card list I have to dig up. Did Sally just not see me when I waved? And I have to remember to reserve those tickets. I’m volunteering at the school—where am I suppose to go? And of course the biggie . . . what’s for dinner tonight?
As soon as I can, sometimes that’s right away and sometimes it’s after the final gong, I acknowledge that I’m thinking at a time I’ve designated for meditation and I gently, sweetly direct my mind to the breath counting.
Again and again and again and again and again.
I’d have thought I’d be better at this by now, but every session is a new chance to let my brain run wild. But I persevere. Showing up and practicing.
This is not at all how I pictured meditation.
I’m supposed to fall into a deep rejuvenating trance that allows my memory to improve, my stress levels to disappear and my capacity for compassion to triple.
What I’ve found instead is a practice.
It’s literally an exercise for my brain.
It’s training and active and not at all relaxing. And yet . . .
My memory improves because I practice remembering things for later—after my 20 minutes I trust that all the things I worried about will return to my mind and I can write them down and execute.
My stress levels have decreased because I know that I can handle what comes my way. Everything is just a thought and if I’m having lots of anxious thoughts, I know how to interrupt them by counting my breaths.
My compassion for others has noticeably increased because my self-compassion has gone through the roof. If I can forgive myself for all the “mistakes” and wrong turns during meditation practice as I gently get myself back on track without regret or berating myself, I can do that for others.
So it does work.
Just not in the way I originally thought.
What might work for you in a way you weren’t expecting?
Is there something you’ve been meaning to try, but haven’t?
Take this as a sign to start something, be terrible at it and benefit just the same.
Might I suggest meditation and/or keeping a food log :)