Am I the only person on Earth who sucks at meditation?
Ever since I was a kid, I had this weird craving to shape my future experiences so they resembled movie scenes. This is a big reason why I was really looking forward to finally being able to drink red wine — I just couldn’t help but imagine myself cooking a delicious meal in a big, bright kitchen (necessarily with an island in it), sipping red wine from a large glass. Or chill after a full day of skiing/snowboarding in a French/Swiss chalet, sitting on a big white furry carpet in front of a cosy fire place. Or do other, much less publicly shareable things…
Now, back to reality.
When I first imagined myself meditating, I saw myself sitting crosslegged in an open field, basking in the sun with my eyes closed, breathing slowly and deeply, all blissful and calm. Considering the UK weather, this image was already quite unrealistic, but still I hoped that I’d feel at least a little bit blissful and calm.
Now, I’m not sure which of the movies could faithfully reflect the meditation ups and downs I’ve gone through last week, but I think that a movie character most closely embodying my meditation struggles is Bridget Jones — or a mix of Lena, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshana from Girls — and the narrator of my movie would definitely be Amy Schumer or someone equally sarcastic… John Oliver, maybe?
In any case, for an onlooker, watching me meditating would probably be like watching a standup comedy show. So here it goes:
Tuesday : May 1st.
I meditated in the morning, straight after waking up to ensure that I wouldn’t find an excuse not to do it. I fell asleep halfway through my 10-min meditation session and slept in, missing my morning fitness class and barely making it to work on time for a client call… I guess getting some extra sleep can never be bad for you…
Wednesday : May 2nd.
Having learned from my mistake the day before, I decided to meditate in the bus. I sat myself comfortably on one of the empty seats, put the meditation track on, closed my eyes and followed breathing instructions. I missed my bus stop by two stops, had to trot back to the tube stop, and barely made it to my fitness class. Well, at least I made it, right?!
Thursday : May 3rd.
Realising that morning meditation, combined with my new early morning exercise routine, might not be the most calming practice ever, I decided to try meditating in the evening. That went well — I managed to stay awake throughout the pracitce and my thoughts didn’t wander off too much, I thought.
Friday : May 4th.
Encouraged by my experience from the day before, I decided to meditate in the evening again; but I was tipsy after having some drinks with workmates and then another round with friends, I’d had a very stressful and tiring week, AND (!!!) I just got hit on by a girl in a bar but completely ignored by all the guys around, all of which stirred so many emotions that I did not want to be mindful of, that I just sat down on my bedroom floor, called my mum and wept frantically for about half-an-hour.
I’m sure this is what Buddhist monks meant by ‘being fully Zen’.
By now you surely must’ve guessed that I’m not the most graceful meditator in the world… But I’ll stick with it, because over the weekend I actually started to see a small difference in my approach. On Monday — the seventh day of the Mindful in May programme when we weren’t given a ‘compulsory’ meditation audio — I actually reached out for a free meditation app Insight Timer (cannot recommend it enough!) in search of something I could listen to to carry on the formation of my new habit.
And that, my Dear Friends, made all the difference, as it set a pattern of me consciously and willingly weaving meditation sessions into my daily schedule rather than mindlessly following a programme that was imposed on me (even if it was imposed by my very own self).
From that moment onward not much has changed in terms of the grace with which I’d go through my daily meditation practice — sometimes I fall asleep or wander off with my thoughts, sometimes I catch myself barely breathing or having difficulty breathing deeply, I lie across my bed in my pajamas, with one leg straightened, the other folded (good luck with trying to imagine that…) instead of sitting in a pristine padmasana (the lotus pose in yoga— yuppp, I’m showing off with my limited yoga knowledge here!).
But meditation has — imperceptibly — become a part of my day.
And instead of telling myself ‘I’m not reactive, I’m not reactive’ at moments when I simply want to scream and shout (and those of you who know me, surely know that I’m a hot-head), I remind myself a calming mantra I heard during my morning guided meditation, or tell myself to hang on until the evening meditation, when I’ll let all that emotion out in a more constructive manner.
So yeah… I suck at meditating and last year it made me give up on the Mindful in May programme halfway through, but this year I’m much more curious to see what will happen, if I carry on through to the end.
And to finish off on a positive note, I’d like to share my most impactful meditation yet — Rick Hanson’s Confidence Meditation, in which he clamed that confidence ultimately comes from a sense of being cared about. Below are 5 states to bring oneself into, to feel that you are being cared about:
- Become aware of times in your life — currently or in the past —when you were included; as part of a profession, community, hobby, friends’ group or family, or society. Become really aware of what it feels like to be included.
- Focus on the feeling of being seen — at those times, the person who sees you doesn’t have to agree with you entirely, but at least they’re trying, they’re empathetic, they recognise how you feel.
- Think of how it feel to be appreciated — think of times in the past or currently when you were respeced, when someone was grateful to you, complimented you, simply said ‘thanks’, or in any other way appreciated you.
- Become aware of times in your life when you’ve been liked. The ‘liking’ itself doesn’t have to be a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 ; It could simply be 2. Someone could simply be warm to you, like you at least a little bit. To quote Rick ‘Help yourself and let yourself feel liked’!
- Last but not least, become aware of the way in which you have been loved. The relationship that comes to mind, does not have to be perfect. The only thing that matters is that in one slice of that relationship the love for you was true. If other feelings come to mind as well, that’s fine, but allow yourself to feel that love.
Now, I know this might look very cheesy, hipster, wishy-washy… but believe me, if you only spend 5minutes tuning into the relevant feelings and memories from your present or past, it is bound to leave you feeling empowered, energised… and confident!