I’ve been anticipating my first meditation exercise for a long time. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for about a year now, but haven’t gotten around to it due to the business of life. That’s why this is the challenge I’ve been most looking forward to. I’m a reader, so naturally when I knew I was going to try meditation for the first time, I bought some books. I don’t understand anything about it! I don’t get what I’ll actually be doing, what I’m supposed to think about (am I supposed to be thinking at all while I’m doing it?), how it’s supposed to make me feel…
I play the CD that came with one of my new books. This is supposed to be a simple 10 minute breathing meditation. My only job now is to follow the breath. In…Out…In…Out… All of a sudden, my mind is interjecting with its own commentary: My back hurts. I’m hungry. Wow, this position really hurts my back. Why didn’t I eat something before I did this? Uhh…it’s getting pretty hot in here. Oh yea—my breath. In…Out…How much time is left? WHAT! It’s only been less than 2 minutes? Uhh… I didn’t end feeling very good about myself; actually, I think I ended in a worse mood than when I started. I tried it maybe one other time, hardly yielding better results. And so, I gave it a rest for a while.
Another day, I picked up a different book I had bought. And YES—this one spoke to me! I felt it gave me real insight into what is going on with meditation. I simply sat down where I was, crossed my legs and meditated… At first, I was supposed to cultivate mindfulness. Just listen to the goings-on around you. I listened receptively to the sounds, and I felt like this helped to give me a good foundation. Then I focused on my breath. I realized that I had been trying to force my breath harder through my diaphragm the first couple times, so now I breathed softer, like normal. I found that my soft breath infused me with calmness when I focused on it. It was about observing the normal happenings within and around you. I felt wonderful during this meditation—like I was moving toward a frame of peace. Afterwards, I felt a kindness and receptiveness in my soul to whatever the world had to offer that night, and the feeling stayed with me until I went to bed.
Of course, I understand that not all meditations are going to go like this one. Sometimes it’s going to be a struggle. But sometimes it will feel like this one. You just never know what’s going to happen! And if it happens to be a struggle one today, it’s only temporary…and be compassionate to yourself. Give yourself points for trying, and for sticking with it. This is the best thing you can do! And continue to try again…
The book I particularly enjoyed was Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield.