I was late to the meditation game. I was first exposed to the idea in the late 90s when I was grieving my daughter’s death. My therapist recommended it and I gave it my best. My best consisted of sitting/laying in bed, trying to “focus on my breath” and achieving one of two outcomes: Getting completely carried away in thoughts, or falling back to sleep. I didn’t get it.
Fast forward after reading James Clear’s powerful book Atomic Habits in 2017, I put his methods to the test. Atomic Habits is a “how to” guide on installing or deleting habits. Clear (in addition to other writers with expertise on the subject) suggests that if you want to install a habit, consistency is more important than intensity. Make the new habit so easy, you can’t fail. Then follow the momentum by making incremental gains.
So I set an intention to meditate for one minute every morning. Eventually that expanded to 10 minutes. Over the years I have trained myself to meditate for longer periods than that, but for some reason 10 ish minutes seems to be the right amount of time for me.
I read somewhere that (paraphrasing) “Meditation is not about UN-Plugging, it’s about Plugging In.” Hmmm. I thought it was a way to “check out” or “get a break” from reality.
Quite the opposite. Speaking now from my own experience, meditation is about going deep and slowing our minds down. It’s about training our minds to NOT be captive to all of the thoughts that run rampant when we DO slow down. It’s about being here, now.
There are endless resources to learn about meditation if you are so inspired. But it can be challenging to commit to a disciplined practice if you haven’t reaped the benefits yet.
The best way I can describe my own practice is this: It’s like going under water, where you can still hear things but they are muted. There is a calm, slowed energy that takes over the noise and endless stimuli in our environment. I am confident this is an idiosyncratic experience and we all have our own unique manifestations of the practice, there is no “right” way or “perfect” practice.
I am sharing this concept because my meditation practice brings me great peace, although it took 2 decades for me to actually dive in. It’s not about an escape, but rather a presence, showing up in the current moment, just as it is. Plugging In to what is here, and now with acceptance and non-attachment and setting my mind at the start of the day.
If you have dabbled with meditation and not seen the point, don’t give up! Try setting aside one minute per morning for a month or two, and look for evidence that “plugging in” before you go out into the world has an impact on your day and how you respond to it.
PS: A kitchen timer is a great way to capture and expand your time so you are not holding your phone, or looking at the clock.