I’ve skirted around the idea of meditation for several years now.
I’ve given it a go plenty of times but for some reason or another, I’ve never really GOT it, you know? I’d sit, for thirty minutes or so, literally wanting to rip my own head off, completely overwhelmed with all the thoughts racing through my mind. The thoughts I believed I shouldn’t be having that went like this:
“I am so focused right now and oh, this feels so great, I’m meditating and hmm, maybe I should also do more yoga and drink green tea and I really need to add coconut milk to the shopping list and call my Nanna and shit, is the cat still outside? I haven’t seen her all day. Maybe she’s run away, I should probably go look for her, oh I’m supposed to be meditating I am so bad at this, just concentrate on breathing, there that’s it, juuuust focus on the rise and fall of your breathing and I really feel like eating some chocolate cake I wonder how long it will take for me to walk to the shop and buy some chocolate cake and for crying out loud why is meditation so hard and argh my leg hurts and oh, fuck it, I’m fed up of this, I’m going to go and make a coffee.”
Arriving in Germany, just over two months ago, I decided that I wanted to pick up where I had left off with my meditation practice and really give it a go this time. And so, I did what I always do when something is fundamentally good for me: I procrastinated like a pro.
Procrastinating like a pro mostly looked like downloading meditation apps on my iPhone and scouring the Internet for a meditation cushion. It also involved following meditation teachers on Instagram and visualising myself sitting in my meditation corner, wearing all white, eyes-closed, hands on knees, looking calm and serene, just like they did. This time, I would be a proper meditator!
And so I waited. For the perfect moment to come along. When all would be meditate-y enough for me to start. Maybe I would even receive a sign? A feather perhaps, that I would find on my daily walk, that would herald the beginning of my meditation journey. I dedicated an entire playlist in iTunes to meditation music. Think: pan pipes and violins and those little cymbal things and harps. I was so ready. More than ready! I just needed to find the right meditation cushion, and then I’d start.
Turns out, I never found the perfect meditation cushion. Because, fuck, they all just looked like regular cushions but with sequins and elephants on them. And really? The perfect meditation cushion could have arrived at my house, hand-delieverd by Buddha himself, and it still wouldn’t have been right. Because, of course, this had nothing to do with finding the perfect meditation cushion and everything to do with being too scared to start. Because once I started, it might mean that I would be really shit at meditating again and this would mean I would be disappointed and I didn’t want to be disappointed.
And so, I did what I always do when I uncover the real reason I’m stalling on something. I called myself out on my own shit and made myself start, kicking and screaming, right there and then. I closed the door of my bedroom and sat on the nearest thing that resembled something comfortable to sit on. Turns out that this was the laptop cushion thing I use when I’m writing in bed. I bought it from IKEA last month for 5 Euros. I turned it upside down and voila! I had a mediation cushion. I put my earphones in and chose a meditation from one of the apps I’d downloaded.
I told myself that I only had to meditate for one minute. Just one minute. That’s it. If, after one minute, I wanted to get up and switch off the meditation, I could. It’s a trick that has worked for me time and time again when I have a training run to do and it’s raining or you know, I just don’t feel like running, because who does? I give myself permission to come home if after five minutes, I still don’t want to run.
One minute of meditation. That’s all. I knew I could do this.
I managed to meditate that evening for six minutes in total. The pressure was off, you see. There was no “I’m going to meditate for thirty minutes and feel so serene and wonderful” this time, because I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t feel that way.
Each day since then, I’ve committed to meditating for just one minute or however long feels good to me. Last night, I actually meditated for fifteen minutes and didn’t want to gauge my eyes out once. AND I wasn’t wearing all white. In fact, I was wearing my favourite pyjamas.
Turns out you don’t need fancy meditation cushions and a playlist of chanting monks and positive affirmations.
You just need to start.
Wherever you are.
(Even if you’re wearing your pyjamas).
What is it that you’ve been putting off starting? And can you commit to just one minute?