When I initially thought of the word meditation, I thought of either the green tea-drinking detox types, who like to show-off on their Instagram about how they’ve got their life together or the intense self-proclaimed gurus, going to jungle retreats and needing absolute silence to feel one with nature.
Since I fall into neither of these categories, I didn’t understand how the notion could work for me, someone who was mainly looking for a way to relieve stress and deal with life.
The concept of meditation in itself is inspiring and on paper it does make sense. However, the idea in itself, has become so westernised with everyone having several different opinions and proclaiming several different ways of changing your life, that I really didn’t have faith it could actually help.
I read a lot of books, spoke to many friends and even downloaded a few mediation apps on my phone. I ended up trying a lot, but every time I tried nothing seemed to work. With trying and failing each time, I experienced a sense of frustration which put me off the concept more and more.
Then one day after experiencing one of those familiar moments where life’s challenges get the better of you, I decided once again to give meditation another go. I started with one of the most common meditative practices, breathing exercises.
Miraculously, it worked. In the moment, taking a few deep breaths calmed me down and made me look at the situation realistically, instead of with anxiety-tinted glasses. I was surprised to say the least.
Breathing is something we do subconsciously day-to-day. Apart from the scientific evidence that breathing provides oxygen, which is essential to the brain, just the simple act of bringing awareness to your breath breaks your train of anxious thoughts and brings you back to the present moment.
After this one incident, which felt like a fluke, the next time a stressful situation occurred I remembered the previous incident and decided to do meditative breathing again and lo and behold, it helped once more.
This led me to the realisation that the key word here was ‘decide’. I decided to breathe at the time when I needed to the most.
You can’t expect something you do only once, to work. I recognised that in all my earlier tries to meditate, I only did them once and never tried them again. Just like everything else, practice makes you better. The more you do something the more it becomes a habit until it feels natural for you to do. The same is true for meditation.
The takeaway is, even when your brain is chanting ‘this won’t work’ and you’ve got various different thoughts weighing you down, you determinedly push through and keep going.
If you, like me, were naïve enough to think that meditation is a catch-all technique to fix your life in one go, I hate to break it to you but it doesn’t work like that.
Life isn’t meant to be fixed its meant to be lived. It is a constant and ever-changing journey, not a destination. There will always be ups and downs you experience every day and meditation is an important tool to have in your toolbox, which will help make life easier on most days.
The answer is to just keep doing it, repetition is key.
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar