Thursday, 12 September 2013

Meditation

Stillness and reflection
The first time I heard about meditation I was ten years old and my Mother had just given me a book for my birthday called 'Meditation for Children'.

Although an avid reader, I was unimpressed  and uninterested in this particular book.  I didn't like my Mother telling me what to do especially if it was in any way related to her hippy ways and it lay on a shelf, disregarded, for years. I don't actually remember what happened to it.

I guess my Mother could see what was going on with me and was trying to do me a favour.  While I'm pretty happy with my brain, it has seen me through some complex and difficult situations, I do have one of those minds that churns incessantly.  So in my head, I think meditation is something I should do, and would benefit from.  If nothing else, I could do with conditioning myself to trigger the relaxation response.

I've tried to learn to meditate a number of different times in my life, with a number of different methods.

  • In my early 20s I bought a transcendental meditation cassette tape which had you repeat a mantra for 20 minutes.  
  • Inspired by a recent visit by Sri Chimnoy during my first stint working in London, I set up a small shrine with a candle to meditate on in the morning before I left for work.
  • When I was living in San Francisco I attended several terms of meditation classes at a 'church' that I eventually felt was a bit too cult-ish for my comfort. 
  • I've taken meditation workshops at Tibetan Buddhist temples.
  • I tried various guided meditations on YouTube in the interests of reducing stress while I was trying to get pregnant.
  • When I first lost Poppy, a friend recommended the meditation podcast 'Emotional Ease' to help with the merry-go-round of incessant self recriminatory thoughts I was suffering.
  • When I was pregnant with Pipkin, I listened to a meditation iPhone app while travelling to work on the tube in rush hour.  I find crowded tube trains extremely stressful.
I'm sure there are other times I've tried to start a meditation practice that I don't even recall.  I can honestly say I've learned something from each attempt, but I haven't ever stuck with it.

The problem is, when I try to meditate silently, my internal voice kicks up a big ruckus and I usually terminate the session after a couple of extremely uncomfortable minutes of conflicting internal dialogue.
I have more success with guided meditations but get bored with them very quickly and drift off into my own thoughts. 

The other problem is that I like my bed too much to get up any earlier in the morning than I have to, and evenings are about dinner and spending some quality time with Mr Duncan. 

I know.  Excuses, excuses.

I think the closest I've actually come to finding any peace in meditation is during yoga classes, when I am focussed on my breathing and my body is automatically responding to the teacher's instructions.  It took me years of regular yoga practice before I could even quiet, though not halt, the chatter in my brain during Savasana.

I was recently recommended a website called Buddhist Geeks by an ex-colleague.  Not that I'm particularly buddhist, but I am a little bit Silicon Valley and he wanted to draw a parallel with how I coach my software teams to deliver and the practice of mindfulness.  I had a click around and found an interesting podcast about behavioural design and how to build positive habits.  A study showed that even finding time for a two minute meditation each day, was more beneficial in establishing a regular meditation practice than setting aside more time less regularly.

I know that I will benefit from meditation if I manage to make time and space in my life to practice it.  So I decided its time to dust off the headspace meditation app I downloaded when I first got my iPhone and never really used past the first week.  I 'took ten' in the park when I was early to a lunch meeting yesterday and I felt SO much better. Given I wake naturally at stupid o'clock in the morning and take my temperature before going back to sleep, I'm going to try to spend ten minutes with the app in the morning.  Then I'll go back to sleep.

Mr Duncan won't even notice.

If that doesn't work, I'll have to take the brute force approach and enrol in a 10 day silent Vipassana retreat per the little hints I've been finding in my reading lately.

3 comments:

  1. Meditation is HARD! I too have tried many approaches. Maybe we can meet in a far off country and go to a Vipassana retreat together. A friend of mine just completed one in Peru.

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  2. Ha! We may just have to do that, I love exploring new places. Halfway would be Hawaii or Fiji. I'm also keen to visit South America sometime.

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  3. Meditation is difficult. I suspect it may help, but it is so hard to quiet the voices. Savasana does help, and the enforced nothing of acupuncture sessions has also helped.
    I do have a cd of meditations my acupuncturist gave me- a daytime one I never use and a night time one I did manage to get in the habit of using, once it was on my iPod. Very helpful with the relaxing, but I will admit I often fall asleep halfway through.

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