Reluctant Enlightenment

Meditation

I have always been resistant to meditation. One reason for this is the overarching insistence that it is the ultimate modern panacea. Being goaded into breathing exercises and beach visualisation at conferences, training days and team meetings is enough to put one off the practice. I’m sorry but instant coffee and trans-fatty packaged pastries are not a good precursor to deep contemplation. Then there’s all the images of dawn-lit white people blissed out on vitamin enemas and air selling all brands of snake oil. Personal enlightenment has been so co-opted by corporate interest that it has a taint to it.
Another reason for my resistance is that I have never meditated successfully. Not that I’m really sure what successful meditation is – although I’m pretty sure I should emerge from practice dressed in white linen and kissed by the sun. Every time I try to meditate I just end up deeply contemplating what I should eat when I’m finished. Or agonising over what I just ate (I’m looking at you Costco muffin and Nescafe).
Still, there’s a part of me that believes a little of the hype. I’ve reached near meditative states while walking out in nature or getting into creative projects and the result has been a sustaining sense of well-being. Developing the ability to bring my mind to a calmed state without utilising pharmaceuticals or other drugs is extremely attractive to me, especially as my ageing body can no longer endure an endless hangover.
So I decided that it couldn’t hurt to at least try to develop my meditative skills. The challenge? Engage in ten minutes of meditation a day. Not exactly marathon sessions I know, but short enough that I can convince myself to do it, if for no other reason than ticking the box. Ten minutes seems to be the starting point for most people, apps like Headspace all go in ten minute increments. I wasn’t really keen to spend money on subscribing to apps though. Psychologically, as soon as I’ve spent the money I seem to think my work on that particular project is over and often I end up paying money for absolutely nothing out of shame, laziness or a draconian cancellation policy (see gym memberships, yoga class passes, weight loss programs, self-help books). So YouTube would have to suffice (I was not ready to venture into the wilderness of my own mind without a guide quite yet).
I’ve been doing (near) daily practice for a month now. It’s not a cure-all and I still think about food a lot. But things are shifting. It’s slow and almost imperceptible. And yet every time I practice I get just a little bit farther away from contemplating breakfast and a little bit closer to something that is completely new and unfamiliar to me. I can’t quite put it into words which is unsurprising because the whole experience involves divorcing oneself from words and the thoughts they describe. My feeble attempts at meditation thus far have shown me that I might be able to access a sense of calm that I really thought only existed in a bottle. It’s only a flicker of it now and then, but the sheer possibility of getting there is enough to keep me attempting it. Bring on the sunrise, I’m linen-clad and waiting for my awakening!

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