I have read about and tried meditating dozens of times in my life but never really “got it.” It turns out not only was I doing it wrong when I tried to meditate, but I have actually been meditating all my life without realizing what I was doing.
My understanding of meditating was to “clear your thoughts” and focus on a mantra (like OOOOHHHMMMM) and suddenly some magical inspiration would pop into your head – kinda akin to your life’s purpose.
Attending a little presentation on meditation last week, it all became clear. I wish I remembered the speaker’s name because she finally explained it in a way that made it clear. It wasn’t even her words that did it. When we went through an exercise and I got where she instructed, I recognized the place. I had been there many times before.
It’s not about turning off your mind. It’s about turning off the voice inside your head and focusing on what is happening right now. I’ve been doing that all my life!
When I am stressed. When I have a problem that needs to be attacked. When I am just juggling which of the 100 to-do items I should begin. I force myself to stop the chatter inside, and listen for something else. I focus on the sound of a distant bird tweeting. I focus on the sound of the clock ticking. I focus on the sound of the ceiling fan blades. When I do this, the internal conversation immediately ends and I am in the now. (Again, I didn’t have a term for it before… I just did it.)
When I am present in that current moment, I feel happiness. It comes spreading across my chest. It is that same feeling that happens when you see someone you love coming around a corner toward you, a baby smiling, a puppy romping in the grass. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy all the time – I turn that on anytime I am feeling overwhelmed. I’ve been doing it all along and not even noticing what I was tapping into.
It is not something I ever set out to do intentionally. I don’t sit cross-legged, close my eyes, and start chanting, I just find myself stepping off the mental treadmill and checking out for a bit. I don’t zone out and can still carry on conversations, do things etc. I just disconnect from negative thoughts shoving them out of my consciousness.
What are your experiences with meditation? Think it’s all hippy-dippy hoodoo? Does it work for you?
by Chris Doelle
Also published on Medium.