Some of you will recall that I took several months of meditation classes a year or so ago. It didn’t really stick. The classes themselves were interesting and the teacher was wonderful, but after sitting for 45 minutes at a time willing my brain to shut up, I felt more exasperated then refreshed. And the women in my class all seemed to be getting more out of it. When we would regroup afterwards they would discuss colours they’d seen and feelings of peace and calm that they’d achieved. I was planning grocery lists and thinking about all the things I could be doing instead of sitting on the floor trying not to think about sitting on the floor.
After a few months, I gave up the class and put mediation on the back burner. But it still nagged at me that I should consider going back to it. I know people who have had wonderful results and I’d been advised many times that with my personality type I would benefit from it. So when I read Amber Strocel’s wonderful, funny blog about her own meditation experiences, I decided if she could come up with five minutes to mediate, so could I – and it’s working a little better this time.
One of Amber’s readers left a comment about an app that she was using to help her meditate called the Insight Timer. It’s really a simple concept, but I loved it – you set the app for when you want to start meditating, tell it how long you want to meditate for and set up a number of bells that will toll when you reach certain milestones. For me, this was a great option. No longer did I have to worry that I was going to meditate for too long and run late or that I would fall asleep and end up being late for work. I could set the timer and relax. The bells are also really soothing and meditative, so you get a much nicer experience than if you were using the microwave timer (believe me, that is not a good way to end a relaxing meditation session) and I’m able to let go more.
I’ve also started at ten minutes. In class we would do 30-45 and that just seemed way too long for me to stop thinking. Perhaps if we had worked up to it, I could manage it, but right off the top? No way. So that’s the premise I’m working from – trying to clear my head for ten minutes every morning. I wake up, shower, go downstairs and sit down on my pillow on the floor. I set the timer, clear my mind, relax and breathe. The first bell peels to signal the start, the second to signal the midway point and then the final bell means that the session has ended.
For the most part, I love it. I find ten minutes works well for me – I am able to clear my mind more or less and let a lot of the thoughts that creep in just float away. Of course, one morning one of my cats decided to try and rip up the couch during my ten minute session, so that one was a wash. Usually I can even block out crazy cat noises while I’m working on meditating – provided no destruction of furniture comes into play.
Is it helping? I think so. I feel calmer afterwards, less stressed by all that I have to accomplish in the morning and less overwhelmed. Does it last all day? Not really, but I feel like it’s a start. And I like the idea of training my mind to do something like this. Maybe I’ll start to feel a little more zen-like once I’ve been at it a little longer.
Have you ever meditated? Were you able to shut off your brain? What worked for you?