I had my first experience with meditation when I was about 12. I can’t quite remember it all but there was some yoga and some breathing and some stillness. Later, in my early 20s my girlfriends and I started to go to Buddhist meditation classes at the nearest temple on a Sunday morning. We were often hungover, sometimes a bit giggly but walked away feeling pretty good, but the habit didn’t seem to stick.
I got into yoga and enjoyed being able to lay down at the end of a pretty sweaty intense session. Sometimes I think I even nailed the meditation – I stayed present, focused on my breath and walked away feeling pretty serene, but I still wouldn’t have called myself a meditator (in fact I barely called myself a yogi).
It wasn’t until I did my yoga teacher training that things began to change. I loved focusing on the poses, the alignment and the biomechanics. I enjoyed learning about chakras and yogic theory, was intrigued by metaphysics and didn’t hate learning children’s and pregnancy yoga. But meditation, well that was an entirely different story.
The day of our meditation workshop we were told we would end the day with a 30 minute (that’s half an hour you guys), silent, still seated meditation. Cross legged on the hard floor, not moving an inch. I’d done a tonne of 5 and 10 minute meditations previously - different styles and techniques, but nothing as full on as that. My brain went into panic mode. It resisted hard. I started thinking of what excuses I could use to leave – a sick relative? A pet emergency? Seriously, there was a part of me that wanted to run away as fast as I could. Apparently 30 minutes of stillness was completely and utterly petrifying to me!
Somehow I managed to stay. Whether it was my desire not to offend someone, or some deeper wisdom taking charge, or simply my lack of a plausible excuse (I didn’t think a sick cat would quite cut it) I didn’t leave. I sat, my leg went to sleep and suffice to say, it was amazing. I was on a high – I felt incredible, and then I wondered, why had I resisted so hard?
You see, that voice begging me to leave, thinking up excuses, resisting as hard as it could was my ego. It’s the part of your mind that you have no control of – it’s the thoughts that just keep coming, that spiral out of control and ultimately make you miserable. Your ego tells you that you aren’t good enough exactly as you are. It tells you that you’re not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough or likeable enough. It tells you that you will be happy at some point in the future, but never now. It needs you to get that promotion, that house, that car, that dress, to lose 5kg, to find a girlfriend, to have more money. It needs you to always want, strive, desire and covet. In short, it is never satisfied, it is never happy and it is in control.
Until you learn to meditate. Regularly.
You see, it’s not you who is scared of meditation. Your inner self, your soul, your divine centre loves meditation. It knows that meditation – time to be present, still and connected is what you ultimately need. It’s your ego, the part of you that prevents happiness that is scared.
Ego resistance is good. It shows you that you are on the right track. When your ego starts complaining, freaking out and urging you to run, that’s when you need to stay the most. Rather than listening to it, imagine a small child who is chucking a temper tantrum. You are in control, you are the boss and you are the one who makes the choice to be happy.
So now? Now I meditate every single day. Sometimes it’s only for a minute or two, sometimes for 20. Sometimes it feels great and other times it’s a disaster. My ego hasn’t gone away, it’s still there, still trying to call the shots. These days though, instead of listening, I get to laugh. I’m probably 10% happier, 10% calmer and 10% happier. For me, that’s something I wouldn’t give up for the world and something that is surely worth a few moments of stillness every day!
If you want to learn to meditate, why not join one of our Meditation Foundation classes? They currently run on Thursday nights at 5:30pm and Friday lunchtimes at 1:00pm. We do a little stretching, a little talking and a couple of mini meditations. Ignore that ego and give it a go!
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