Sometimes the Universe conspires to send a clear message. For several years it felt like every book I read and every health advisor in my posse would at one time or another be telling me that meditation was the key to making transformational life changes. It was met with resistance: I was good at that.
There’s no doubt that the growing body of evidence suggesting the powerful benefits of meditation – even just ten minutes per day – is absolutely compelling. From a scientific point of view, the practice of meditation has been shown to enhance immunity; create a more positive mindset; expand the higher-functioning regions of the brain; protect against age-related DNA damage and improve overall health. You’d think we’d all be sitting on meditation cushions 24/7 with the promises of those benefits, wouldn’t you?
Side note – did you know that the World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020 depression will be the underlying cause of most disease? Something to think about.
Whilst there is a growing list of celebrity A-listers sanctioning meditation as the cornerstone of their daily practice, it is not quite “mainstream”. Having said that, gone are the days when the idea of meditation was shrouded in some sort of cloak of mystery; some sort of New Age, spirituality woo woo. It is certainly catching on (Another side note – how incredible that I would say it is “catching on”. It’s been around for thousands of years. Maybe I should suggest that we are rediscovering it). In fact there are many schools teaching meditation principles to their students, which I think is the best news ever.
What made me finally take action?
Over the Summer holidays I read Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth. That incredible book needs a post all of its own. For now, just believe me that for everyone I know that has read A New Earth it has made a profound and lasting impact. After reading it I was crystal clear that my personal themes for 2015 were presence and acceptance. To achieve presence, I needed to… (surprise) meditate.
How was I going to make it actually happen?
I’m a Virgo. I love a good list. And I love it even more when I get to cross things off my list. So I made a decision that I was going to experiment with 60 days of meditation. I told myself that I didn’t have to do it every single day but I did need to aim for at least 5 days per week. I created a table of 60 days and got to work on ticking off the days when I’d given meditation a go. I also kept a journal and tracked how I was feeling to see if I could see patterns emerging.
I began by explaining to the family what it meant for me to be meditating and that whilst I am in my special space, please try your best not to interrupt.
To begin, I chose a “mindful meditation” approach (this is a great infographic summarising different meditation types). Mindful meditation is “focused attention and awareness of the present moment by watching your natural breath and natural occurring thoughts”. It’s a miracle that I didn’t promptly give up – turns out that striking numbers off a list is pretty motivating for me! In my journal after my seventh meditation I wrote, “If I had $1 for every random thought that came to me during that meditation I’d never have to work again”. Disjointed, random thoughts were the order of the day. Day after day.
A couple of weeks in to my experiment I decided to embrace guided meditations. I collated a variety of meditations in my iTunes library and began choosing ones I felt like trying on a daily basis. A guided meditation is described as, “a relaxing meditation where someone guides your body and mind into deep relaxation through mental imagery and spoken word”.
Aaaaaaaahhhh, that’s better for me.
The phases of my meditation experience, so far:
1. Creating discipline
At the beginning, my goal was to just create a new habit; to carve out the time and commit to the experiment. A few things helped me remain devoted:
- Mindset: my goal was to conduct an experiment. I didn’t go into meditation thinking that I had to commit for the rest of my life; I was just aiming to see what happened after 60 days. No pressure.
- Setting a time: I knew I needed to create more time to fit in meditation. So I set the alarm 45 minutes earlier. Easy in Summer…
- Journaling: writing about my practice enabled me to consciously acknowledge the experience I was having. And I started to notice changes in my perceptions, which motivated me to keep experimenting.
- List and cross: as I have explained, setting myself a target and crossing off my progress is in itself very motivating for me.
2. Enjoying relaxation
Over time I began to notice an all-over feeling of comfort. It is a heavy, warm feeling that has a certain cosiness which has become so moorish. I began to look forward to meditation, in order to access that soothing feeling again.
3. Looking inward
And then I started noticing that I was processing and responding to life experiences differently. This is where magic starts to happen. And this is why meditation is no longer an experiment.
Next week I’ll post Part Two of this story: a look at what’s different about my life these days as well as the tangible evidence that proved to me I wasn’t just imagining that a transformation has occurred.
Are there any Universal messages that you are resisting right now? Is meditation something on your curiosity list? Or do you have a strong meditation practice? I’d love to hear about how you remain devoted. And – as always – please feel free to ask any questions or offer any remarks in the comments section below.
Meditation has changed my life and is the single most important tool I have in my wellness kit. It absolutely helps me feel wildly wealthy, fabulously healthy and bursting with love and you can have that too. All you have to do is stop, drop and mediate. Melissa Ambrosini