Baby steps in Meditation

The decision to give meditation a shot came when I saw an image in Pinterest that said, “You’d never know what you are missing in life until you meditate 20 minutes a day.” It was the beginning of January when I was eager to clean up my act so I thought “Why not?”

I did not exactly take to meditation like fish to water. I was (and am) suspicious. So here is what I learnt.

The beginning was the easiest. Pick a place, wear comfortable clothes, dim lights to a certain extent, make sure you are happy with the fan’s speed and the air conditioner’s settings and off you go to the land of deeply breathing in and slowly breathing out. You breathe slowly and all you think is “Woo hoo, look who is meditating” but with a calmer quieter inner voice. This is simplicity itself. I was sure that this is one of those things that I just did naturally well. The next day was even better but I was getting slightly aware that my lungs were not used to this workout and was asking me what the hell I was playing at.

But soon the power of concentration and meditation decreased. I don’t quite know why this was so. Maybe I was not approaching meditation with sufficient reverence anymore. I started getting hungry during meditation time. I hardly found the time and when I did find the time, it did not feel good anymore. I was losing the meditation mojo I already had.

I had to add a few more rules like light snacking before meditating and not attempting meditation when too sleepy. But what are the tangible benefits that I can speak off? Is it really worth my time to spend close to 20 minutes?

Frankly the main point of meditation seems to be that you are not checking Whatsapp messages or twitter feed or Facebook feed, so instead of the outside world telling the mind what to think, the mind is permitted to be itself. At this time my mind doesn’t become less active. It becomes more active and reviews the parts of my life that needs more thought. I remember friends I need to catch up with, I remember that it is high time I visited my dentist and I remember that it has been some time since I returned blogging. But I also get time to reflect that what someone said was probably not what they meant. I take time to read between the lines. Delightful parts of my childhood pops in and in this process the thoughts get in line and the innards of my mind appears to be clean and dust free.

Is there any practical use? Yes. As I was saying, commitments you have been procrastinating and pushing aside will haunt you more and you will get more done. You’d review yourself and that will result in small changes. Perhaps you will find that you consciously drink more water or that you consider keeping away from someone who has been a gossipy presence in your life. Or may be you’d decide to enroll yourself in a Karate class after all these years. I am not sure what you will change after you start meditating. But something will change.

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5 thoughts on “Baby steps in Meditation

  1. Ha! I was smiling throughout, reading this felt like talking to myself! I have tried and given up too..I wasn’t half as dedicated as you. These days I just aim to walk without looking at my phone. 😛

    Always good to read a post on your blog.

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  2. Nice post, Rahini. I especially liked your penultimate paragraph coz you talk about how you let your mind be instead of trying to curb the free association that was happening in your mind.

    I have been practicing yoga for the past 10 years. Here’s what I recently wrote about meditation:

    “2007 was the year that I started doing yoga. Rest assured that I am not going to pontificate on the benefits of yoga. But I will share an analogy that a yoga practitioner once shared with me. He said, “Imagine that you are on an interstate and you are traveling at 80 miles an hour. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you see a truck coming at you in the opposite direction, traveling in the wrong lane! You start pressing on your brake and realize that the brake isn’t working! Is that when you take your car to a mechanic? No, you need your car to be a well-oiled machine. Similarly…” Well, you catch his drift. I share this because I use to have this ill-informed belief that at the moment that I was going to erupt, if I could manage to somehow count to five or delay my response that I could manage to keep my temper in check. Let me just say that the car was clearly crashing into a truck quite often and insurance rates were skyrocketing! (Not literally, thankfully!)

    I can’t claim enough knowledge of meditation to establish a causative relationship. But a reasonably healthy diet and regular meditation have been integral parts of my life over the past few years. Keeping my temper in check (for the most part) allows me to love my near and dear more deeply, more thoughtfully, more gently. As mushy as it may sound, to lavish my loved ones with kind words and meaningful gestures is something that means a lot to me. If temper is a barricade in that journey that I share with my family and friends, then the least that I can do is to put my brakes on at the right time and swerve around it. And, yoga might not be your cup of tea. But I do sincerely believe that some sort of a sustained, disciplined method to focus on the self is a necessary ingredient of temper control.”

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  3. Ram, that is a very telling analogy. However, weirdly enough the main reason I was keeping away from meditation so far is it’s reputation as a cure for anger and anxiety.

    I actually get less angry and anxious than is good for me. I allow caustic people to say increasingly acidic things to me as I don’t get angry at the right time. It isn’t that I am too cowardly to talk back. I just think “Wow, what a terrible person, I wonder what that feels like” in a completely distant state of mind. And before I know it, worthless people are walking all over me.

    I am less prone to double check my work as I am not a very anxious person. So the quality of my output gets a hit.

    So these “benefits” were not getting me interested enough.

    I think this is similar to a thin person who does not watch what they eat and does not exercise enough as we are trained to believe that only overweight people need to workout or watch what they eat. That is a myth. And so is the belief that “calming” is meditation’s main benefit.

    Well it can well be it’s primary benefit. But certainly not the only one.

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  4. “That is a myth. And so is the belief that “calming” is meditation’s main benefit.”

    –> True. Which is why I hesitate to establish a causative relationship between my yoga and temper control. At the same time, I can’t deny the existence of a correlation. My close family and friends do tell me from time to time that I have been grown to be a calmer person in the last several years that I have been practicing yoga. So, I just let it be a part of my daily routine – in fact, my day starts with yoga – without wondering what I am getting out of it.

    “I actually get less angry and anxious than is good for me.”

    –> I think I definitely internalize more as I have grown older. But Sheena Iyengar has been a major influence on me. Her words – “Be choosy about choosing and you will choose well – have been a mantra of sorts for me. Thanks to her, I lose my cool or worry about my choices only when it is related to a core value/belief of mine. This is important to me coz this lets me not lose sleep over say a person’s caustic comment about my fascination for watches. I just laugh it off without reacting. But if someone say trivializes my sentiments towards a dear friend, I do react (sometimes in a calm manner, but not always so!). In between reacting and not reacting is one other type of reaction that I tend to exhibit – distancing myself from a person/issue…In essence, as I ‘choose’ more carefully the things I react to and how, I do feel like I have slowly lost the reputation of having a short fuse. People don’t tell me “Edhuku eduthaalum kovam varudhu unaku” anymore!

    Sorry to have gone off on a tangent but let me say that these are things that I meditate on! 🙂

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