Meditation for me is like unlocking some secret world where I feel great and I see the truth that everything and everyone is beautiful and amazing. It took me a couple years to find the key or learn the combination, or more like a couple months once I committed to practicing daily.
Making that commitment was hard, why? Well how do I commit to something I don’t understand or really even know what it is? For me it seemed like agreeing to eat a food everyday that I had yet to taste, what if I don’t like it? What the heck is meditation anyway and how do I know if I’m doing it right? I had no clue nor did I know who to ask, nobody I knew meditated.
The first half dozen or so times I tried meditating I sat there feeling foolish and nothing happened.
I went to audible.com and downloaded one of the higher rated guided meditations. After a few attempts at listening for about 15 minutes I managed to go a full hour. It felt like time we’ll spent, and at the same time I saw no reason to continue practicing.
Around this time I had started training at a, new to me, martial arts studio. The teacher kept asking us to meditate and do it more often. After about year of this I realized that I could trust that his requests were in my best interest. I believed he knows what he is doing and his teachings will help me. So I committed to meditating at least 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week. I had a hunch this was a realistic goal that was achievable for me.
Listening to one guided meditation the woman asked me to imagine I am at a safe place. I thought of all the places I knew and realized I felt anxious or afraid at all of these places, I didn’t have a safe place. Somehow I knew this wasn’t natural, my Kung Fu teacher always seemed to be at ease and comfortable wherever he is.
All these little details were crucial for me.
I suspected that in nature by the water is where I could find a safe place, but I felt exposed or to vulnerable sitting on the ground or on a park bench. What if someone saw me and questioned what I was doing, how would I explain myself? I tried several spots until I found a small park with parking spaces right on the bay. Close enough to a main road that I felt safe from being attacked and empty enough that nobody would wonder what I am doing.
Sitting in my truck with the windows rolled down slightly and the sunroof open I could hear the water and the birds, and yet no person could reach in while I had my eyes closed. I felt safe to practice this strange thing called meditation.
I had discovered Wayne Dyer about 6 months earlier and he had a highly rated meditation cd that was just sound with no words. The 2 tracks were 20 minutes each. I knew that in order for me to honor my new commitment I needed to be really honest with myself about what sounded good and easily achievable. So I gave myself permission to fast forward the first half of the meditation cd, or to stop halfway through. Whatever would get me to sit for the full 10 minutes.
When I sat to meditate my mind came up with a bunch of reasons why now wasn’t a good time.
I’m running late and don’t have time, I need to hurry and get to work as I have to much to do. Or there is traffic I’ll skip the morning and do it at lunch.
Then when I did sit to meditate my mind would say I only have 5 minutes, or it doesn’t feel right skip it for today. And I would think of something I needed to do right now and I better stop meditating and write myself a note.
Shortly after starting my meditation practice I discovered Zencast. Listening to their stories echoed my own experience. The Mind was ingenious at creating enticing thoughts that sounded way better than meditating. I began to understand that this is a big part of meditation.
The practice is to realize they are just thoughts, I don’t need to listen to them and take immediate action.
As I sat and witnessed these thoughts they would pass and more appealing thoughts would come. I started having huge aha moments, during and after meditating, and I saw my life situations from an entirely different and more enjoyable viewpoint.
I later understood that I was reconnecting with my intuition. While sitting my inner critic and worrier would quiet down and I was able to hear my inner wisdom. Also I was going through a divorce during this time and I often felt consumed by fear and anxiety. So finding this calming tool called meditation was a huge relief and I felt empowered.
For several months I would cry during or after meditating.
My understanding is that I was grieving my accumulated losses and allowing myself to feel them for the first time. The tears would flow and seem to wash away my worries, I felt much lighter and unburdened.
After sticking with my commitment to meditate at least 10 minutes four days a week I found myself doing 20 minutes or longer 6 or 7 seven days a week. The benefits were now tangible, I felt great and I was a better person at work, at home, and with everyone.
After some weeks or maybe months of meditating something incredible happened. My thoughts seem to stop all together. No reliving the past or worrying about the future, only feeling what is happening now. I felt so loved and so loving towards everyone and everything. I saw that the universe and all her creations are amazing and beautiful. A bird would fly low over the water and it was as if I could feel the sensations the bird was feeling. Seeing the little ripples on the surface of the water was breathtaking. I could sit there all day and be content, without a care in the world, blissfully at peace.
This meditative state I call presence, fully in the now with no projecting into the past or future. Now that I knew what being present felt like it seemed easier to access. I had an early dinner with a friend in North Beach. He went to work after so I decided to walk through Chinatown. I made it about a half block in when presence enveloped me like a warm embrace. Everywhere I looked the colors, the buildings, the storefronts seemed amazing and wonderful.
After around 20 minutes of feeling this loving presence I wondered if maybe I had been drugged. I dismissed this possibility as this presence felt to friendly and peaceful to be drugs. I then boarded a city bus and everything I saw and touched was fascinating and extraordinary. When I was home the countertops and cupboards seemed remarkable and spectacular. I went to sleep feeling this way which was about 2 or 3 hours after it started. The next morning I woke up feeling as I normally do.
I kept up my daily meditation practice for 2 to 3 years. Now I meditate every now and then or when I am at a spiritual center or in times of distress. Often during my day the loving presence will wash over me and wherever I am and whatever I am doing will seem that much more beautiful and amazing.
I am wondering what a good analogy is to describe meditation? Maybe training wheels on a bike? The goal is not to become a master at riding with training wheels, training wheels are a stepping stone or a tool.
For me meditation is a tool or technique to help us be present.
The goal is to be present in all of life, to connect with our inner peace and joy and bring this with us wherever we go and regardless of circumstances. To feel love and see beauty in all of the universe’s creations.
So will mediation work for you, will you be present? There is one way to find out. I wish I had discovered meditation when I was a child. Eckhart Tolle meditation talk.