I’ve gotten good at sitting with myself, but meditation was a practice whose benefits eluded me. It’s been a long road to even get to this space where I can talk about it. When I started it felt like my mind was screaming. I was numb and couldn’t feel my body when I closed my eyes. I disappeared. I started by following Eckhart Tolle’s guidance in The Power of Now to “Direct your attention into the body. Feel it from within.” I focused on feeling my hands for months. As I progressed my mind kept railing against my efforts. I would get so caught in every reaction my body had to every possible perceptible bit of sensory stimulation. That car that drove by in the distance? Fuck that loud car. The smells of the relaxing oil blend in my diffuser? Huge headache. The grumble in my stomach? Starvation or the stomach flu, right? It had to be. It went on and on and on. My clothes bothered me. My back hurt. Too tired. Too hungry. Too interrupted. Too distracted.
My self-set idea of meditation had me believe that I needed to sit silently in stoic seriousness without movement or thought. This was a mind-control exercise and I was failing. There was already a pretty profound split between my mind and body and this made everything more intense as my mind fought all my body was feeling and my body fought all my mind was thinking. It was only when I abandoned my belief about how my meditation should look that I was able to move forward mindfully and just sit while feeling, thinking and hearing everything. I learned to sit to study the thoughts and feelings I have and take note of the flow. It isn’t about controlling all that there is, it’s about strengthening my response to all that there is. Changing my approach helped me heal my deeply embedded beliefs that I was broken in both mind and body and incapable of reaping the benefits of a daily practice. The shift resulted in a lowering of a barrier to reconnecting to my body and my intuition.
We are all at various places on our journeys, but what happens when you sit and close your eyes? What do you hope to gain from your meditation practice?