Meditation is essential to my life. It wasn't always that way.
I've flirted with meditation for years, starting at the age of 23. Living in San Francisco at the time, I was introduced to TM (otherwise know as Transcendental Meditation -- yes, the one made famous by the Beatles). It scared me a little, because I didn't understand how it worked. It seemed almost mystical. I'd read all the research and was impressed by the long list of incredible, positive things it was said to address, including anxiety and stress, while generally promoting tranquility in a hectic life.
The promise of all of that was intriguing, but it took me another three years before I went back and actually took a class. From that moment, I sensed something shifting, but my mind continued to resist. I was skeptical. How could meditation possibly do all of these things? Could it really be that easy?
Because I struggled with panic attacks and chronic anxiety, just picking up meditation here and there helped immensely, but only for short periods of time. Soon after feeling better, I would revert back to old behaviors. I found it difficult to sit still for 20 minutes consistently, twice a day. Sometimes the time flew by, and other times I couldn't bear to sit in the silence, alone with my non-stop internal dialog. My thoughts lined up, one after the other, like planes on a runway at takeoff.
I lost patience in those moments, so meditation went back on the shelf, and I continued to flirt with it for the next 10 years. I brought it out only when I felt I needed it most. Each time I tried something new -- a guided mediation, breathing meditation, TM or even walking meditation. They all made me feel grounded and calm, but I could never commit to a regular practice.
In the midst of creating my company and leaping into a new career, I finally got serious. I listened to my instinct and committed to my meditation practice. I have meditated almost everyday since. When I have missed a day here and there, I really notice the difference. I can feel something's absent and I get right back to it the following day. Since I'm running a business, my schedule is so limited that if I have to choose between meditation or a workout, I choose meditation nine times out of 10.
I make this choice everyday because of the benefits I feel in my life through meditating. First and foremost, meditation calms me. It slows everything down. Whatever is going on in my life at that exact moment just stops. It allows me to breathe consciously and just Be. It doesn't stop the thoughts, and it shouldn't. They continue, but I witness them rather than react to them. I just allow them to float through my mind as I repeat my mantra. Sometimes the feeling I get can be deep, powerful, and spiritual, which offers great clarity. Other times, I feel refreshed, as if I took a quick power nap, but I always feel calm and grounded.
For me, becoming a meditator has been a deep learning process. It wasn't something I picked up and loved immediately, even though I knew it was good for me. It took time and lots of patience with myself to get to this point. I have much more inner calm and an ability to trust myself. It's helped me make choices to live my life in a way that's right for me. Meditation is essential to my life.
I know that I will meditate for the rest of my life. In fact, I've decided to deepen my own practice by training to become a meditation teacher. I'm going in with no expectations, just an open mind to learn more about myself.
Meditation is a personal experience, and everyone's path is different. I encourage you to stick with it, even if you want to give up. Remember it's a practice. If you don't get it on the first, second or even third try, it's OK, don't get too frustrated. It may mean you just haven't found the type of meditation that works for you, and you need to experiment further. Like anything worthwhile in life, the benefits will develop over time.
Let go and trust yourself.
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