Do you meditate, chickens? I confess I’m a fickle practitioner. I know I should; I always feel better when I do–centered and grounded and all those other New Age words that sound a little woo-hoo but simply mean I feel more at peace. I have experimented with the props, the incense and candles and eye bag and little chime. I’ve experimented with positions–sitting cross-legged, sitting in a chair, lying down. I’ve used guided meditations and done it on my own.
The results can be mixed. I’ve had meditations that finished with me feeling jangly and irritated–always after being interrupted. And I’ve had meditations that were so tranquil I went into a state of such relaxation I was neither here nor there. (Those have always been guided. I never seem to be able to do that on my own.) But I’ve always struggled with the idea that there must be a “right” way to meditate and that I’m getting it wrong and therefore my results are all over the map.
Until I read Kimberly Wilson’s thoughts on meditation in her book, TRANQUILISTA. Kimberly is an entrepreneur, yoga instructor, podcaster, philanthropist, and author–oops, forgot fashion designer!–among other things, and she presents a no-nonsense approach to having it all, the enlightened life of thoughtful contemplation AND chandelier earrings. In her bit on meditation, she points out that THERE IS NO PERFECTION. It’s all practice. And your job during meditation is simply to notice and acknowledge what is happening. See the monkey-thoughts scampering in the trees and just BE with those little scamps. Notice your breathing, how your body feels. The only point of the meditation is simply to exist and not drift into memory–the past–or worry–the future. The only concern is the present.
It seemed so simple and so fool-proof that I set an alarm on my phone to let me know when ten minutes had passed and got comfy and closed my eyes. I marked my breathing. I acknowledged the little monkey thoughts frolicking in the trees and brought my thoughts back to my breathing. And then a strange thing happened. With a few minutes left in the meditation, I started to think about the people I love. I visualized wrapping them each in golden light. And then I thought about someone who hurt me recently. Without intending it or planning for it or anticipating it, I wrapped her up too. I sent her forgiveness and love without having the slightest idea that I would feel the need to do that. It simply flowed out of the peace I was feeling in the moment–and it’s the sort of thing I don’t remember ever doing during a meditation before.
I did the same with every person I could remember who had hurt me. I wrapped them up in golden light, like a big balloon, and then I cut the cord on each of them, sending them on their way with perfect serenity. Does that mean anything to them? Most likely not. But here’s the thing it did for me: after several very long days of very exhausting work, I was tapped out. I had a massive final push to read through my manuscript one more time and polish it up before submitting it. I didn’t have the energy or the desire to do this, only the obligation.
Until I meditated. When I was finished, I felt alert, happy, energetic, and optimistic. I tackled my manuscript and worked eight hours straight with brief breaks to eat. I finished it with serenity and satisfaction. I made my deadline, sending the book in at half past five in the afternoon.
So, the moral of this for me is that meditation doesn’t have to be structured or formal or difficult or guided or complicated. It can be as easy as ten minutes of simply being PRESENT for yourself–and it is indeed a present, one that keeps on giving.