Last month, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time…I took a meditation class. As someone with a plethora of ideas flowing in my head, I felt like I needed a calming influence. It was roughly ten years ago that I first meditated during a yoga class at my local YMCA. I had some great experiences during that time and I remember getting into my car after class not caring whether another driver wanted to cut me off. After all, I had just experienced deep inner peace.
This time around, I hoped that my five-week class would explore meditation in greater depth. I hoped for some big answers to all of my questions and all the “little tricks” that would help me find inner calm.
Our class was small…there were eight of us and we sat in a semi-circle on meditation cushions. We faced a small altar and the swami who was teaching the class. There was a faint smell of incense from the other room. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little weird in this setting.
We started each session with a five or ten minute meditation including some prayerful chanting from the swami. I felt relaxed, but my “monkey brain” was still jumping around with random thoughts.
We went on to learn that using a mantra, such as “om” is a useful tool to keep our minds from jumping all over the place. We were also instructed to focus on one of two points: either the point between our eyes or an area in the center of our chest. Our homework was to practice meditation for five or ten minutes every morning.
I found the homework to be challenging and as my mind wandered and I could hear distractions from traffic and my neighbors. But I did find that I had sporadic moments of relaxation and connection with some higher plane.
At each class, the swami asked us about our experience doing our “homework.” Most of us reported having a lot of problems focusing and dealing with distractions, especially a gentleman whose 15 pound cat always jumped on him during his meditations. A couple members of the class reported that they could not find the time or were too distracted to meditate.
The swami answered our questions and assured us that meditation, whether done correctly or not, was a very positive step. He went on to say that our minds really want to be left alone, and the act of meditating was a way we can exercise greater control of our mind.
When my last class was over, I felt slightly let down. I did not have that big “a-ha” moment I had hoped for nor did I feel like I was any better at meditating. I was not sure I felt any different as a result of taking of these classes. And my mind still felt quite untamed.
But now, one week from our last class, I came to a realization that meditation was like a lot of things in life…the simple act of showing up can make the difference. Think about it, how many times have you dreaded working out only to really get into it once you got there? I believe that meditation, and life in general, is a lot like that.
If there is something we really want out of life, whether it be to be a writer, to achieve inner peace through meditation, or to be a chef…we need to show up.Â We may not be good at these things just yet, but the willingness to work at it even when we’re not good will take us closer to where we want to be.
I’ll see you on the meditation cushion (my pillow) tomorrow morning!
Have you experienced moments you were thankful for showing up even when part of you really did not want to?
Creative Commons photo courtesy of oddsock.