I want you to try for a minute, to not think about the purple people eater. Take your time. Impossible, yeah? Since becoming a carer, I’ve been told countless times, ‘look after yourself’, ‘find ways to relax’ and, ‘why not give meditation a go?’ Like most people, I’ve tried meditation loads of times.
Somehow, I always felt more stressed afterward. I would give up, feeling like a total failure.
Then, a few months ago, when I saw my doctor, she asked me to find an activity that actively fights stress. ‘Like meditation,’ she said. Now, I love the whole idea of meditation. But her suggestion made me sigh. And freak out. I want to meditate, but I’ve always felt as though I couldn’t.
I mean, the idea of switching my mind off is lovely, but by golly, it’s not that easy. I’ve been trying on and off to meditate for at least two decades or more. I’ve tried doing self-guided meditation, and recorded ones. It’s never mattered how hard I tried, there’s always been this relentless, ‘yap, yap, yap’ in my head. In fact, the harder I tried, the worse it got.
I tried again a month or so ago, really wanting to benefit from all the goodness I believe meditation can bring. I grabbed a few meditation apps for the iPad and just tried not to be so hard on myself. I ended up realising something. No matter how chatty Kathy my mind is, I always have much more relaxed muscles after a meditation session. Physically, I do feel more relaxed. Yet, all these years, I’ve been so focused on how I’m doing with my thoughts, I haven’t had any appreciation for my lowered heart rate and the fact that sometimes it makes me fall asleep.
All this time, I’ve been blind to the concept that meditation is simply meant to relax you. Nah, can’t be. Too obvious.
So now, I’ve made peace with the idea that thoughts will enter my mind during a session, and that’s fine. I calmly scratch my arm if I need to, and if I need to fart, I no longer contort myself for half an hour, trying to hold it in. If I’m supposed to let my thoughts go, well….yeah.
Whenever I’ve had a massage, I’ve never once been conscious of my thoughts. Yet, I always have walked away fresher, more relaxed. There’s no pressure, because massage is something that someone else does to me. So now, when I listen to a recording, I tell myself that the recording is ‘doing’ something to me. I just listen now, do what it says, and it works. When I get a massage, I’m not lying there, wondering if I’m putting enough effort in, or doing it right. I just let the relaxation take over me. Why has it never occurred to me to allow a meditation do the same? Why don’t we ever just lay back for a meditation and enjoy the calm feeling taking over us?
It’s because we’re far too critical of ourselves. We’re control freaks. Meditation is such an intimate thing, because it’s one of those rare occassions you’re asked to look into your own mind. When we don’t think this way in day to day life, it’s easy to feel as though we fall short.
I don’t feel like a failure at meditation anymore. Now, I feel as though I can simply accept all the good things meditation has to offer. The health benefits, both physically and mentally. No longer am I questioning whether or not I’m giving it my best shot, I’m just taking from the experience. When I’m stressed (especially as a carer), it’s usually from spending time working, giving of an effort. Any relaxing activity should be something received. It shouldn’t be work.
All my adult life (and the later part of my teen years) I’ve so desperately wanted to get this. I’ve craved being able to meditate and unwind. Now I can. Simply by giving up trying, and letting myself become a taker.
I hope if you’re reading this, and you’re stressed, or just want to conquer meditation, you give it one more go. I hope you take it like a lazy bugger, and make no effort whatsoever. Let this be done to you. Then, I hope you become addicted as I have, at last.