When I first began my meditation practice I was experiencing much inner distress. What I remember are these truths; I had a deep inner sadness that seemed to have been with me all my life, I was unsure of the viability of my marriage, and I was afraid of considering ending my marriage because I didn’t know what I would do to support myself and still care for my three children. Even though it appeared on the outside to all those I encountered that I my life was in good order, inside I was unsettled. One of the problems was that everything appeared fine on the outside, so how would anyone understand that I really needed my life to change, especially if I struggled with facing that truth? Meditation helped me to find my way slowly but deliberately, and mostly comfortably through my changes. But it took some time.
At the beginning when I “tried” to meditate I fell asleep. It took some time to find a time of day that worked, where I remained alert and felt rested. Many people share with me the falling asleep problem. I reassure them by saying, your body knows what it needs and it most likely needs more rest than you are giving it. This can be addressed. And it is important to find a time of day when you are feeling rested. This can also be addressed.
In the early stages of my practice, it was frustrating to sit and “try” not to think. It’s best not to try not to think. If all the wise souls who have become proficient at the practice of meditation suggest that it’s best to focus the mind through keeping it trained on one thought, one word, one image, then this technique is a tried and true method of developing the skill of focused mind. Having spent a lot of time practicing, I concur that it’s best not to try not to think. It’s more useful to follow the breath, or repeat a word or phrase as one works on stilling the mind. Persistence is the only answer here.
When we develop the discipline to sit, over time emotional content surfaces as our being moves out of the mind and back into a more full body existence. The head and the heart connect as we breathe deeply into our being and let go of the habit of remaining mind focused. Unexpressed emotional content that is stored in the body energetically begins to release, leaving us crying or raging or smiling with it’s release. The mind need not understand what is behind the emotion, just letting it release is the best approach in my opinion. Moving this stored up energy out of our body is healthy.
When I think about how meditation helped me, these are the thoughts that come to mind.
* I no longer felt trapped in the grips of my own thinking.
* I discovered there was a calm place inside me that felt restoring when I connected with it.
* In time I learned I could connect with the inner calm more easily as I continued to practice.
* My mental confusion about what to do in my life was eliminated as I started to live from the center of my being.
* I trusted myself because I was no longer confused by my thinking or outside forces on my decision-making.
* My decisions were made from a centered place in my being, that was stronger than my mind, a place I felt comfortable relying on.
* My ability to focus on whatever I put attention to was enhanced, causing improvement in almost every aspect of my life.
* My respect for myself grew as I felt centered and positive with my actions as they aligned with my inner world.
It has been more than twenty years since I began meditating daily. I have had periods when my practice slipped away for a time, thankfully not for too long. Somehow I got caught in believing I didn’t have time. Now I know that I don’t have time not to meditate. To live without this daily practice would be like giving up eating or sleeping. It feels so necessary for my well-being that I don’t even consider not making time for sitting daily. Can you imagine saying I don’t have time for sleeping? We all know what happens when sleep is not a priority. We are tired, we can’t think clearly, we need stimulants to remain in motion. Mostly I consider meditation in this way. The difference in how I experience the day is so profound now that to not do it would mean such a decline in the quality of my experience that there is nothing in me that would consider giving up the practice.
My motivation to meditate daily is this – I know that it’s up to me to choose to live through the center of my being, connected to a deep source of well-being and positive energy, feeling the compassionate depth of my heart in all interactions, and to remember that there is a stream of light holding me as I move throughout my day. It’s right there for me when I choose it. Therefore, daily I choose to be held and nourished by this daily practice.