Just over a year ago, I started a personal meditation practice. It has been one of the hardest things for me to do. I always found a million reasons not to do it. If you're one of those people like me who seems to not have time, then most likely, you're exactly the person who needs to do meditation most. That's when I realized I had to be accountable. I had to show up. I had to be willing to just sit down. Sit with my thoughts, the incessant chatter in my head, my discomfort. I couldn't avoid it by simply watching another Netflix series, hanging out with friends, or filling my time with all my interests (even going to another yoga class). I had to face whatever I was running from straight in the face.
Many people may feel meditation is futile or a waste of time. There may be other ways you'd like to fill your time. The thing is, you have to be persistent and consistent with meditation, as you may not notice the enduring benefits, until much later. And I can assure you, benefits there are.
Meditation is in fact, an action. It requires mindful belly breathing, sitting upright with proper alignment, and remaining still, all of which require conscious effort. Walking is also a form of meditation and mindfulness. The most challenging aspect of all, is observing your thoughts run through your mind- the good, the bad, and the really ugly. The thoughts that repeat all the things you still have to get to, the past mistakes you've already made, the ones you might make, and the limiting views we hold for ourselves, ingrained in us from our early years of growing up; or even worse, those thoughts that keep showing up, because we let them. That is, until you become aware of them, and choose to let them pass you by. We hear it a million times over. They are just thoughts, and not our reality. So how do you control them? You don't. You watch them come in and then, through the stillness in meditation, the quietness, you can begin to acknowledge that they truly have no power over you as they are simply a passing thought. Do not attach to whatever thoughts you have, as it is through that attachment that you create your narrative, or whatever perceptions you might have regarding yourself and a situation. I don't mean one needs to become an eternal optimist, but rather try to see things just as they are, without using anything external, outside of yourself, to define who you are, determine your worthiness or dramatic stories that keep you stuck and victimized. Those stories where you let shame or guilt pervade. The stories you use to justify your anger, resentment, frustration, sadness or victimhood. That is disempowering and you don't want to linger there too long. Bitterness and worry is wasted energy.
As I embark on my meditation practice, I can tell you what I've noticed within me. Firstly, once you get into a routine of meditating at the same time and place, it is a good idea not to have too many expectations. Sometimes you'll start with 5 minutes, then gradually build on it. Do what you can only fit in. I have become patient with the idea that my practice does not have to be perfect all the time. Sometimes I am more restless than other times, but in the end, I am glad I tried. Every minute spent meditating, counts towards finding some sense of calm throughout my day. Secondly, I try to respond very differently to situations I can't control. That is something I am still working on. I try to respond with patience, compassion and non-judgement, which is not always easy because I'm stubborn. My unrelenting, throbbing Achille's heel. At least, I'm aware of it and meditation is teaching me to be mindful, understanding and less reactive, even when I want to be right and justified. It takes hard work but every experience brings me one step closer.
The benefits of meditation are countless, but you will only begin to buy into it when you finally do it. A little patience, can definitely go a long way. Here is a list of my top favourite Meditation Apps and Podcasts to listen to whether you're travelling or simply home-bound wishing you could travel and in dire need for stillness.
1. Insight Timer: Free with over 20,000 meditations (podcasts included) to listen and choose from. The coolest feature is that you can see all the other people in the world that are meditating at the same time as you in the world! It's a few years old now, but if you don't have it, please get on with it!
2. What on Earth is Going on? This podcast was created by my University friend named Ben Charland. He talks about absolutely everything! I just think more people should listen to it. Simple as that.
3. Love with Integrity: Psychologist Silvy Khoucasian talks about relationships, attachment theories, and boundaries. I always love what she has to say. Thank you Sily.
4. 10% Happier: This meditation app is also free and is super accessible to everyone.
5. Connected with Emily Beatrix: Inspiring and poignant conversations that cover a number of topics.