Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash
From Someone Who Never Thought They Could Do It
Yes, another meditation story on Medium. But let me clear a couple things up for you right away. I’m not going to tell you how to meditate. Or how to breathe. Or the correct posture for Zazen. The truth is that I’m not even very good at meditating.
I usually meditate right when I wake up, in bed. Lying down. I’ve never gotten a message from Buddha telling me I was doing it wrong. Because for me, it’s not about the perfect position (right now) or the depths of where I go, it’s about doing it.
I meditated for 365 consecutive days. The year before I blew a streak of over 200 days. But the next day, I got back on track. So in the past two years, I think I’ve only missed one day. And I remember that day. It wasn’t good.
Meditation isn’t the cure to all your woes. You aren’t going to sit down tomorrow and instantly change your life. But isn’t it weird how some people are so resistant to the idea of meditation? You are just sitting in silence and breathing. Everyone could use more of that in their day. Everyone.
The Obvious Benefits
Do you see the important thing up there? Before meditating every day I was balanced, calm, and grateful. Before. And after. The more I did it, the more grateful I naturally became. Because when I can sit in silence and just breathe, everything else doesn’t seem that bad.
I’ve always been a calm person. I rarely raise my voice an octave. But meditation has given me a way to close my eyes anywhere, at any time, and relax. It’s made it easier for me to block out the noise. Not actual noise. But the noise of modern society.
Balanced is so much harder than we ever thought growing up. Most people think they are living a balanced like, but they are just kidding themselves. 70-hour work weeks aren’t balanced. Nor is a week straight of Netflix.
Balance is the ability to give equal importance to all parts of your life.
I am more balanced, calm, and grateful after these two years. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve coupled meditation with a ton of introspection, personal growth, classes, and reading, but the ability to just be is from meditating daily. And what greater benefit could there be? Then to just be.
Why I Never Thought I Could Meditate
It wasn’t because I don’t like sitting still. I’m probably too good at that. It’s because I grew up with a television as a babysitter. I was a latchkey kid who was either playing sports, playing Intellivision, or watching Little House on the Prairie or The Brady Bunch. Yes, I’m that old.
I didn’t really get silence even though I was alone all the time. I used the television as company. And over time, it just became the background. About five years ago I moved the tv out of my bedroom for the first time since I was about ten. And although I hadn’t started meditating yet, it made me accept quiet more.
I also thought it was too New Age for me. Like if I meditated it meant I had to shave my head and live in silence. I was uninformed and kind of a nincompoop. But then I started to get out of my own way. I started reading and retaining. I started to study Feng Shui. I read about Zen Buddhism. Then I became that New Age person I dismissed before. Now I have a box of crystals sitting on my desk that I need to figure out.
I didn’t have to move to Woodstock to feel comfortable crossing my legs in silence. Because there’s an app for that. Sure, Buddha never thought we would use an app to achieve spiritual enlightenment, but in today’s world — whatever works.
Now, look at me.
The Not-So-Obvious Benefits
I feel better about myself. It’s not solely because of meditation, but meditation alone does make me feel like I am taking care of myself more than anything else. Yeah, working out is great. So is biking. And cryotherapy. But meditation for me is acceptance. Of myself. I am ok just being alone and quiet with myself. And that’s not as easy as it sounds.
I’m calmer during turbulence on an airplane. I am not scared of flying, but I don’t enjoy turbulence. Now when we hit the bumps, I immediately put on a guided meditation and close my eyes. The turbulence is always over before I am.
I’ve never cared about what other people thought. I’ve always done what I wanted to do in life. But I did use to wonder if people were talking about me or if I was making the right decision. That tiny bit that I had is gone. Meditation lets me be at peace almost all the time. And that’s just from ten minutes a day. From my bed.
“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
I Told You I Wouldn’t, But…
No, I’m not going to tell you how I sit. Or how I breathe. I promised I wouldn’t. And I’m not any good at it anyway. But I do it. Without fail.
So if you haven’t tried it, why? Why not really try it? When I started I was doing it for like three minutes. But then I liked it so I would do another three. Now, I’ve settled into ten minutes every morning.
But what happens is that you want more. So after 365 consecutive days of meditating with Headspace, I brought back Stop, Breathe, & Think this morning and did 17 minutes to start my day. And I remembered that Stop, Breathe, & Think had my favorite 7-minute meditation, Lion Mind.
Press play. Just once. All the way through.
I never thought I could do it. Not even one minute. Not every day. Not for a full year. Look at me now, ma.