A few weeks ago now (nearly a month) a trusted advisor told me, in no uncertain terms, that I need to learn to meditate. Now.
I've been told before that meditation would do me a world of good, and I've always theoretically believed this to be true. I say theoretically because, to be totally honest, I spent many years believing that meditation -- namely the idea of calming your mind (or heaven forbid ridding it of all thought entirely) -- was actually about one breath away from death. Sound dramatic? Perhaps it is, and I never really rationally held this thought, but as an over-achieving, driven and cerebral person, the idea of clearing my mind of thoughts seemed like the antithesis of what I generally strive for day in and day out. Of course, those of you who understand meditation understand that that is kind of the point (and I'm slowly coming around to that realization now myself), but the point was lost on me for the better part of three decades.
The push towards meditation that I got this time really seemed to resonate with me. The woman who was encouraging me to give it a whirl probably wasn't expecting me to laugh in her face and respond with flippant "whatever" that carried all the underlying stress that life brings and my stubborn belief that there's not much that can be done to change that. She responded, very patiently, by reminding me that meditation is truly a practice. You're not supposed to get it right from the start. I guess that was the second part that always turned me off of meditation: the idea that you have to practice sitting and breathing. Seriously? I'm generally a person who strives to do most things that I do really well. The idea that I would need to practice sitting and breathing kind of struck me as a bit embarrassing to be honest.
Still, this woman's response stuck with me. And after mulling it over for 48 hours I decided I would give it a whirl. Afterall, I really had little to lose in the proposition. And so, I committed to myself to sit for 10 minutes (I set a kitchen timer) every morning right after I get up. Just 10 minutes. My rationale? It can't really hurt, and to sound all Oprah-you-go-girl-ish: I kind of owe this to myself. After a week, during which most days 10 minutes was fairly easy but a few were littered with me checking the timer slyly (so that no one would know I was cheating?) out of the corner of my eye every 45 seconds, I felt like maybe this was a possible option for me after all. It's been hard. Hard on mornings when I've worked late the night before and I feel like I need to get into work to get back at it as soon as possible. Hard on mornings when I'd rather stay in bed just a little bit longer. But, each time I tell myself "it's just 10 minutes."
The second week was a bit strange. I don't know if this is normal, but during the second week I was a crabby MOFO. I felt like this exercise of sitting and calming myself every morning was actually unearthing all kinds of anger and frustration that wanted to take over. And for that week, they kind of did. The next week, things were a bit easier again. And, after three weeks of meditating on a cushion grabbed off the couch I decided to invest in a meditation cushion of my very own (the very lovely zafu pictured here which is from Half Moon Yoga here in Vancouver. I have nasty tight hamstrings so the cushion makes it much more comfortable to sit.
This last week of meditating I've actually been really enjoying it thoroughly. As Spring comes to the West Coast some mornings during the mere 10 minutes that I sit, I'll close my eyes to the view of a last sliver of moon on the horizon and open them to the red of the sunset and chirp of the first birds. This morning, a Saturday so I was up a bit later, I sat with the sun streaming in and warming my face.
I'm very tempted to do research online, to buy books on meditation and to try to "get better" at this as quickly as possible. But I'm holding myself back. For the time being I'm just going to stick with the sitting. The sitting and breathing and trying to clear my mind (never really succeeding for more than a few breaths). For now, that seems like enough.