Meditation is certainly the most difficult spiritual practice I have applied myself to. I didn’t come to it until I started doing yoga as a physical discipline more regularly in 2012. I loved the Friday night meditation classes at my local studio in St Albans. Sometimes these meditations were more like visualisations, sometimes they focused on a mantra. However Vipassana style meditation where we focus on the breathing and allow the mind to rest was very difficult for me and I started it cold, as it were when recommended to ‘sit quietly focusing on the breath’ by my Osteopath. So I began sitting 5-10 minutes a day using a timer I downloaded onto my phone. Occasionally I would visit the Thai Buddhist temple, Amaravati to sit for longer periods of time.
I have always been a very analytical person, working things out in my mind exhaustively, worrying, questioning, trying to work out the past and control the future by planning for any eventuality. This can be described as living in the mind and not in the present moment. It is a very stressful way of functioning both for the overworked mind and the body, which can manifest this stress as fatigue and a wide range of physical ailments. Following my yoga teacher training I had the pleasure of being a guinea pig for a friend who was studying as a meditation teacher. This was great, we were introduced to a range of different techniques and focal points whilst being encouraged to practice every day. It wasn’t until I enrolled on an online course with a teacher called Burgs that I started to realize this practice as a part of my way of life from which I would never go back.
The struggle is real. When I am emotionally charged, tired, anxious about tasks to complete, worried about taking time to myself; sitting is extremely difficult, not to mention the pain I experience in my body all the time, not just when sitting for meditation. However, with persistent practice I slowly began to be aware of a sense of mindfulness creeping into the way I approached situations day to day. Meditation helps me to go deeper into aspects of myself that may need attention. It also helps me to create space around what would otherwise seem like a world full of rushing and demands. I hope eventually to slow down the entire pace of my perception to that of mindfulness so that the crowdedness recedes completely. However, I do not expect this to happen overnight. I have in the past followed systems that promise a ‘fast track’ to the ultimate state of meditation, but have grown to realize that I am not a fast track kind of gal. I like things to be done thoroughly and completely, no stone unturned.
At the end of September I will be attending a seven-day silent meditation retreat in Wales with Burgs and I can’t tell you how eager I am to do this healing work. Even if I wrestle with the activity of my mind for seven days, I know good things will come of it. Meditation helps me to separate what is important from what is just noise. Couldn’t we all use a little of that?