I’ve been making attempts at learning to meditate, on and off (very much on and off!) for several years now. To say it doesn’t come naturally is putting it very mildly. My over-busy brain doesn’t take kindly to efforts to persuade it to be silent. I find it very difficult to find the detached viewpoint from which to watch my thoughts, and anyway, they tend to be so relentless and overwhelming that the detached observer has her work cut out. I can’t get on with suggestions such as “imagine your thoughts as leaves floating down the river…” My imagination isn’t very visual, and my river would soon be silted up with all the leaves…
At times I’ve given up, feeling that maybe I’m just not temperamentally suited to meditation practice. And yet…I’m slowly learning to be more mindful and present in daily life, which is very helpful in slowing me down a bit and relieving ruminations and anxiety. Meditation still draws me – there’s a sense that if I could just get past my barriers, it might be of benefit to me.
A recent experience has confirmed that. It was during one of my sleepless nights, and I was lying on my back trying to focus on my breathing and rest mind and body as much as possible. There was what I can only describe as a sudden gear shift in my mind. All the background chatter had ceased and there was a profound silence. It’s hard to put the experience into words, but it seemed as if I was looking out from a much lower, deeper place than usual – from deep inside my chest rather than just inside my head. What I noticed most was that my focus was entirely outward facing. It was the first time I’d experienced something other than my usual dual perception, which I had never even been aware of before – part of me is observing outside myself, but a large amount of energy goes into monitoring and analysing my thoughts and reactions to what I’m observing. I saw and felt vividly how exhausting, energy-sapping and often painful it is to maintain this dual seeing. There was an incredible peace in the unified seeing, and it felt as if the essence of me was free-floating as it observed, without emotion or judgement.
The experience probably only lasted a minute or two, but it was a window onto new possibilities for finding the elusive peace. I don’t want to go looking or it, seeking to make it happen, but it’s encouraged me to go back to meditation.
I’m going to take it very slowly. For the next week I’m going to sit and be aware of my breathing for 2 minutes each day. That’s all. And then I’ll decide what comes next.