Meditation didn’t come easy to me. It’s been over ten years since I first tried to meditate, and to be honest I really only started it up again last year (not counting guided meditations, which I did for a long time during 2009-2010, before getting…I don’t know if I’d call it drained or overloaded, but…), and I’ve only been doing it on a regular basis recently.
When I first tried, at 12 or 13, I gave up in frustration after only a few attempts. I have “rapid thinking”, and the idea that my mind would ever be quiet and still long enough seemed impossible. It would have been laughable, if it hadn’t been so damned frustrating.
I was repeatedly told that being able to meditate was the first step. It was foundation work, and if I couldn’t do that, then I couldn’t be a witch.
Which, obviously, is bullshit, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was so angry, and I told myself that I would just have to be the exception. I’d had several years of successful practice behind me at that point. So I figured, “I just started this meditation shit now, so how do they explain that?”
But still, I carried the knowledge of that failure around and I hated myself for it. I hated that I wasn’t good at something (child genius issues, I has ‘em!), and moreover, I hated that there was something expected out of me that I couldn’t possibly give. Seriously, that’s a horrible fucking feeling.
So yeah, I was totally aboard the Fuck Meditation Train. At the time, in fact, I seemed to be the only passenger on it.
It wasn’t until I started doing guided meditations that I realized my brain was capable of shutting up. While transitioning out of the meditation and back into normal awareness (or what the fuck ever), I would realize my thoughts were quiet. That I wasn’t distracted or following a random tangent of daydreaming, I was just there. Breathing and there.
Still, I didn’t go back to the “boring” meditation. Not then, anyway. But it was encouraging enough that when I read for the five billionth time to just try meditating for five minutes a day, I did, with some hope. And I still felt fucking awful at it, I still got lost in thought, I still hated myself and felt like a failure. Those were pretty much consistently the worst five minutes of my day.
But it was still better than it had been in the beginning, because I was able to capture an elusive second or two of quiet. I’m not kidding when I say that I had considered that a giant success compared to the train wreck that were my first attempts.
But that all changed when
the Fire Nation attackedI read these two Jason Miller quotes.
“Lust of result is the greatest obstacle to meditation.”
And even more importantly:
“In all likelihood you will, at first, spend most of your meditation session doing little but being distracted, recognizing it, and returning to the breath only to be distracted again. Many of my students that find themselves in this situation claim that they can’t meditate and give up. What they don’t realize is that they ARE meditating. They are training their minds to recognize when it is not acting according to their will, and bringing it back from distraction.”
(I originally did this as an audio post, and I read that second quote three times. Three. I can’t explain to you how much I love it.)
Honestly, these were game changers for me. And the crazy thing is, that wasn’t even the first time I’d seen these sentiments. I’d read them repeatedly over the years and it never sunk in. I didn’t get it until I read these quotes.
And as brilliant as I think Jason Miller is (and I think he’s pretty great), it wasn’t so much his own personal genius that finally did it for me as much as me finally being open to hearing that. I am a living study in the idea that people don’t really absorb information until they’re ready for it. It’s honestly embarrassing how many things I’ve “figured out” only after having been told them over and over for years.
So anyway, when these ideas finally clicked for me, I stopped thinking about meditation as something I could be “good” or “bad” at. I stopped thinking of it as something I was trying to do, something that would eventually happen if I worked hard enough, and instead it was something I was already doing and engaged with.
Things didn’t suddenly get perfect after that. I still get distracted during meditation, but I don’t get mad at myself for it. I don’t yell at myself or punish myself anymore. I just let the thoughts go and return my focus to my breath.
I’m a little less distracted now, and I’m able to meditate for longer periods of time without getting bored. I don’t meditate for preset amounts of time, because I can be very obsessive over time, but I’m averaging about 15-20 minutes at a time now (more or less on a daily basis). An improvement over the 5-10 minutes from when I first started meditating post-Realization.
I suppose people would say that meditation is easy for me now, and yeah, compared to how it was when I first started, I guess that’s true. But honestly I get kind of offended when people think it must have always been easy for me, because otherwise why would I be doing it? But in reality it was actually harder for me than it is for most people.
You know what though? As much as I love meditation now, as much as I cringe when I hear someone say they’re bad at it, I refrain from jumping in and trying to explain how They Just Don’t Get It, and I don’t shove my practice down anyone’s throat and you’ll never find me attacking someone who chooses not to meditate. Look at all the good that did me.
And maybe one day it’ll click for them too. If so, the resources are already out there, stated as plainly as possible. And maybe they’ll never get it, maybe they’ll never care…so what? What does that possibly have to do with me? If you find yourself getting upset at people who don’t, can’t, or won’t meditate, maybe you should go do it rather than start bugging them over it.
(Yes, even when they’re hostile about it. Some people are like, “I FUCKING HATE MEDITATION AND ANYONE WHO DOES IT MUST BE OUT OF THEIR MIND OR LYING OR SOMETHING IDEK GUYS” but honestly, that’s really just a reaction to everyone shoving meditation down their throats all the time. You’re not helping by jumping in and being all defensive right back at them. If you feel the need to prove the legitimacy and effectiveness of meditation…again, go do it yourself.)
SO YEAH. Them’s my meditation feels. I actually wrote a list (while I was computerless) of posts I wanted to make (along with a few rough drafts) sooo…one down, I guess!
I actually really like this post. And I’ll tell you why: because hellboundwitch is saying that meditation isn’t just the new-age-y idea of it but also the deep thinking or concentration.
Now I’ve said repeatedly. I don’t do it because I think for me it’s a waste of time and sitting thinking is bad for me because it sends me into a spiral of regrets that I literally can do nothing about as I’m regretting something that happened when I was three. (Yeah, I don’t know what the hell that’s about either. It’s not depression as it’s something I can activate and unactivate at will.) And mostly, it’s because I don’t want to. I have other methods of crossing the hedge and I prefer them over the chance that I’ll send myself into a state of unhappiness and unquenchable sorrow for things I can do nothing about. Instead, I sometimes reach a state of meditation while moving through my swordmanship or archery forms but I do not like or want to meditate so I don’t.
There are some people out there who literally cannot meditate. For example for those who are thinking “nonsense! Everyone can meditate! They just aren’t trying hard enough!” That’s untrue. I was childhood friends with a boy that had such debilitating ADHD that no medication could dampen it and he ended up quitting school because it wasn’t fast enough for him. Keep in mind he had a free ride to Brown University too. He’s a genius but he literally could not stop. Great witch but even his Italian witch mother (she may have been an initiated Wiccan too) couldn’t get him to meditate after a lifetime of trying. So she taught him how to meditate, the theory and how-to of it, and then let him do what he wanted from there. There are people out there like that.
I agree that a lot of folks who say they can’t meditate is actually because they have only tried one technique or they aren’t getting results right away. To me, it reminiscent of exercising. No you won’t get results right away but repetition and keeping at it will get you results, eventually. And yeah, in the beginning, it sucks and it’s hard work.
So yes. This post is good. And for my readers out there who want to try meditation but are frustrated with it, read the entirety of hellboundwitch’s post carefully and try again. If you want to. Otherwise don’t. And no matter whether you meditate or not, stop harping on folks who do/don’t. It doesn’t affect you in any way, shape, or form, so what the fuck is your complaint?