You know, the one thing that has helped me the most during that last year while I tried to change habits that are decades old, has been meditation. Mindfulness meditation to be precise. It’s not that I’m all meditative and mindful, more like starting out at minus ten and being thrilled to arrive at maybe zero.
I have always lived in my head. Daydreaming, thinking, scheming, planning, anticipating, you know what I mean. I even trained myself never to be in the moment. The moments felt boring and unpromising. I liked to live in the land of fairy. In my head. Going to university hasn’t helped with that. There you’re living in your head again. Only in another way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against thinking, planning and daydreaming, but it’s really a good thing to live the live your already living and to “be where you already are” to quote Jon Kabat-Zinn. And mindfulness is an invaluable tool for really seeing your life which is important if you’re not content with it.
So how did someone like me, nervous, ever-talking and in her mind, start to meditate? First I may say that meditation and yoga appealed to me for the first time when I was about eleven. I read about India and was intrigued. And then for ages I have been thinking that maybe it would be a good thing to meditate, only I could never have sit still for that long. I waited for some magical transformation happening to me so that I would become a person capable of doing things like meditation.
I have been waiting for magical transformation in many areas of my life and my personality. A few years ago I realized that they probably never will happen. So I had the choice of burying all my big dreams (a choice, many mothers make), or to take a path leading towards those dreams regardless of circumstances. I chose the latter.
So when I read “Ben and Birdy” and was pointed towards “Everyday Blessings”, then searched for it as an ebook and could only find “Coming to our senses”, I bought it and took it with me while visiting my parents. Then I decided to start meditating. I bought a set of meditation CDs, not trusting myself to try it on my own. I made a commitment to meditate every day. Later I purchased another set of CDs, because there was the promise of a guided meditation taking only 10 minutes. Ten minutes seems like a time frame that I can spend every day.
So now I have been sitting almost ever day for at least ten minutes. In an effort to feel more meditative and authentic, I had asked my husband to give me a meditation cushion for Christmas. But until then I sat on a chair.
Following my new principle of “You don’t have to do it right, you just have to do it any way you can” I have been sitting after breakfast and household chores, on my chair (or cushion). With a locked door. Sometimes with a preschooler rattling the doorknob and wailing, often with loud rock music playing in the next room. I often thought that I’m not doing it the right way and that I should stop it. Lately I changed my routine and now I’m meditating before everybody else is awake. But I’m still trying every day. One day it’s lousy and I find myself thinking about blog entries or finances or whatever, often the bell at the end rings and I feel like I’ve wasted my time, but deep down inside I know that even that period of sitting with my thoughts is way better for me than all that mindless doing that’s so prevalent in our days.
Some days it’s bliss. My mind going blank for microseconds at a time. Feeling elated afterwards. When I told a friend about it, she asked, “And what are you getting out of it?” And I went “What? Should there be a goal to it?” Of course I started it in the hope of becoming more calm, more centered, more patient, and more content. But I’m continuing because it’s like taking a time-out, like stepping back, feel myself and just be. That can be very liberating. sometimes it’s strenuous, often I fail, but very rarely I feel like I’m connecting with the universe as a whole. And then it’s worth it.
And I’m very sure that this is why I’m making progress in my life in the moment. Being mindful, being in silence and stepping back from my life are really helpful in changing unconscious habits. But when people are asking, “What have you done to lose so much weight?”, I’m still too timid to say, “I slept enough and started meditating.”
But, like making music, you have to do it for its own sake. It doesn’ t work like a “Start meditating and lose weight immediately”-craze. Just try sitting quiet for a short time every day. Try to concentrate on being, on breathing, on your body. Stop chasing thoughts and feelings. You do have the time. No problem, take ten minutes off your TV habit.