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