Full disclosure. I’m kind of a commitment phobic. I have a really hard time saying “yes” to things because then I am expected to actually do them. That’s how it works right? And I definitely don’t want to be one of those people that posts on facebook about all of the amazing things they are planning to do only to crawl sheepishly into the corner when they STOP training for that marathon.
There is one particular practice that I have resisted with such fervor and determination you would think it had insulted me at a party or slept with my husband—meditation. I have read a boatload of personal development and wellness books and every single one sings the praises of quiet meditation. No really…Every. Single. One. I just didn’t get it. First of all, it felt like a waste of time. Why sit quietly with my eyes closed when there was perfectly insane reality TV to watch? It turns out that I also have three small children. We’re busy. When I think “meditation” I picture some holy, quiet woman sitting Indian style with a monk on a hill. She probably gave up coffee and sugar ages ago and never says the F word. That’s just never going to be me. I’m Italian. There’s nothing quiet about me. It’s not like I didn’t try.
I bought the book Meditation for Dummies. It suggested all kinds of different methods for beginners. There was the counting method to clear your head. There was the breathing method of course which just reminded me too much of childbirth. (This is supposed to relax me, not produce post traumatic stress symptoms.) And then there were the projection methods that involved picturing an apple, picturing a movie screen etc. None of it worked. I have no attention span and was bored out of my mind. I gave up. Fast forward a few years and a third kid later and I dragged out the candles again. I decided this time to “become one with nature” and headed outdoors for my meditation time. Here’s how it went:
“Ok. I’m sitting. I am sitting in the grass. What if a bug crawls on me? Am I allowed to smack it? Focus. Breathe. What is that noise? Who in the hell cuts their grass at 6:30am? Focus Gina. Breathe… I smell bacon. I wonder who’s making that? I should have eaten first. Jesus I can’t focus at all. I suck at this. Ok try again. Breathing in and breathing out…. MOOOOOOM!!!”
And that was it. The past year, however, something shifted. Life happened. My third child was born. I dissolved one of my businesses. I felt overwhelmed. Lost. I bought more books and of course at least once in each of them the subject of meditation came up. If you do the research, which I begrudgingly did, it turns out that pretty much every important person in history who contributed anything of value to the human race practiced some form of meditation. (Sigh.) I couldn’t put it off any longer. There were things in my life that I was looking to change and this was the one thing that I hadn’t tried. I mean hell if it was good enough for the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra and Russell Brand, maybe it would be good enough for me.
A friend of mine who I consider to be quite enlightened (and who also happens to be a millionaire) meditates regularly. She advised me to start slowly, committing to just two minutes, twice a day. You might think that sounds entirely doable, but if you’re a mom you know that peeing alone is a feat of Olympic proportions, so four uninterrupted minutes are hard to come by. As a coach, I know this is an excuse. If a client said these things to me I would call it “resistance.” For myself, however, it’s perfectly justifiable right? Wrong. I set my alarm to ring a bit earlier and start with two minutes. I close my eyes for a bit, check the clock once to see if I can quit. The next day I up it to three minutes. Something shifts. I feel really relaxed when I open my eyes. I feel like there isn’t anything that can rattle me; not the morning rush before school, not traffic or a fussy baby. I am super calm. Calm is a foreign feeling to me at this point. I continue to up it one minute each day that week. By Friday night as I am sitting at dinner with friends, sipping my wine, I am keenly aware that something is different about me. I am judging no one. I am feeling something that I cannot put my finger on but it’s fantastic. I am at peace.
By the following week I am up to ten minutes and I suddenly find myself wishing for more. It is at this point that I stumble on this video from Deepak Chopra. It’s a short, guided meditation. Deepak says, (and I’m paraphrasing) that many people mistake meditation as a practice that is meant to help you tune out, when in fact the beauty of the practice is to help you tune in. Meditation takes you to the space between your thoughts and that space is meant to be a portal to voice of the Infinite. It is in your quiet time that ideas will flow, that your perspective will shift. Take a look. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/deepak-chopra-meditation
It’s not about chanting. It’s not about getting into (and holding) some perfect yoga pose that only 20 year olds who have never given birth are meant to get into. It’s about being still. It’s about shutting off the phone and just BEING. Listening. It is in this quiet time that you invite the voice of a higher power to speak to you, to guide, and to fill you with peace and healing. And guess what? It works.
There are people who have reported incredible transcendental experiences during meditation, almost like lucid dreams. There are folks who say that some of the greatest inventions and masterpieces of our time were shown to their creators during deep meditation.
I didn’t have anything trippy like that. I didn’t see an image of the next great invention. I didn’t get the formula for the next breakthrough cure. What I did get was a new level of peace, a new space for hope, a new feeling of being one with a higher power, and 90% of this post. Hey… it’s a start. I’ll take it. ;).