Learning to meditate
Throughout our lives, we will have phases or periods of time that are harder and more difficult to navigate. We lose our way – sometimes by a lot and other times, by a little bit. Well, I was in one of those phases where I was feeling very ungrounded and by a lot. My marriage was crumbling and I wasn’t so sure if it was in my best interest to save it. I was raising three kids, living in an adopted country and didn’t have any family living around me.
My mind was in full swing monkey mode. In yoga and meditation which I had been practicing regularly for 10 years at that point, there is talk about ‘monkey mind’. Monkey mind is when the thoughts in your mind just cannot settle and seem to be going 100 mph. It is near impossible to relax or stay calm when monkey mind is present. I had that gentle but persistent nudge inside me telling me to meditate. Up to this point in my life, most of my meditation was connected to my yoga practice with some meditation workshops thrown in here and there. It was something that came natural to me. I enjoyed the practice and the result after meditating. This time though, it was different. Very different. I took out my yoga mat, sat down in a traditional meditation posture (crossed leg and straight spine) and started to focus on my breathing with the intention of slowing it all right down. Slow the breath down and my thoughts will start to slow down. Well, none of that was happening. Monkey mind was present and not having any of this – calming or slowing down nonsense. I tried and tried for days and couldn’t do it. The thoughts of what has happened, what will happen, what is going on in my life, what about my sons and why can I not meditate were all there in my mind and it seemed like all at the same time. Relaxing was not happening and I was pretty sure it wasn’t helpful for my mind either.
The nudge wouldn’t go away. Somehow, meditation was key to getting my feet back on the ground and my mind settled. It also made me feel like I was failing at this too. This was the first time that I was creating a meditation practice independent from my yoga. I wouldn’t say that I was just so determined to make this work, it was more like a feeling that I needed this. Just a bit of space in my mind to slow down, to let me catch my breath before I had to carry on in life in uncharted territory.
How to focus on meditation
I had a realization on what I needed to help me with practicing focused meditation; I need guided meditations. I needed to give my mind something to focus on during during meditation in order to slow the thought process down. This realization alone gave me some relief. I wasn’t failing and I didn’t have to do this alone. I bought a couple of meditation cds and searched google. I was using a 12-minute guided meditation technique. It was hard to argue that I couldn’t find 12 minutes in my day to do something that could have such benefits. I mostly used that gap of time between the kid’s homework and starting dinner. That’s what I did almost every day for 12 minutes and I felt the difference. My mind found comfort and support in being guided – guidance on my breathing, releasing and letting go of the muscles in my body to letting my thoughts come and go. When my thoughts would spin off in their direction, I could come back and re-focus on the guidance. Meditating became less of a strain and I could start to relax. I’m not going to fib, the first six months took focus and discipline to meditate on a regular basis. I was grateful though as my monkey mind had started to quiet down. I got to that place where I looked forward to that part of my day.
Months after starting this meditation practice at home, I met Mandy who was offering True Rest guided meditation classes locally. I loved them and found I could meditate lying down and be comfortable. Our friendship grew and we eventually started Rest & Be offering her True Rest meditation online and on the move with our app. I found meditation to be an aid or tool that helps me slow it all down, take a break even if it’s for 10 minutes and give myself that self-love & self-respect.