Whenever I try to meditate I end up thinking am I doing this right?
I set the intention of being calm and in the moment. Within seconds, it seems like I have a dozen spots on my body that need to be scratched and my mind is thinking of ten conversations from the past and inventing five more for the future.
I’ve thought about seeking out a Buddhist temple in hopes of finding some sort of guru to guide me through proper meditation technique. But let’s face it- Amazon Prime just released a ton of HBO shows for free viewing. I’m not leaving my house for awhile. How can I bring more peace to my life without stepping beyond my doorstep?
I had a conversation about meditation with a friend of mine. She had a CD that walked her through meditative steps, guiding her breath and offering her suggestions for contemplation- such as “think of a time when someone has offered you forgiveness. Now forgive someone in your life.” Something along those lines anyway.
This past weekend, I had a hangout scheduled with some girlfriends, one of whom did not show up- Sarah. I was sure she would call or text to cancel, but she just never arrived at the gathering- which is unlike her.
Sarah had no way of knowing that this scenario would allow my obsessive nature to go into overdrive. My husband, for instance, might think it was unusual, but he would not allow it to take over his every thought.
Not me. I sent multiple texts. I called. I did everything short of standing outside her window with a boombox. My other friend texted Sarah’s husband to see if she was alright. He advised that Sarah was not feeling well. Ok, she’s alive, she’s alright- that should be that.
Wrong! I then had full license to wonder what had I done wrong. Why hadn’t Sarah shown up? Why was she avoiding me? I ran over every conversation we’d had in the last week, combing for any grain of sand I could expand into a boulder. Never did I stop to think Sarah must be really feeling bad to have not called to cancel. Maybe I should let her have some peace and time to relax. Nope- me, me, ME! Why is she making ME feel bad?
Since starting my quest to increase kindness, I have been thinking about my personal interactions with people. What can I do on a day to day basis to live a more kind life? The answer would seem to be to think of the needs of others as I would my own- not before mine, but to at least carry the same weight. That can be tough when you have a Me, Myself, and I mentality.
I finally heard from Sarah, and within a single text made the conversation about yours truly. Yes, common courtesy would have been to cancel. But Sarah is a very polite person. If she felt so bad that she didn’t have the energy to cancel, she must have been feeling pretty awful. Maybe she didn’t need a friend taking whatever peace she had gathered during the day and smashing it to bits.
Ironically, the whole day I had been thinking If I could just let her know I would have appreciated her cancelling, I would be able to let it go. I have talked myself into believing if I can voice whatever it is I’m thinking, I can get past it. But obsession doesn’t work that way. No sooner had I talked to her than I had a new conversation to make myself crazy with.
I might not be able to change who I am, but I hope I might learn how to control my reactions better. I thought of my friend and the meditation CD. Maybe I could learn how to meditate?
I began combing websites hoping to find a similar CD or MP3 to buy. I came across a few books, but I have meditation books. So far, they haven’t done much good for me. Then I came across a couple of articles, sort of a beginner’s guides to meditation.
A couple of tips really stuck out for me.
First, experiment with your body and allow movement. I am a very fidgety person. I am that asshole that has to adjust in her seat every two minutes at the movie theater. If you sit across from me at a table, you will notice my hands always roaming over my skin- it’s gross, but I’m looking for a bug bite to scratch or a piece of dead skin to flake. Hey, I said it was gross. With meditation, I always tried to remain still so that peace would wash over me. Being still is not natural to me, so why would it make me relaxed? I didn’t go crazy moving around, but I allowed myself to stretch and reach, finding an inner rhythm so I could focus my attention on something other than my skin.
Second, look at a candle. When I looked at the flame, I could be present in the moment. If I try to close my eyes, my brain takes over and thoughts come rushing in. The candle allowed me to focus and calm my bickering personality.
Third, start with 3-5 minutes. I believed meditation to be this long, involved ritual. If I didn’t have thirty minutes to devote, I didn’t do it. Last night, I really wanted to shut down and just watch TV. But I told myself I have five minutes to spend on this. At the end of the meditation, I felt more at peace.
Last, I tried to think in the terms my friend described she had heard on the CD- “think of someone who has forgiven you. Now forgive someone.” I came up with more than a few times I was a real asshole, and friends cut me some slack- things that were way worse than not sending a text to cancel. When I thought about how fortunate I was to have people who knew I was flawed but loved me anyway, it became easy to do what I had been trying to do all day- Let it go.
And now, if you don’t have that Frozen song in your head, I’m going to guess you don’t have kids. Let it go. Let it go-ooo