April 23, 2014

When Meditation is Not Enough.

gabriela meditation

So there I was, lying in shavasana for the fourth time that day.

I was letting go of my body and letting go of my mind. And, just like the other three times that day, it was going well.

In fact, my mind was blank.

This fourth time, I stayed for a half hour. I was convinced that, if I stayed in it longer, I might just release the anxiety that had been plaguing me on and off for the past week.

I embraced my blank, beautiful mind. I thanked myself for practicing.

I got up.

Thirty minutes later, I’m coming out of the shower and my mind’s in a frenzy again. It’s trying to organize tomorrow’s schedule into perfect segments, finding asymmetry in the bathroom tiles, and hyper-focusing on stray hairs on the floor.

I sighed desperately.

Why? Why is this happening? Why isn’t meditation working?

I was confused. I had become quite used to being friends with my mind. Of course, it goes astray just like everyone else’s, but I had formed a loving relationship with it where I could tell it to take a break when it was overloaded. And now, it had all come apart.

Not knowing what else to do, I resigned myself to allowing my mind to do what it must. I tried my best to not resist the waves of mental overactivity, nor to allow them to interrupt my day. I continued to work out and meditate daily, to take moments of gratitude, and to speak to myself lovingly.

The anxiety persevered.

Slowly but surely, it invaded my daily routines. It would creep up in the few seconds right after I’d hang up with a client. It would rear in its head after I finished washing the dishes. It would come first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.

It never came during meditation. It only came in those moments when I was briefly unoccupied.

I had no clue what was going on, but I kept myself open to the answer. I kept asking, even though I wasn’t receiving any replies.

A few days later, I found myself quite unoccupied on the train. The feeling of anxiety came, except this time, it led to a sharp image of my notebook in my bag. I followed the hunch.

About 10 minutes later, I was pouring myself onto paper, feeling my inner core lighting on fire.

After I got off the train, my mind was more than clear. All of the colours were turned up brighter and people’s eyes were friendlier. It was like my mind was thanking me, praising me, reinforcing me. And suddenly, I understood. My anxiety was not something meditation could fix.

For over a month, I had left creativity on the shelf. I’ve been a writer all my life, but I wasn’t honouring that. All the writing I was doing was very technical. I was writing emails, pitches, and query letters, but no feelings or insights. I was watching my clients unleash their loving, creative energy, while sidestepping my own.

My mind didn’t need meditation. It needed stimulation.

And not just any kind. I had, after all, been reading and watching talks. No, my mind needed something specific. It needed creativity. My mind was bothering me because it was bored.

On the other side of this realization, I find myself, once again, in a beginner’s mindset when it comes to self-discovery.

Like Albert Einstein said, “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

Once we master one thing, something else will turn into an opportunity for growth. Once we master that, it will be another thing.

This has been a sobering and funny reminder that the search within myself and the journey to understanding is never over. I had almost forgotten to laugh and to accept that, even if I know how to quiet my mind, I still know nothing.

So this article is coming to me in a writing frenzy, one that will last as long as it lasts, before I need something else. And when that call for change comes, I’ll be open. When this, too, passes, I’ll be ready.

What I’ve allowed myself to remember through this experience is this—the most important gift I can ever give to myself and to the world is the willingness to understand. That is my only responsibility. And in this beautiful, chaotic, hilarious existence where nothing stays the same—that is, and always will be, enough.


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Apprentice Editor: Ola Weber / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Gabriela Kulaif

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