A Moment’s Silence – Meditation for Beginners

It had been suggested by a varying range of wonderful people in my life that I might benefit from the practice of meditation.  Which I thought was an enchanting concept, although really, slightly ridiculous.  Now I know that I am unusually full on, and that I have energy levels that do exhaust a number of people.  I apparently talk faster than most living humans, (or so people tell me, though I have yet to work out why their two ears can’t keep up with my one mouth?  I mean, do the math?). 

However, times come when we have to take a cold hard look at ourselves, and accept that some suggestions are made with loving intentions, and that advice may be worth serious consideration.  So take a look I did….. and I’ll admit  – it wasn’t a pretty picture.  For example, when I get really excited about something, I am literally gasping for air after I try so desperately to explain it and get my ideas out as fast as they are arriving in my brain, and everyone else in the room are just looking utterly dumbfounded, and in fact feel ‘assaulted’ by the tirade of words I have just vomited forth at them.  I also like to do at least 4 things at once, and have never quite worked out why we couldn’t have 8 arms like an octopus, or why we need to sleep for more than a few hours – I mean, come on – I could read one of the 300 books I have waiting for me to devour, or watch 1 of the 248 movies on my fatso list, or paint another painting, or do another paper toward my degree, or come up with another business concept, or squeeze in an extra play, or write another chapter in my novel, or go and learn to play piano, or at the very least whack out a quick poem?    I don’t even do sleep very well – I tend to have wonderfully exciting dreams, then wake up thinking it would make a great movie, then I get all frustrated because by the time I have gotten past the memory of it being so fantastic I have completely forgotten it, so I can’t write it down.  And then I am far too wired to go back to sleep.  So I get up and I pace.  And I write lists.  And nothing stops me.  

At 36, I collapsed with heart problems.  I had a stent put it, and then went straight back to work 3 days later and just carried on like the above.  That was the norm for me.   “I’m OK”, I cried, “they threw a metal rod in there for goodness sake, I’m downright invincible”.  And I believed my own bollocks.  But this time, the bollocks wasn’t washing.  It was time to admit that the exhaustion was starting to catch me.  And I really didn’t want to scare the bejesus out of every person I worked any more.  And truth be known, my dearest friends were getting a bit worn out by me.   It was time to concede that it is not altogether healthy in the long term to go at the pace I’ve been going.  

So meditation it is!!  My first morning arrives, and the cushions are all set up, and there I head to undertake this fabulous art of meditation.  I mean, really – how hard can it be?  You just sit there, right?  And think…or not think…as the objective actually is. 

Well, after 2 minutes, my nuclear powered ‘brain’ was beside itself ….”Well, this is fun isn’t it…You know you have a heap of stuff to do today don’t you?…. And you’ve just been in bed for the last 6 hours…sleeping, like, hello, ain’t that meditation?…..so what do you call THIS?..Eh?..Hello?  ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?????”   Oh yeah, ‘brain’ was ON FIRE….and as you can probably guess, my brain talks really, really fast too.  Just like my gob.  So my first meditation session lasted 2 minutes and 6 seconds, exactly. 

Yes, my old pal ‘brain’ won the game hands down that morning.  

But one thing I am not, is a quitter – so at the recommendation of a friend, I grabbed a book called “Hurry Up and Meditate” by David Michie.  The title alone really worked for me, speedy, quick, get on with it – you’re talking my kinda language buddy!

And it was a revelation.  Most importantly, it gave me the facts.  I love facts.  Scientific, inarguable facts.  With irrefutable data.  Numbers and statistics.  None of this, you just “should”, because it will be good for you.   I wanted the real guts about why it would be of benefit to me to sit on my bum for an hour doing absolutely nothing.  How could that possibly be good for you?  And the book delivered.  There were a surprising number of benefits that far outweighed the pain of sitting quietly for more than 2 minutes. 

And best of all, it pointed out that most people find it hard to start with, so no, I wasn’t just a complete failure at this thing.  It even said, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do the full hour to start with.   Just start with 10 minutes.  (Gee, it’s OK not to be a world expert on your very first try?  How do most of us high achievers cope with that idea?)  

Well, even I can be quiet for 10 minutes, so I was pretty sure that I could negotiate with ‘brain’ to do that too.  And indeed I did.  I’m pleased to say, that we are now on week 4, and I have cracked the hour.  Many benefits kicked in for me remarkably quickly – my memory has improved 10 fold.  I am way, way calmer than I have been in years.  I do believe strangers can even understand me when I speak now, as I breathe between sentences, and even pause between words.  The blood pressure has stayed low, and I sleep better than I have in a very long time.  And I actually do just ‘feel good’.  And those ideas still come at me at the speed of light, but they enter, and hover a bit more gently, and let me pick them up and write them down in a much healthier and interesting way. 

So, come on – hurry up!  But don’t get off your butt, get on it.  Hurry up and meditate!  It is surprising who you discover there inside you when you stop to listen.

Oh, here is the one really practical tip that wasn’t in any book –  I knew I couldn’t just get up at the same old time, and then meditate for an hour – that really would be adding stress to my life, as I have never been much of a morning person as it is.  So I have had to have the discipline of getting up an hour earlier.  But let’s face it – I could get up and go for a run, or I can get up and go sit on my butt in the lovely wee spot I have created, and spend time with my new best friend – me.  Beats the tarmac any day.  And yes, some days it is a struggle.  ‘Brain’ still vies for control.  But we are working on that together.  I get the feeling ‘brain’ is starting to rather like this wee breather each morning too….and has also worked out that this means we will NOT be sitting in silence, navel gazing in the evening and missing out on any of the other of life’s great pleasures we so enjoy …. like drinking fine wine with friends and toasting this truly extraordinary life.

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