I love yoga. I’ve attended classes, built some stretches into my everyday life, and read books about it. I took it up after the birth of my first child when I had a bad back, and I’ve never stopped loving it. It’s like the ideal exercise for someone lazy and not very physical like me. I love the combination of poses and feeling ‘at one’ with life that it brings.
But I’ve been looking for more lately. The busyness of my mind racing at night, with thoughts and dreams I don’t want to have. The times I lose my patience with my children, when I want to be a calm and relaxed mum. The stories I’m working on that are whirring around my head. So, I’ve been thinking, I need to get into meditation more. I envy those relaxed souls sitting in the perfect lotus position, palms open, expressions of bliss on their faces.
And I’ve tried – believe me – every kind of meditation going at some point. Then, last week, I decided to visit a spiritual meditation class. I’d been toying with it for some time, but was put off as it looked a bit, well, er…spiritual. Paradoxically, I want to feel more spiritual, yet my Western sensibilities mean I baulk at the idea of sitting chanting with complete strangers.
Anyway, I finally plucked up the nerve to attend a class, and had a couple of volunteers fiddle around with my chakras. Mmm…trying to keep an open mind, I had to be honest and say I couldn’t honestly feel the effects they were expecting, though I did feel calm and relaxed after sitting still for 15 minutes. They seemed a little disappointed with me, and in my usual fashion, I struggled to try and ‘feel’ the release of energy they’d been working on, just to please them.
I left the session, feeling happy and relaxed, but unsure why. Reading the brochure I was given at the session, I just couldn’t see myself going back there, as the meditations involved heavily chanting to a picture of the ‘Guru’. I found it too much. But I couldn’t shake the fact that I’d felt so relaxed.
Then, this morning, I went for a lovely long walk in the woods, and ended by sitting high above the farmer’s fields around my home, where all I could see were lambs and sheep, and trees surrounding me. I drank in the view, then sat with my eyes closed, listening to the birds and distant traffic hum.
And that’s when the same peaceful, calm feeling of happiness – Bliss if you will – hit me. I realised for the first time that I don’t need to follow a prescribed ideal of meditating. I’ve been seeing meditation all wrong up to now; I’ve seen it as another job to get done. Another tick on my to-do list.
Practising yoga for years reminds me I still can’t get into a perfect lotus position, but that doesn’t stop me practising and loving it. The fact I’d felt so happy last week after the chakra balancing class was probably more to do with the fact that I’d surrendered my racing thoughts from problems, to-do lists and guilty thoughts for 15 minutes, and just sat. I’d allowed myself to just ‘be’ – and that was exactly what I’d needed.
So, I’m throwing out the meditation guidebooks; I’m doing Mindfulness my own way from now on. By walking and feeling part of nature. By practising the yoga poses I’m imperfect at. By actually stopping to look at things – a flower, a lamb, my daughters – and appreciating them. I’m stopping and just sitting still for a few minutes when I can, and I’m respecting myself and my body and, far more importantly for me, my mind. I’m human. We have enough day to day issues to contend with, without putting on pressure to ‘Be Mindful’ 24/7.
I’m doing Mindfulness my own way now. No pressure. How about you?