My Meditation Experience
Andrea with Oliver the Pom
My Meditation Experience
During my divorce I got back into therapy for my anxiety and depression. My life was out of control and I was miserable. Not only was I exhausted from my anxiety and worry but I was too overwhelmed to think much less be productive in any way. My lack of production and problem solving made me feel ashamed and worthless.
My therapist recommended meditation for me. I tried it and failed miserably. I could not quiet my mind at all. My mind was like a wild 2 year-old child with ADHD who just ate a pound of pure sugar. It was out of control, wandered all over the place, and would not cooperate at all. I was so frustrated with myself and felt like a complete failure.
My therapist kept recommending meditation and I kept trying and failing miserably. This made me feel even worse about myself. Every time I would try to meditate I would either think of things that I forgot to do, find myself planning dinner, or creating a shopping list instead of meditating. I felt like I was at war with my mind. It seemed like the harder I tried the more difficult it became for me.
My therapist continued to recommend it and I kept reading articles about the benefits of meditation and wished that I could master it. One day I decided to research and find out why I am struggling with it. During my research I realized that I had the wrong idea about what meditation actually is.
I thought that meditation was where you pause or freeze your mind for a certain period of time. I thought that I had to totally stop my mind from thinking and turn it into a blank slate and keep it there. I felt that I had to make my brain stop and cease thinking at all. When I could not achieve this I felt like a complete failure! It turned out that this is not what meditation is about at all.
“Meditation is a way to let the noise settle and see what is inside.” Russell Simmons
Meditation is really focusing on something whether it be an object or mantra while clearing your mind of all else. It is training your mind to focus, be still, and just listen. The more you practice meditation the more you learn to control your focus. This does not mean you have failed if a stray thought arises. When a stray though comes through you acknowledge it and let it go. You can look at the stray thoughts as birds flying by. You observe them but you do not try to control them. Just starve the stray thoughts and they will go way. Feed the focus and it will increase. “What you feed grows and what you starve dies.”-Victoria Osteen
Meditation takes a great deal of patience and practice. I have learned that meditation is like working out. You cannot go to the gym a few times and expect to see the results immediately. Training the mind is like training the body. It takes time, practice, and persistence to train the body. I have discovered that it is the same way for the mind. When the mind has been allow to run wild throughout life it is not going to change overnight. Practice makes perfect. The more I practice meditation the easier it gets. Not all meditation sessions are perfect. Just like workouts some days are better than others.
I will share with you my “do’s” and “don’ts” of meditation.
Don’t give up!
Don’t get angry with or beat yourself up if you cannot focus and meditate right away.
Don’t get frustrated with yourself.
Don’t feed your stray thoughts.
Do remember that you are human and be patient with yourself.
Do be persistent.
Do try and try again.
I had to learn to be loving and patient with myself. When I get angry and frustrated with myself it only made things more difficult and made me feel like a failure. I have learned to pull myself back when my mind drifts. It is like when you are driving and you find yourself veering off of the road. You do not jerk the car back on the road you just gently bring the car back within the lines. When I lose my focus I just take a deep breath and re-focus on the mantra that I am working with. Sometimes I need to focus on an object. I just keep gently re-focusing my mind when it drifts.
Some days are better than others. If I am having a very bad day and my mind is refusing to cooperate I just try again later when I feel more centered. I try to meditate every morning because it helps me to have a more productive day but if I cannot I make sure that I meditate at the end of my day because some meditation later in the day is better than no meditation at all.
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”-Buddha
Meditation is important to me because it makes me a much better person. Meditation helps me to connect with my true self which brings out the best in me. When I consistently meditate I am slower to anger, more loving, compassionate, a much better problem solver and more productive. I have noticed that I am free of overwhelm and mind clutter. As a result of a clearer mind, I can come up with solutions to challenges much more quickly. It really does help me to better manage my stress level. Meditation has also improved my health. Meditation is great for reducing blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In addition to this, meditation can also improve the quality of sleep.
I started out looking at meditation as hard work and a necessary evil. I did not look forward to it at all. In the beginning, it was a struggle and like trying the climb a mountain. There were days when I thought I would never be able to meditate. I thought I was just not good enough.
I did not give up and kept trying and now I am so proud of myself. No, I am not a professional at it. I have not perfectly mastered it but I am doing it well enough that I am benefitting from it which makes me want to keep practicing. Now meditation is like going to the spa for me. I say this because I actually enjoy it. It is my “me” time where I can relax, clear my mind, and just focus on one thing. The best way to describe it is to say I feel like I reboot my mind like you reboot the computer. My mind is refreshed after meditation.
“Now is My Time”-Oprah Winfrey
I have also noticed that through practicing meditation that I am learning how to also control my emotions. When I start to react badly to a situation I can stop myself and choose to think before I react and my life is improving as a result. As a result of the benefits of meditation I feel like an empowered woman. I have much more control of my life and my destiny.
I have not replaced prayer with meditation. I feel that meditation has strengthened my relationship with God because it helps me to receive Gods wisdom. God cannot communicate with us if our minds are too busy and cluttered. “Prayer is you speaking to God. Meditation is allowing the spirit to speak to you.” –Deepak Chopra
It has taken much practice and persistence to get the hang of meditation but it was well worth it. For me the benefits outweigh the time spent to learn the practice. It was a healthy investment in myself. I am so thankful that I kept trying and did not permanently give up. I am very proud of how far I have come with it. I am excited about what the future holds for me.
If you are interested in learning to meditate my advice to you is to not give up and keep trying. Forget about your past experiences. What your past experiences with meditation were like do not matter. Yesterday is gone so start anew today. Take things one meditation at a time. Know that if you are consistent, persistent, and patient that the results will come.
I am not saying it will be easy but that it will be worth it. Meditation brings out the best in one’s self and life. It brings clarity to the mind and improves health. Meditation increases peace within the mind, body, and soul. “When you find peace within, you create a peaceful world around you.”-Louise Hay
“The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from the center of inner peace.”-J. Donald Walters