And how consistent meditation practice can improve your life
Meditation has guided me since I was 14 years old. My Mum introduced me with a weekend course and the practice has woven through my life as one of my greatest influencers, my most consistent practices, my most fulfilling experiences.
At the time I didn’t realise the gift my mother shared. In fact I distinctly remember sitting in on the weekend wishing I was with my friends, wondering what I was missing out on ‘out there’ and cursing my mum for dragging me along to this course that was filled with dreary middle aged women.
I’ve gravitated towards mindful practices ever since that weekend. It was a stepping stone to who I am today, an experience that opened my mind to the power we all have at our fingertips to self regulate, self calm and go within. To where everything we need is right where we are, wherever we go, whenever we call on it, whatever the situation.
I’m not sure who I would be without meditation but I recognise as I observe this World we are living in, that without it there are extreme levels of anxiety and stress, depression and dependency. That the insecurity of our society, our fragility and our fractions are now an integral part of every workplace, every social gathering and many conversations. With tension being the new norm and attention to just being long forgotten.
The mention of meditation exposes a vulnerability that people often try to hide. People come up with all sorts of excuses – it’s too hard, I don’t have time, I don’t know how – the same old justification we use for everything. But my favourite evasion when I suggest meditation to a friend or client who would benefit from the practice is “I tried it once but it didn’t work”.
It’s like saying “I did exercise once but it didn’t make me stronger”; “I ate healthy one day but I’m still fat”. “I ran to the train station once but I’m not any faster.” You see, meditation is many things. It is exercise for the mind; it is food for the brain; it is regulator of the body; it is our path to higher consciousness.
But meditation is not a magic pill.
At first, taking time out to ‘do nothing’ can seem foreign, an intrusion into our busy lives. But if we look back just a generation ago we will realise that one of the biggest illusions we have of our health is not that we have stopped going to the gym, quit running or skipped breakfast. People are spending more time on gyms, health clubs and eating out than ever before.
The missing link is that we have forfeited time out for screen time, for extra work, for more tasks, for being onconstantly and never switching off until we fall into bed, exhausted with our smart watch attached to us to monitor whether or not we are actually sleeping!
I grew up sitting on the rocks at the beach – in situ – dog by my side, waves lapping at my feet, moments becoming hours but seeming only minutes in contemplation. It was natural to sit and reflect, to daydream for long periods of time. Gurdjieff, one of the greatest mystics of the 20th Century calls this recapitulation, remembering ones self, awareness of everything and nothing at once.
Time will not bring us back to that moment because the World we live in now has transformed – so rapidly, with such great impetus that we have to schedule in ‘doing nothing’ and call it meditation. We have to set an alarm on our devices to remind us to put them away in case we wake up with them in our hand before we even realise we have dozed off to sleep.
Was I meditating as I sat at the beach? – some would agree that I was. Point given, we no longer allow ourselves time to do just that. To sit and contemplate, to soak up our surroundings and be as one, to focus on nothing yet everything all at once, to be aware without being on edge, to be relaxed without falling asleep, to monitor the patterns of our own thoughts naturally without coercion.
Meditation can be practiced by anyone, for any amount of time, in many different ways. Meditation when practiced regularly can improve our mood, help us sleep, heal our aches and pains and expand our consciousness to better connect with those around us. It is the practice of the intuitive intellect and is a reflection of our relationship with the World, a mirror into our soul, a universal language of cultures and religions from the beginning of time.
Meditation takes time to master – as does anything worth pursuing, and the path to enlightenment is not all love and light as is promised by the false prophet.
The path to finding balance can mean letting go of attachments, expectations and anticipation and just doing the work. Meditation asks us to go in, to sit with ourselves when we are uncomfortable and to accept ourselves fully for who we are. Not for the practice of self love, but for the practice of letting go, stripping the ego and replacing it with observation, with remembering the self, seeing the self and accepting the self with gratitude. Meditation is the great leveller – it is the way of the spiritual warrior and with regular practice it will help you move mountains.
In March I am hosting a workshop on meditation. A collaboration of the years I have spent working on myself, working with others, learning from the masters and exploring movement, meditation and breath.
If you are ready to meditate today, go here. Having practiced meditation for 30 years, I joined Eiriu Eolas 10 years ago and it is my preferred guided practice. The term Eiriu Eolas is Gaelic for breath and this work has greatly improved my mind, body and soul so much that I schedule my life around my practice every week.
Enjoy and Namaste.