I’m no expert on meditation.
I don’t think that meditation is always a positive or enlightening experience. I do, however, want to share my experience with meditating for the first time. This is a personal story to share, and I ask for your love and kindness.
I have a lot of anxiety. This is not something easy to admit. I worry and I worry a lot. Sometimes it’s really hard for me and I get scared, panicked and often wish I didn’t obsess about things the way I do.
I focus too much on the “what ifs” and the future.
I don’t really like writing this down either. I don’t like admitting that I go through this. I’ve spent days, weeks, and precious moments focusing on the panic of having unwanted thoughts and worries. It’s not pleasant and I become judgemental.
I’m not always like this. Just sometimes. But when it strikes, the worry, the anxious fluttery feeling of everything bypassing me and all I can do is think of what is eating away at me even though I’m rationally able to tell myself everything is okay.
I tell myself that I’m okay, that I have all of these things to be grateful for and to show compassion to myself, but I still have a pit in my stomach. All I want it to do is pass.
Last week I had a wonderful moment while meditating. Yes, I said meditating. A bundle of nerves like me actually meditates. I used to think it wasn’t for me, that I wouldn’t do it right.
I used to think that I wouldn’t have any idea what to think about, or, that I would worry the crap out of those 15 minutes to the point where I would have to get up and screw the whole calm, Buddhist, Zen-like mentality I’m supposed to be channelling.
But, my partner kept saying I should try meditating. My partner is a Buddhist and meditation is a part of his living practices.
All I thought was, “I’m intense, I don’t do meditation.” Well, last Thursday I came home and was alone. I dread the anxiety-ridden moments in my life when I’m alone. I had that nervous feeling and I needed to placate it. So I took my partner’s meditation cushion and crossed my legs. I played Jack Johnson on my iPhone (real classy I know) and I couldn’t find the damn lighter for the incense, so that wasn’t happening.
I amused myself. Who was I trying to be? But I ignored any judgement and reminded myself of the autumn light coming through the window. Our cat lovingly climbed into my lap purring with delight. I didn’t feel too bad, and I wasn’t sure what would happen next.
So, I set a timer: 15 minutes. I didn’t think I’d make it that far. The first minute (I think?) I fidgeted. I recently read an article in some Yoga magazine that there are different techniques to meditating: focusing on breathing, on an image, on a mantra.
I felt a little overwhelmed…what do I focus on? More worry, a few nerves shooting off.
I decided to start out with my breathing. There was some serious tension. I had things to let go of, things that were eating away at me, bothering me, taking me away from living in the moment. Okay, I didn’t like the “focus on the breath method” and I just wanted my breathing to flow naturally. I didn’t like paying attention to it that much.
‘How much time has passed? Damn it, I’m thinking about things. Wait, am I not supposed to just acknowledge it and move on? I obsess a lot and a thought kept recurring. How much time has passed? Am I concentrating enough?’
A rough first few minutes and getting closer to calling it quits. But then I remembered what someone very dear told me the other day when she meditates. She said that she envisions herself going out on a lake in a canoe with literally a ton of baggage. She dumps it into the water, watches it float away. I like canoes, I like lakes, and I would love to unload some metaphorical baggage.
I settled into my canoe. I love canoeing. I love the sound of the paddles hitting the water on a fall morning. I know the lake I’m at, it’s circular, I canoed here three years ago at 9 am one day. Immediately I zone in on rowing the canoe. I feel good, and I canoe to the centre of the lake. I step out of myself and start dumping off big boxes that say names of all the things I worry about. I just keep dumping them.
They reappear and I dump. The canoe is empty. I paddle towards the shore. My aunt, she passed away a few years ago, was waiting for me there. I have a vivid imagination. I notice the cat leave my lap, but I let it go and go back to my canoe. I tied it to a tree and go off-shore to speak with her. She told me everything is okay and I’m okay. That she’s there and I have compassion.
Compassion. I have compassion.
I need to remember this. I get back into my canoe. I hear the paddle and the water again and focus in on it. I try to go to the centre of the lake but for some reason my canoe keeps me along the shore. Why can’t I go in the centre? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. A rose glow lights within me, within my mind. No more canoe, nor more images, such words that fill my head, all positive:
Love :: Life :: Serenity :: Hope :: Happiness :: Sympathy :: Compassion :: Tranquillity :: Calm.
While the list kept going, my spine began to elongate without any effort on my part. My heart space started to open up, my crown heading towards the sky. I extended myself and my body relaxed in this awakening and loving space. Then, with no warning, no movement, Jack Johnson stopped playing and the alarm went off. 15 minutes. I couldn’t believe it, and bowed my head graciously.
I went on a journey for 15 minutes that ended in love, gratitude and I thanked the universe for this special moment. I let go. I offered myself. I loved and felt love. I meditated.
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Assist Ed: Renée Picard
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July’s Full Moon in Capricorn: The Heart wants what it Wants. The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. How to Love a Woman who Scares You. Our Soulmates are Rarely Who We Expect. I Still Think of You. Men, Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Size Matters. To the One Who Tried to Break Me. An Open Letter to the Fixers. How your Stored Memories in the Amygdala can lead to PTSD. How My Sister’s Death Transformed my Self-Perception.