Recently, an unusually trying day at work left me feeling mentally weighed down. I tried to shake the thoughts of self doubt on my ride home, but the usual things – cranking up the music and rolling down the windows – were not enough to stop my mind from replaying the day’s events. Twenty minutes later at home, my place of safety and comfort, I wasn’t able to replenish my depleted mental energy. I knew that I needed to put it behind me, recharge my batteries, and let tomorrow take its time getting here. So I did what I’ve never done before: I meditated.
Or should I say I attempted to meditate. It felt like the hardest thing in the world to control my thinking and bring all attention to my breathing. All I could think about was how I must be doing it all wrong. And how I had so much to do that evening. And that I didn’t realize how active my mind was. It was beyond frustrating and I felt like there was a fight going on in my mind: my thoughts were running rampant and this other force was trying to squash them, suffocate them. Even so, I stuck with it and decided I would try to make it part of my routine — I could manage five minutes a day.
The funny thing about meditation (at least for me), is you don’t remember that it’s an important activity to add to your day until you have a day that leaves you feeling like you really need to meditate. Like when you discover you’re thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated. I want to meditate so that I develop the skills for being able to bring my mind to a place of calm instantly when it will matter down the road, like a stressful day, a catastrophic event, etc.
Naturally, most days I forget to meditate, so I’m working on scheduling it in. When I’ve got a few minutes alone to myself, usually after work while I’m heading into the second half of my day, that is the time I need to quiet my mind and clear my head. My strategy is to make the process positive, inhaling while mentally saying the world “calm” and exhaling while saying the word “love.” I think of it as bringing calm into my being and releasing love into the world. When my attention wanders and it’s difficult to stay on those two words, I give each breath a new word, such as stillness, reawakening, peace, strength, quiet. A person who has mastered the art of meditation may say that I’m cheating, but eventually, to my surprise, I forget that I’m sitting there. I’m practically awakened out of a trance.
I don’t plan on being someone who meditates for hours at a time, but I would love to get to a place where I can turn off my internal stop watch and just exist. I’d like to feel as though I can put something aside and make room in my mind to carry on with my day. I’m a beginner still, but in the busy world I live in, and the hectic schedule I create for myself, making time for mediation – and making room for it in my mind – is one way to make room for more living – real, true living – in each and every day.