Here’s What Happened When I Tried Meditation For The First Time
The Cusp health expert Casey Beros of Paper Tiger Wellness decided it was time to try her hand at meditation. And she wasn’t exactly an easy sell. Here’s what she learned.
A little while back I was fortunate enough to be invited to learn to meditate by Jacqui Lewis from The Broad Place – a school for creativity, innovation and clarity in Paddington, Sydney.
As kind a gesture as it was, the problem was that I likened the idea of meditation to some sort of torture – kind of how I imagine it would feel to pull your eyelashes out one by one. My mind was just too busy, I was just too busy.
However, my sick and twisted masochistic side enjoys doing things that put me way out of my comfort zone. So I sucked it up, agreed to go along, and can safely say it’s one of the better things I’ve ever done for myself.
The Broad Place teaches Vedic Meditation – a mantra based meditation practice that you ideally do for 15-20 minutes, twice a day. Your mantra (which is basically a sound) is given to you by a guru and in private, and everyone on the course gets given one of their very own after a little ceremony, where you ask and thank the universe for the ‘veda’ or knowledge you’re about to receive.
For the ceremony you’re asked to bring a bunch of things to offer including flowers and fruits – pay attention and do as they say or you’ll be turned away at the gates. This is serious stuff, people. With the odds seriously stacked against me (considering I likened meditation to torture and am also not particularly great at following instructions) Jacqui’s modern approach made me seriously appreciate (heck, even enjoy) the practice. Here’s the five best things I learned, crushed into a raw nutshell just for you:
#1 Stop being a try-hard
Meditation is effectively sitting with your eyes closed, trying to think about nothing, right? Wrong. The issue here is the word trying. Meditation is supposed to be effortless, however for most of us that’s an almost impossible challenge, so having something for the mind to follow is really helpful (hello mantra) – that’s why they say Vedic Meditation is a great meditation technique for busy minds, like mine.
#2 It’s not strict
You can easily feel like meditating is a rigid structure you need to adhere to, and that might turn you off. Well, meditation that works for your modern life is about fitting it into that life in any way you can. Skip a day? Doesn’t matter, just try again the next day. Your mind isn’t going anywhere, so be easy on yourself. Bye, bye guilt.
#3 It’s like a personalised workout
Meditation is like exercise: some types work for some people and not for others, so you have to find what works for you. This makes perfect sense. Some people use yoga (such as Kundalini Yoga) as their moving meditation, others chant, listen to guided meditations from the Internet, do colouring in for mindfulness exercises, or some lucky people can sit in stillness, simply listening to their breath as the stress of life falls away.
Experiment and figure out what works for you, because realistically, it’s the only way you’ll keep it up.
#4 Work with the mind, not against it
We’re not trying to get rid of the thoughts, the mind thinks in the same way that the heart beats – we can’t STOP them, we just want to find some space around them – genius!
#5 It comes with benefits
Benefits are gained outside of the meditation practice, so you might sleep better, feel calmer, and be better able to adopt a ‘roll with the punches’ attitude when shit hits the fan. In other words, you’re going to become a better you.
The benefits are almost addictive, and as I started to feel calmer, sleep better and adapt exactly the sort of attitude Jacqui promised (in baby steps), I knew meditation was something that needed to continue to be a part of my life.
The most important thing I learned (take note, fellow sceptics), was that there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ meditation – you reap the benefits regardless. Win! So if you’re struggling, I’d highly recommend getting involved in a course so you can learn with training wheels and then go out on your own.
Info is here for The Broad Place’s course, and once you’ve learned the ropes you’ll be invited into a community of like-minded individuals you can hang out with on Monday nights for group meditations and engaging philosophical chats, not to mention snacks and tea. For free. For ever.
Casey is an established health journalist, health coach and co-founder of Paper Tiger Wellness. She is also a Barre instructor, as well as a health educator for FreshEd – a health education program for teens in Australia.
Lead image: Flickr