Years ago when I started to work with my first coach, Annie, I was the mother of three very busy young boys. My house felt wildly chaotic and I did not feel a sense of my own space, time or peace. Right from the get-go, Annie strongly recommended the cultivation of a meditation practice.
‘‘No way, I am not someone who can meditate”, I told her firmly. “I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me. I can never get my brain to quiet down. I get way too restless and as I sit there trying to focus on my breathing I end up feeling like I actually can’t breathe. And, my brain is so busy and so loud I feel like I am going insane.”
The irony of my resistance was exactly the reason I needed to meditate. I needed to learn to nurture a quiet centre. I needed to learn how to be with my busy brain. I needed a calm in the storm.
Well, needless to say, Annie kept at me like a dog with a bone and I eventually acquiesced, somewhat reluctantly. I think one of my major stumbling blocks in the beginning was the conception that I didn’t know ‘how’ to meditate. I didn’t know what to wear, what to do, what to burn, how to sit, how to start, how to finish. I did not know how to meditate.
My solution to this meditation quandary was to buy books, watch videos and to download MP3s. I looked everywhere outside of my own wisdom for the right answer. Once I exhausted all the available resources and I was no closer to the ‘right’ way to meditate I finally decided to just start doing it.
So, on that first morning I set my alarm for 5:00am (so I was sure to be up before the first kid), went down to my dark living room, and tried my best to relax in a comfortable chair. That first thirty minute session felt like it lasted for hours and I was plagued with doubts; was I sitting right? Was I ruining it if I kept checking my watch? Was I supposed to push all thought away? Was I supposed to let all thought in?
That first morning was anything but relaxing and, frankly, fairly torturous. With Annie’s encouragement, however, I stayed with it and once I let go of all the rules, guidelines, structures and dogma around meditating I did carve out a wonderful meditation practice. The method I finally landed on was simply allowing myself 30 (or so) minutes of stillness and quiet every morning.
The next plateau on my meditation journey was to learn how to meditate when I was not alone in the quiet stillness of the early morning. Again, Annie challenged me to develop my practice so that I could access the calm and quiet centre even in the midst of my chaotic household. Now that was a tall order!
I have been on this meditating journey for almost 8 years and I am still learning. I no longer need to set the alarm and get up at the crack of dawn to carve out time to meditate. I practice meditation just about everywhere I go; on the GoTrain, in a movie theatre waiting for the movie to start, driving the car, in the shower, in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep, standing in line at the grocery store and when I am writing my blog posts. I use every opportunity I have to drop into the inner calm of my meditative state and re-emerge feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
And when people ask me what kind of meditation I do, I tell them that I have a ‘living meditation practice’. I have no idea if that is even a real thing but it doesn’t matter because I know what it means.
And the bonus? No incense required!