It has been awhile since I set myself a challenge to get involved with mindful meditation. Its been interesting and frustrating in equal measure and i’m pretty sure I get why so many people try meditation and then give up after a few trys.
I downloaded the audio book – The little book of mindfulness by Dr Patrizia Collard who promised me that by meditating for just 10 minutes each I would feel less stress and more peace. So i have dutifully worked through the exercises in the book and despite some funny looks from my neighbours (i have meditated outside when I could), interruptions from my children, a very busy and wandering mind who does not like being tamed, I think Dr Collard is right. I do feel calmer and more at peace.
I have a few favourite meditations from the book and if you get a chance to buy the book in whatever format you can I would recommend it. My main piece of advice is persevere!
I will give you an example of my typical meditation routine. I usually meditate on an evening – I am less busy and I can sneak in 10 minutes after dinner is done and before the kids need anything.
The best place for me is either in my bedroom or stood outside on my patio – hence the neighbour’s now thinking I have serious issues as I will happily stand outside in my coat wrapped in blanket for 10 minutes in the freezing cold!!!
It takes me a few minutes for my mind to get what I am trying to do. At first it was all over the place…did i turn the cooker off?…did i turn the dishwasher on?…..I wonder what is on TV tonight?… It would then settle into whichever exercise I had chosen for 1 second and then return to the busy over thinking that causes me so much stress…did I do my job ok today?….why didn’t I think of this or that?…What should I have done differently?…
Honestly meditation at first was exhausting and I was so frustrated that my mind wandered ALL the time. I spent most of the 10 minutes refocusing my mind. It didn’t feel very peaceful I can tell you!!!
After the first week I did find it easier – It is very normal to feel this way but I can understand why people give up. Meditation is a skill, something that requires practice. That practice isn’t always fun but the only way to get better at meditating is to keep doing it!
The second week I tried to get too technical – I tried to include yoga poses. I can honestly say if i’d videoed this I would be full on trending on youtube, twitter and facebook but for all the wrong reasons!!!! Oh dear – an overweight, unflexible 40 year old woman who has very little experience in yoga should not try to run before she can walk when it comes to combining meditation and yoga.
So in my head I wanted to look something like this:
I can definitely say i what i achieved was more akin to this:
I couldn’t reach my ankle let alone my foot and lift it up more than 2 inches of the ground? – you have got to be joking!!
So my combined yoga, mediation experiment ended and I settled with standing or sitting – even I could manage that.
Week 3 was more successful. I didn’t always manage the 10 minutes of meditation and had to ‘make do’ with 5 minutes some nights as quite honestly I would get into bed and think – Crap!! I havent meditated! What I have found is that whilst I am in the moment I can now relax, I can free my mind without it wandering too far…if it does I can bring it back without stressing out too much. It still happens, I still get annoyed but there is definite improvement.
Week 4 and I am a convert. I am even thinking about doing some ‘proper’ meditation courses. I am actually getting grumpy if I don’t have my meditation time. I have stopped meditating every night, I personally find that fewer but longer sessions is helping me focus more. I now schedule me time in 4 days a week, a bit like i would a meeting at work. I put it in my diary as ‘M Time’. I am doing 20 minute sessions as for me the first 5 minutes is still a bit of a fight. It takes awhile before I settle into whatever exercise I have chosen and yes sometimes I fall asleep 😂
Who would have thought I could sit in silence for 20 minutes (certainly not my husband :)) letting my mind free itself to go into what I can only describe as a peaceful lull. I definitely feel less stressed but more than that I feel more focused on who I am. It sounds so corny. I feel more confident in myself and more able to deal with what life throws at me.
I am not stopping my meditation journey – I am going to build on it, but I’m also realistic. People practice meditation for years before becoming a ‘master’ at it. I’m happy to do it my own way to help me and my own life. However you practice mindfulness or meditation – your way is perfect for you. Whether that’s a peaceful walk, sitting in the garden, laying in a darkened room or just having 5 minutes locked in the bathroom!!!
Keep on practising – love Helen