My attitudes to spirituality and meditation are somewhat unconventional as I never seem to take a ‘normal’ or ‘straight’ path to anything.
My first dalliances with meditation began over a decade ago when I first went to a ’12-step’ addiction group to try and come to terms with a binge-eating disorder. In these groups you follow the 12 steps – first created by Alcoholics Anonymous (but they can be used for any obsession – even social media)! You also learn to create your own view of what a ‘God’ might mean to you (yes even atheists can use this – more on that another time). And you also learn about daily practices including either ‘prayer’ (in what ever form you are comfortable with) and Meditation.
I love meditation but for physical reasons (and because I feel like a wally) I cannot sit cross-legged and repeat ‘ohm’ in a chanting voice. I have to say that Edina Monsoon from the hit TV show ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ put me off all that:
So I have spent a great deal of time learning about different ways to meditate. I had no idea there were so many ways.
For me the issue I always had was feeling that I had to do it at certain times of the day and for certain lengths. But really there are no hard and fast rules as such. The aim is simply to try and clear your mind of clutter.
Many techniques ask you to clear your mind of thoughts – do you know how hardthat is when you are just starting out?
So what I do is:
- Simply try and snatch meditative moments throughout the day. I try and be early for appointments so I can meditate, I meditate a lot when parked in my car (never of course whilst driving).
- Sometimes I meditate with my eyes open, sometimes closed. Sometimes I repeat a word or hum a tune. Sometimes I am silent.
- Just ‘Listen’. My good friend says he is always early in his car for appointments as he really cannot stand to be late at all. So when he pulls up outside his appointment he turns off the car radio, winds down the window and simply listens to life. He will notice the sound of traffic, the sound of children playing in a nearby school, birdsong, anything. The distraction from chattering thoughts is what is achieved by simply stopping and taking some time to notice the world around him. Whenever he has a thought pop into his head he simply says to hims self ‘thank you for that – I will think about you later’ and then returns to the thoughts again.
- I also like to run myself a big bath, with bubbles and a candle or two (not uncommon). But instead of taking my book, magazine or even my smartphone into the bathroom with me to read, I now turn off the bathroom light and meditate by staring at the candle and noticing the glow change colour and shape, the temperature of my body and the smells of the bath suds, candle and other lovely ‘bathroomy’ smells. Candles for me make it really easy to meditate as they provide a perfect distraction to thoughts as they pop in, I just remind my self to stare at the candle again.
I always used to be rather cross with myself when meditating if I had a thought pop into my head (as it happens a bloomin’ lot). I would think some more based on that about how i cant possibly be doing this right, how I was rubbish at it, why oh why can i not keep my mind clear.
Then I had a breakthrough moment…. ‘THAT’ IS THE FLIPPIN’ POiNT!! Meditation Should have thoughts drift in.
The practice is to NOT let them take you down the path of further thought. Simply acknowledge the thought and carry on meditating.
There is simply nothing wrong with this. At whatever point you realise that you are thinking about something else, simply forgive yourself and move back to the meditation.
So there you go, I meditate everywhere and anywhere it is safe to do so. Even in the doctor’s surgery (I stare at my phone – a picture of my son and meditate on my feelings of love for him).
Love, Claire xx