I want to be completely honest with you all. I have been cheating at my meditation practise. It’s been going on for quite some time now, and I am not proud of myself at all.
I knew that I was cheating, of course I did, yet I still kept doing it. Then posting content on social media encouraging my followers to meditate, move and breathe.
How do you cheat at meditation? Well, allow me to explain. I use an app called Headspace, which is wonderful. They have guided meditations and a little log of how many days in a row you’ve meditate for. It also tells you how many minutes you have meditate for in total. The problem is that you need to ‘play’ a meditation each day for it to count. And this is where the cheating started.
My meditation practise begins
When I learned to meditate, I thought I had to bring a one-pointed focus to the mind. My initial meditation practise involved paying attention to one thing (my breath) with as much focus as I could. And I loved it. Each day I would complete my asana practise, pranayama and then meditate. This combination of practises took the edge off the world. It softened the corners and made little things not quite so annoying. Basically, I felt calmer, I slept better, and I made more mindful choices with eating and exercising.
But life got in the way. I moved to a new house and got a puppy, which provided distractions as I found a new routine. Sadly, my new structure didn’t prioritise my own wellbeing or my meditation practise. I still listened to Headspace every day, but I wasn’t really tuning in or focusing. Instead I would listen to a sleep meditation to help me drift off. I’d put on a 3 minute unwind track and allow my mind to wander. I was ticking the box of meditating, but I wasn’t putting any effort into it. The result was that I didn’t experience any of those beautiful benefits I mentioned earlier.
Being called out
Recently, at school, I was saying how my anxiety had taken quite a jump lately. All the restrictions and living with COVID-19 have been taking its toll on me. I’ve not been sleeping well, I’ve felt on edge permanently and have found it very difficult to switch off. Sharing my thoughts/feelings with a colleague I expected a simple smile and some kind of assertion that they also felt the same way. Instead they said that they were surprised because I was doing so much yoga and meditation, that I must know how to manage these feelings.
That was like a slap in the face – and one that I needed. I had not been doing much in the way of my own yoga or meditation, but I definitely knew what I should be doing or could be doing to help myself.
A fresh start to meditation
This wake-up call was just what I needed to really bring my current lack of routine into focus. I enjoy meditating and practising yoga, this is what I’m passionate about, because it works. It helps with so many different things – including the anxiety, insomnia and feeling of being always on. So, I decided to start a bit of an experiment – I have decided to get back onto the meditation path with a sense of dedication towards my own mental health and wellbeing. While I’m still using Headspace, I now make use of an unguided track set for 10 minutes.
It’s also important for me to be very gentle with myself in my new venture, because I want this to last. I’m not meditating to tick a box; I am meditating to help me feel better and to give me a tool to help me cope with an ever-changing world. My plan is to mediate for 10 minutes in the morning and a further 10 minutes at night. So far, it’s been going quite well. I am making the effort and finding the benefits have started to show up. I’m sleeping better, I’m noticing when the tension and tightness are creeping into my neck and shoulders and beginning to lower those anxiety levels.
Becoming a habit
I am by no manner ‘cured’ or floating through life, but I do feel better, more in control and like I am doing something nice for myself. A weird consequence of all this mediation, is that I find myself having better focus throughout the day and somehow, I have more time each day.
Some days my meditation practise has been pretty rubbish, I’ve found it so hard to concentrate and focus. My mind has been everywhere but in the present moment. But the beauty of meditating daily, is that the quality of the experience doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the benefits afterwards. Each day I come to my seat with a fresh perspective, renewed focus and desire to ‘give it a go.’
I might not be the living example of a ‘perfect’ yogi and meditator, but I don’t need to be. I just need to do this for myself and see where it leads me. Want to learn more about meditation, check out this post with some recommended Podcasts.