Journey in meditation
Several weeks ago, I decided to try this “meditating thing.” I started with “a beginners mind.” I googled various forms of meditation, and eventually just committed to doing 2 minutes a day to start. I set a timer on my phone, and focused on my breath, counting 1 on the in breath and 2 on the out, up to ten, then started again. At first, my mind continued to race, and complain, and think, and try to list all the things I should be doing. I felt angry, frustrated, tense, and actually at times, an urge to cry… Little voices screamed in my head “this is so stupid!” “I don’t have time for this! Overall, it seems my brain, was much like a three year old child that never had a bedtime; when told it it was time to get quiet and just power down, for the first few days, it threw a fit and tried everything to keep bouncing! I read some more. “Be gentle with yourself. Guide your mind back to your breath, and just be patient and persistent.”
Almost immediately, I noted that during my workday I was slightly less reactive. Only slightly, but this was a big deal for me having spent years in the grips of depression, anxiety and potentially one of the most defensive people I know. One evening I went to the grocery store: normally a ‘get in and get out’ kind of girl generally easily annoyed by people, I surprised myself by the relaxed state I was in, and the fact I actually made eye contact and smiled at a couple of people. Just shy of two weeks in, and at this point doing still less than 10 minute sessions (occasionally split into mini meditations of two minutes throughout the day) I went to a crowded restaurant. The service was slow, I was really hungry, and it was loud: a situation that normally, would have caused and justified frowns, complaints and snappiness, I found I was totally at peace. On my way back from the restroom, an elderly gentleman was walking in front of me at a snails pace, and while I’m ashamed to admit it, this also normally would have been an irritation: on this night though, I had patience and compassion and thought “that’s someone’s grandpa. I send him love.”
The fifth week after starting this journey, some quite profound things began to shift. I had a performance evaluation with a superior that I have had a great deal of tension and past issues with. The meeting started as others had, but the self talk in my head was completely different; it said “despite what is being said, you’re a good person, good at your job, and at the end of this meeting, one way or another you will be ok.” Somehow, as if miraculously, the entire energy in the room shifted; an hour and a half later, the entire relationship felt different and I left the meeting feeling like this was the most positive interaction we had ever had.
I visited with my grandmother, who I had not spoken to for several months due to several personal and family disputes; we had a good visit, during which she began to steer the conversation to other family members she had issues with. In the past, this was grounds to get angry, defensive, protective, and my reaction would have either ended the visit, or turned into total conflict. This time however, I calmly, yet firmly drew a boundary: “we’re not going there. Its in the past, it doesn’t concern me, and it doesn’t matter.” In the days that followed, I received a message from another family member who I had not spoken to in almost two years. This to, now felt different and lead to an hour conversation. These little changes continued when another long-lost friend who I had had a falling out with almost five years prior, also “requested” my friendship on Facebook and we began interacting and joking as if not a day had past.
I’m not saying I went from being miss anxious and snappy to being a saint, but definitely some noticeable improvements a significant portion of the time. I guess when you finally get that toddler to rest… he’s refreshed and in a better mood the rest of the day!