What I Learned From Abundance Meditation
Simple practices such as meditation can have huge effects on your health, from improving memory, self awareness and even coping with the stress and anxiety related to Zoom fatigue. However, there are many barriers that may prevent you from even trying it out, I was surprised to find that one of mine was doubting that I was doing it ‘right’.
Barriers to Starting to Meditate
I always thought it would be quite nice to meditate – finding those calm, serene, tranquil moments in life held a lot of appeal. But then the next thought to pop into my head would be “How long do I have to sit still?”
In fact, for me, whenever the topic of meditation came up there was a swirl of accompanying thoughts and worries.
For starters I believed I was far too fidgety for meditation. And beneath that was the worry that I’d find it a bit dull and be trapped in a tedious class. Then there was the judgement – I wasn’t the same as the people I met who practiced meditation. An occasional slightly self-conscious ‘om’ in yoga seemed to be the limit of my willingness to chant. Clearly, I would need to change some part of myself, be better, if I wanted to do it. Finally came the self-imposed pressure – if I was going to meditate, then I wanted to ‘get it right’.
My Experience of 21 Days of Meditation
With all this in my head it’s not surprising that I never even got started. Then last year something changed. There was an upset to my everyday circumstances driven by the health-challenging-trilogy of COVID-19, lockdown and furlough. I think this must have had some influence on my state of mind, because when an invitation to join a What’sApp group arrived, and do 3 weeks of abundance meditation, I received it with an open mind and said ‘Yes, I’ll give it a go!’
So for 3 weeks I mentally wriggled and squirmed as I completed the daily exercises, exploring my thoughts about and relationships with family, friends, money, wealth and prosperity; considering the goals and limitations that I believed were appropriate for myself.
And for 3 weeks I either sat or lay down to meditate.
Sometimes I had a busy head and spent all the time catching my thoughts and recognising that I was ignoring my breath. A few times it felt like I was all breath and no thought, which was pretty nifty. Occasionally I fell asleep. In some instances I was eager to start my day with the exercise and meditation, and see if my thoughts or actions shifted as a result. Sometimes the day got away from me and I rushed through the written exercises and squeezed in the meditation just before going to bed.
Each meditation took as long as needed; in the end I looked forward to the rich, accented tones of the guide, who reassured me ‘I’ll mind the time’.
When I made it to the final day I felt incredibly pleased with myself and a little nostalgic. Each day I’d set aside time for an exercise and meditation, and allowed myself to be guided. By the time I completed this 21-day abundance meditation challenge I was positive that I would be revisiting it again.
“I Don’t Know How To Meditate!”
But there’s something about this whole experience which is quite surprising.
I was writing an article to coincide with World Meditation Day (21st May) and was fascinated by the research on a new work-related health issue, Zoom fatigue (or virtual fatigue). There was a study suggesting that doing a short meditative practice between virtual meetings could help alleviate some of the symptoms. You could practice meditation for stress or meditation for anxiety and feel less affected by back-to-back meetings at work. However, as I tried to relate to this from a personal angle two thoughts occurred: I don’t have back-to-back meetings on Zoom and I don’t know how to meditate.
A whole night passed before I woke and thought: Wait! What? I DO know how to meditate.
Why It’s All Down To Your Perspective
For some unexpected reason I still felt that I didn’t know how to meditate. But in fact, I did sit daily and meditate for 21 days in a row. While it may have been several months ago, and my memory recall may not be elephantine, why would I misremember this detail for so long?
I believe this ties in with our beautiful brains and the inherent isolation that lies within each of us. It relates to the aspect of mental awareness and processing where if 100 people were asked to recall a particular incident, you’d receive 100 slightly different accounts about the event which took place. Your cognitive processes mean that all of life is based on your sole perspective.
So, in terms of meditation, I actually have no idea what happens when someone else meditates, or what they actually mean when they say what happens for them. They could tell me all about it, but any description goes through so many filters. There’s their perception and interpretation of what’s going on; their translation in to a verbal description; my listening skills; my interpretation and imagining of their words.
Despite being aware of this I was still making comparisons and was giving weight to a sticky-belief: that my experience of meditation somehow wasn’t kosher. Well I did fall asleep and couldn’t stop my mind from constantly whirring. That’s not how it should be done! So, despite completing a lovely 21-day challenge, a part of me was still stuck with the belief that my meditation abilities fell short.
“I Know How To Meditate!”
I think these types of sticky-beliefs can come to have such significance that they influence many of our actions. You get stuck believing ‘I’m not doing it as well as the next person’ or ‘I’m not doing enough’ or ‘My experience isn’t valid if it’s not exactly the same as yours’. Then so much time passes – worrying, doubting or trying to get validation from external sources.
It’s quite enlightening to catch myself jumping into this particular rabbit hole.
So in the spirit of change and awareness: I know how to meditate.
Meditation may help you better manage certain aspects of your health – your emotional health, self-awareness and cognitive functions such as memory and recall. You could explore meditation for stress, or meditation for anxiety. Some of the most recent research applies meditation in a new setting and suggests that when you’re busy working from home, doing a short 5 minute meditation could help you manage Zoom fatigue, a new type of work-related stress.
However, barriers to engaging may put you off from making a start – you may question if you could ever be as serene, calm, kind or centred as someone else who meditates. But is meditation really a competitive practice? If you used to think it was, but now you’re not so sure, perhaps the time has come to try it for yourself.
Happy World Meditation Day!
Image Susn Matthiessen at Unsplash.com