Very recently, I came to a personal epiphany about meditation. I had known about it since time immemorial, had friends who extolled its virtues, and had heard about the relevant scientific studies, but had never really understood it myself.
Similar to how salmon skin rolls were my introduction to sushi, I would end up discovering meditation from an unexpected direction. One day at life coaching, my life coach and I were working on ways to help me deal with an upcoming stressful event, when we came upon the idea to do a guided exercise of ‘being in my body’.
Coming out of the exercise, I was extremely relaxed. The way I see it, part of it is the relaxation from sitting in one place, actually listening to your body and how it’s uncomfortable, and dealing with that, but most of it comes from finding all of the things which are affecting you, all the things you are paying attention to without realizing it. You use meditation to find these things, make them conscious, then you can deal with them or let them wash over you. Either way, you can move beyond them. In the limit, you can do a guided meditation, then when you come out of it, you may notice things which were bothering you in a much more conscious way, allowing you to deal with them more easily.
‘Being in your body’ was a much more accessible phrase for me than ‘meditation’, perhaps because it was a new phrase, or a much simpler phrase, without any of the social and cultural attachments of ‘meditation’. ‘Meditation’ always felt very abstract, something that you would do with your mind only, something that you would do in an uncomfortable position in a boring way. Doing it in a trusting environment in a comfortable position I think was key for me. ‘Being in your body’ was also key. A vital part of the process (for me, at least), is being/becoming aware of as many parts of your body that you can, and acknowledging their effects on you. So, for me, at least at the start, it is much more about body consciousness than mind consciousness.
The other key for me was forgiveness. IIRC, G made the connection that many people find it difficult to accept failures in themselves, and they can further find it very difficult to forgive themselves for these failures. When you cannot forgive yourself inside your own head, it is no longer a safe space, and you no longer want to spend time there. So, you might spend time distracting yourself, you might self-medicate in any one of a number of ways.
But the first step towards solving this is to understand what is going on, to understand what you are saying to yourself all of the time. Then you need to allow yourself that safe space inside your head by forgiving yourself. I don’t have a magic answer here (although I plan to write on forgiveness later), all I can say is what worked for me. What might help is understanding that the words you say to yourself may not originally be your own, and differentiating between these words and what you actually feel may help you forgive yourself.
Either way, after going through this, when I got home, S told me that seemed almost asleep standing up, I was so relaxed. I know I didn’t feel asleep, just very relaxed and at peace.
– Be in your body
– Forgive yourself
Thanks for reading! Just writing about that helped me relive/re-experience some of those feelings, and I’m feeling much more relaxed.
Cf. Getting Things Done’s ‘Open Loops’ writ large.
I understand that this inconsistently reductionist and simplistic. I imagine that most of my writing is this way. After this exercise, I am at peace with this. 😀
This is also reductionist and wrong, but beyond the scope.