"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." - Fredrich Buechner
Apart from brushing my teeth, drinking coffee and telling Tom I love him, I don't think I've ever done anything every day for such a sustained period of time.
But on Saturday, Insight Timer* told me I had just meditated for 250 days in a row.
How does that feel, you might ask?
It's hard to explain, but I guess a rambling blog post is a good place to try. I don't know if I feel calmer - and calm was definitely something I wanted to feel more of this time last year, when my old friend anxiety had moved back in. After 250 consecutive days of meditation, if anything I think I feel my emotions more.
But perhaps the difference is knowing I *can* sit with them, and they will pass. I no longer feel afraid of anger, sadness or loneliness. All things I used to avoid feeling if I possibly could.
I don't feel at one with the Universe. There have been no giant revelations or moments of enlightenment. But there has been a clearing, of sorts. I do feel like I know my mind better.
I have become more conscious of things in my life - and within myself - that I'd like (and need) to change.
When you force yourself to get still at least once a day, you slowly learn how to switch your mind off, even if it's only for a few seconds at a time.
Those moments - those fleeting, precious seconds when I am actually not thinking and am just there, all breath, in my body and all I can hear are cars on the street, or the rattle and creak of the floorboards, or the wind or birds outside, or the oven warming up, or my neighbour leaving for the day, and my mind is empty and quiet, and I can feel the quietness of it - are bliss.
I meditate for an average of 10 minutes at a time. Occasionally I do 20 minutes, like I did this morning. I'd like to build up to more. That feeling - where everything drops away and I witness my mind emptying and getting still - has only ever lasted for a few seconds, so far. I've never been able to maintain it for very long but those few seconds are always worth it. They make me think "ah, this is the point of it all."
Meditation has helped me find ways to relax, to check in, to be in the present throughout the day, not just when I've got the app timer running. When you force yourself to stop and just be where you are right now, you start to realise how much of our mind's energy is spent fretting over the past and the future.
Stress has not vanished from my life because I've been meditating every day. If anything, I'm more aware of how stress feels in my body. But when that happens, I employ a breathing technique which clears the mind and helps me relax.
Meditation has helped me to be (slightly) more patient with and forgiving of myself, which I hope will translate into my interactions with others.
It's become a wonderful way to start the day. I meditate before I do anything - no checking my phone first, and ideally immediately afterward I write in my journal or do Morning Pages (but that doesn't always happen). Once I've meditated, I go into the kitchen and find Tom has made a coffee for me (and unloaded the dishwasher!) and sit there, taking in the taste of the coffee, feeling reset for the day, my senses heightened.
Meditation has helped me feel more peaceful and content in my heart. Every time I hear the closing bell, I feel reassured that I'm a good person doing my best, trying to be kind, improve and move forward.
And that's worth making time for each day.
So what if instead of fearing the power of dark thoughts, we used our minds’ power to create safe havens within ourselves to explore them. Maybe literally envisioning cocoons inside our hearts where we can sit before cozy fires, hot drinks in hand, and ask of our fear and laziness and depression and shame and lust and rage and whatever other thing we might otherwise try to ignore: What is it you’d like to say to me? What indispensable nourishment do you have for the Life of trust I want to live? – Kristen Noelle (via Leonie Wise)
* Insight Timer is a free app and is the one I use based on recommendations from friends and well-wishers. I absolutely love it and am not being paid to mention it in any way! I just wanted to share because it has genuinely improved my life.