Written by: Christina Vestey
Pretty much every second person who tells me they have tried to meditate says they gave up because they couldn't do it or weren't good at it. I always like to say, ‘you can't be good at meditation'. If you can sit for 5 minutes in silence then you are essentially meditating. There is this misconception that meditation is a state that you achieve. You sit in silence, close your eyes, and spend the next 20 minutes in an internal fight where you try and remove any thought that comes to your mind. Every time a thought comes to mind, you feel defeated. It's more stressful than it is relaxing or awakening.
In truth, meditation is a state of being that is already present in all of us. It is a matter of learning how to access it. I see it as taking time for yourself to ‘just be' and connect with yourself. It's natural for thoughts to be a part of this. The point is when a thought or feeling arises, let it be there. Sometimes we reach the end of the time we have set aside for meditation and realise we have spent the whole time thinking about anything and everything. That's okay! So what? Being aware of that is already a step in a very positive direction. Being aware of our thoughts during meditation, means we have detached ourselves enough from them and can turn our attention once more to our breath.
When we close our eyes and focus on our breathing, we automatically connect to our inner selves. As we rush about throughout the day, we tend not to consider our breath; how our body feels, and where our emotions are. Meditation is like an observation deck where we get to engage with where we are at in this moment in time. It can sometimes be uncomfortable as some pretty challenging emotions can arise. They arise because they are trying to tell us that something remains unresolved within us. It is an opportunity to reflect and listen. If we take the time to do this, the emotions we feel won't have the same hold on us. Suddenly you will notice that your emotions no longer trigger you in the same way.
Meditation impacts other facets of life. Have you ever noticed how quickly we can react to things without thinking and allowing ourselves to reflect and observe the situation? Anger takes over, and it's only sometime later, one is filled with regret knowing that we could have responded differently. Just noting this opens the way to approach similar situations differently the next time they arise. We may need to experience the situation a hundred times before we recognise our reactions do not achieve what we want. Suddenly we have an ‘aha' moment or a moment of awareness and realise that we can take a different approach that leaves us feeling a whole lot better and secure within ourselves. Getting to know your inner voice is an incredible journey that offers us unlimited opportunities to move in this world; not from the point of opposition and weakness but from inner strength and connection.
The amazing thing is that every time you stop and ‘just be', you create a space to connect to awareness. You can access this place, any time. It sounds like an impossible task, and I can assure you it is a challenge. BUT what you notice is that the more you approach your day being present and aware of yourself in your surroundings, the less life happens to you, and the more you can direct your life. This is what I love about meditation. It is not just the quiet time we have to connect with our inner compass. The reality is we can connect to our inner compass at all times, no matter how busy and noisy our daily lives may be. Meditation just opens the door.
So take the time to sit or lie quietly, even for 5 minutes, and listen. You can do this when you go to bed if you can't find another moment. Pause throughout the day and notice what's going on around you. Listen carefully and feel your responses to situations. These are all messages guiding you. We cannot control what the next moment holds, but we can choose how we respond to it. This statement can sound quite flippant, particularly when events can turn our world upside down, leaving us feeling terrified of what lies before us. Awareness will not take the experience away, but it will allow you to see your world as part of a bigger picture. It will give you a trusted footing on how you can approach the challenges you face. Your choices become considered reflections rather than heated or random reactions. There is an intention to all that you do.