When my first child was born, I found myself in the midst of a house that was being remodeled with dust everywhere and not a place in sight for our things. It was so unnerving to be in the middle of a construction site. The way I starting coping was by meditating...babies sleep a lot, so there was ample time for me to meditate. I ordered CD's, activating your light body, was the series. They had a number of cd's with 30 minute guided meditations. Sitting outside listening to these cd's for hours a day was something very peaceful and soothing to me, and I felt so proud of myself that I was 'meditating'.
I put a half parenthesis around meditating in this context because while at a spiritual healing festival, about 4 months later, I very proudly announced to this spiritual advisor that I meditated for hours every day. She looked at me with bugged out eyes and said "HOURS???!!!" and I said, "yes, how else would I cope with living in a construction site but to escape into my guided cd's??" And she looked very relieved and said, "oh, guided cd meditation. Like where you listen to someone tell you what to do. Try sitting with yourself for hours everyday girlfriend and then tell me how it goes."
I shrugged this off at the time. I didn't understand there was a difference. Meditation is meditation is what I believed, and the cd's were more than I had ever done before, so my pride still sat with me on this. The guided cd meditation only lasted until I went back to work, and then time seemed to slip away from me and my cd meditations became more sporadic, until I didn't even do them anymore. I had done all of them already, I didn't really see the point in repeating them again and again. And quite honestly, I felt bored with them.
When my third child was born, I was a little more desperate. I was no longer living in a construction zone, but having three children is a little traumatic and I desperately needed an oasis, a vacation, not a distraction, but a way of feeling calm and centered in the midst of the storm that seemed to be constantly erupting around me. I knew that guided cd meditation would not cut it this time. I started reading up on transcendental meditation, as it seemed to be a very popular method for meditating. What I gathered was that you get a specific mantra to practice meditation. Meditation should be simple, I thought, why would you need to go through an entire training on meditation? I have a mantra book and I tried to memorize a mantra or two, but they didn't really stick.
So I just sat with myself. On a regular pillow. In a regular quiet room. With no agenda, no plan, no mantra.
It started out with shorter sessions, 10 minutes.
Then 15 minutes.
Then one day, I couldn't even believe it, but I had meditated for 70 minutes straight!! There it was! I had sat with myself for over an hour. It was so euphoric. The silence. The quiet. The peace. The escape.
Though it didn't feel like an 'escape', in the normal sense of the word. It felt more like a coming home. It was like I came home to myself. And I didn't want to leave.
At first, I had a lot of releasing. By this I mean I would cry. I would cry and sob and I had no idea why. It was some sort of backed up energy of emotion that I had been holding on to. I would be angry for no good reason at all. I couldn't even logically think of a reason that I would be feeling the way I was, but I just let it come out. I tried not to analyze it, but to just allow and give it space. It felt so cleansing and once the release was emptied, I felt so much lighter.
Thoughts would come in of course, I would think of the piles of laundry surrounding me, or the dirt on the floor beneath me and a thousand other 'to do' list kinds of ideas. The thoughts of 'oh my gosh, I cannot believe you are just sitting here when you have all of these things to do' kinds of swirling dialogue. And I let them come. I gave them space, and I, for once in my life, became the observer of my thoughts.
Our monkey minds go and go and go, and do not stop. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts, but more about detaching from them. When you can observe your thoughts, you realize you are not your thoughts. And who you become is the observer of your thoughts. And this, is where the peace comes in.
The more I am able to meditate, the more I am able to find that centering, peaceful state inside of myself in the midst of the everyday chaos and busi-ness. I am able to check in with my thoughts and notice them, and deliberately choose which ones I will accept and align with, and which ones are not worth my time.
I encourage you to meditate, it is the simplest way to get in touch with your inner self. And not with cd's or other auditory guidance, although that is better than nothing, but what I have learned is that when someone is talking in your ears, you cannot notice your thoughts that are going round and round. And therefore, you cannot become the observer of them. Which, is what will bring you home to your peace.
There is a popular saying that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening.
So the question really becomes, not, are you meditating? But rather, are you listening?