Fifteen days ago, I joined a 30-day online meditation course.
The advertisement for the course boasted to change my life and, although I’m usually skeptical when facing such obviously impossible promises, I felt compelled to give it a try.
The fact is: I have been wishing to change my life for the last couple of years. The process of change being an irritatingly slow one for me, I decided to speed up the process via this meditation course that finally promised results!
I have been flirting with meditation for years, but never succeeded in incorporating it into my daily routine. Even when I’d get a nice rhythm going for about five days straight, there would invariably come an impossibly busy day (you know the one I am talking about—when you cannot take 10 minutes out to sit down quietly) and then the cycle would get broken and I’d lose the thread.
The very first day of the meditation course presented me with the usual challenge. As luck would have it, the timing was horrible: this was precisely one of those terribly busy, overscheduled days and my sneaky mind tried to convince me that perhaps I could skip this one.
After a lively debate with my mind, I had to raise my voice and put my foot down: I’d made a commitment and paid good money for this course, specifically to keep me committed. I won! I did squeeze the additional 10 minutes into my 24-hour day and sat down “with myself,” as per the course’s instructions.
The second day was even worse! The schedule was even tighter. I could see my mind rolling its eyes at me, complaining about what I’d gotten us into. In order to fit the meditation into that day, I would have to wake up 15 minutes earlier than my scheduled 6 a.m. alarm.
But I did. And I sat.
My mind was racing with the anticipation of scheduled events, so it was not a particularly calming session—but that doesn’t matter. I was glad I “showed up” and honored my commitment, and made a mental note that this was the only commitment I’d actually stuck to for a long time.
That realization changed everything.
Suddenly, this did not feel like a chore!
It became clear that the reason I could not commit to meditating before was because I had always treated it as yet another obligation in my life—when there were already too many. I also understood what it meant to “show up for myself.” Meditating became the act of carving out a space for me in my busy life—when I’d always put the needs of other people before mine.
As that mind-frame has changed, I’ve now found a certain pleasure in sitting quietly with myself, daily. Facing myself, listening, identifying triggers, sources of sadness, of joy, of stress, of peace.
In the past, meditating felt like sitting down to “do nothing.” Naturally, I never had time for that.
Now, meditating feels like time for nurturing myself, for giving myself needed attention and care, and even—dare I say—for loving myself! It’s finally dawned on me that I am as important as all the other people whom I love and care for.
Midway through my 30-day commitment to myself, I am pondering the ways we choose to fill our days. And why did a 10-minute daily meditation always feel like a waste of time?
Our lives are so busy—filled with events, possessions, people. Do we really need all the stuff we kill ourselves for, or are they just distractions, keeping us away from ourselves, keeping us too busy to ponder whether our life still corresponds to our dreams?
As I carve the space out for myself on a daily basis, I notice that our daily activities, just as our possessions, become our comfort blankets. We start identifying ourselves by the degree of our busyness, by material things, diplomas, titles, rewards, compliments, promotions, invitations, vacations, addresses. They become our masks and since we never make time to come “home” and take those off, we start believing those are our nature. So when one of these definitions changes—be it our job, our partner or simply our age group, our worlds get shattered because we are no longer able to define ourselves in those same habitual ways. We feel lost and depressed because part of ourselves has changed, and it feels as if the change happened to us by force.
My daily sessions are now up to 20 minutes. I go into my private safe space naked, stripped of all artifice, masks and attributes. No matter who comes in or out of my life, whether someone compliments me or criticizes me, whether I get a professional break or my project is derailed, whether my hair starts turning gray or my children become independent, that person who greets me within is still there, still the same at the core.
I resisted getting to know her. Now that I have, I am starting to like her!
I think this is the big shift for me, the one that may just change my life.
Author: Galina Singer
Editor: Catherine Monkman