Between the ages of 7 and 12, I went to a school which turned out to be somewhat cultish, where every lesson began with meditation and chanting. For years after I left I didn’t meditate, to me it was just another school subject on my boredom list, like times-tables with with your eyes shut.
But when I was 19, I got ill, having been happy and fit and young, I suddenly couldn’t keep up with my peers, couldn’t get drunk and take drugs and share their trips. I found life generally an uncomfortable and hostile place to be.
And that’s when I really started to meditate. It won’t be news to any of you that meditation is a good thing, it’s so talked about that some newspapers have already been there, done that, moved on – I read somewhere “Meditation is so last year, breathing is what’s hot right now”.
How many of you meditate? There’s probably as many types of meditation as there are people who do it, and the numbers keep rising. All I know is that, for me, it works, it fixes problems in my body and mind and when they’re fixed, I tend to take the credit for myself, down a pint of mixed salty-sweet popcorn and break-up with meditation, “It’s not you, it’s me!” I say as I leave the film half way through and head out into the night.
And then, soon enough, I start to feel less and less healthy and able to cope, out in the cold. After nearly 20 years of falling in and out of love with meditation, what I do know is that I’m always at my best when I take a moment, at the beginning and end of every day and, ideally, before and after every meeting or task.
Finding quiet spaces in unlikely places
Sometimes, if I’m out and about, I go into the loo (toilet), put down the seat, relax, feel my feet on the ground and my head gently balanced, like I’m being pulled up on puppet-strings. With this feeling of being held, I thank life for what it’s given me and will give me, whatever that is, and all the people and things in it, whoever they are, before letting my mind go blank.
It’s then that I see if I can just go analogue, pure sweet, thought-free analogue for 5 seconds or 5 minutes, sometimes I might provide some white noise via a mantra or two, however long it takes to feel that gratitude and stillness again.
I’ve experimented with all sorts of meditation – starting with the Indian type, based on Sanskrit mantras, moved on to colour therapy and what’s called autogenic training, a form of self-hypnosis – in short, I’ve dabbled, dabbled in all sorts.
I don’t have a go-to type, it depends on what my mood is and what I need to get from the meditation. I’d argue that there isn’t a Mr or Mrs Right for meditators, everyone can find some kind of match in one or two or many. Whatever works for you.
Ingredients of a successful relationship
When I say ‘work’, I don’t mean happily ever after, but I do mean, over time, meditation can make your world generally OK, whatever challenges you and your meditating you, face together.
If everything is hunky dory already, then maybe you won’t see the point, or you’ll struggle to start meditation/struggle to keep it going, as I do; but I’d like to take this opportunity to remind myself and you that it’s best not to break up with meditation for these two reasons:
- Habits are hard to make and easy to brake. There’re ALWAYS great times to be had in your meditating head, however happy your not-meditating head is.
- The more you do it, the better it is – When you’re down or sick or those around you are, there’s no-one better equipped to help you than your calm, meditating self – and that meditating self will get stronger and stronger the more you meditate.
If you’d like to speak to me about meditation I’d love to hear you thoughts in the comments. Also, if you’re struggling with illness, I’d also be happy to share my experience of therapeutic meditation.
Many thanks everyone for your undivided attention!!
If you have 5 more mins
Try this simple autogenic exercise that’s been my dear friend these past 15 years:
Find out more about meditation:
- The Autogenic Society – for psychosomatic meditation
- The Meditation Trust – for mantras and more
- Shambhala – a wide variety of events and lectures
- NHS Mindfulness – at home and at work in the UK
[Image source: Koncrete Pigs Webcomic]