Me and meditation, definitely not love at first sight.
By Stephanie Smilas. Feb 2019.
As cliche as it might sound, I can’t get away from the fact that meditation makes me a better person.
I feel better when I meditate regularly.
I’m better at focusing on my work and the important things in my everyday life.
I have more patience with other people, and I feel more connected to myself.
The list could honestly go on and on, and on… But I’ll spare you, for now. Simply put, meditation is what helps me to be the best version of myself and I’m always going to aim for that.
I also find that meditation is where I learn the most about human behaviour, both my own behaviour and that of others.
Psychology has fascinated me for most of my adult life and I understand humans better through the lessons I learn in meditation. We now know that meditation helps all kinds of mental health issues and has benefits for anyone who practices with some regularity. I’m so glad that this is now becoming an integrated part of many psychologist’s treatment plans, and also becoming more accepted in the general public domain.
Meditation began for me as Savasana. When I began practicing yoga in 2003, meditation was the part where you had to try to stay quiet and still until the teacher released you. Honestly, I did not take to it. My mind was busy, which apparently was a no, no and it always felt like time that I could be using more productively. I vividly remember lying on my mat just getting lost in thoughts or counting the minutes in a bid to keep the thoughts away. Neither felt very restful. Now I know that counting in meditation is fine and actually so are thoughts, but that’s another article.
I was a very different person before I found a sustained meditation practice. It was 2007, I was living overseas and the book The Secret had just become the biggest thing in the world. Everyone was talking about it. The furore was incredible! There was the book, the workbook, the notebook, the DVD, the everything! And everyone was on the bandwagon.
Being an avid reader I picked up a copy of the book and I really, really tried to read it. I really, really struggled. So, I watched the movie. The majority of the content just didn’t resonate with me. Yet so many people around me were into it! 100% into it! It was like they’d found the genie in Aladdin’s lamp and all you had to do was believe and you’d be fast-tracked to the promised land of wealth and success…
I was not with the program… I felt like a liar. I really tried to get behind the affirmations and ignore the little voice in my head (LVIMH) who was firmly grounded in the now and would throw reality checks at me with the speed of an international fast bowler..
“I am abundant and money flows towards me”
LVIMH “Baaaahahahahah! ummmm no, your business is failing and you’ve never felt more stressed in your entire life”
Unfortunately the LVIMH was right. It was a really difficult time. There was a lot of pressure to turn things around. Every aspect of life seemed overwhelming and all thoughts lead back to me feeling like a failure. I had my first ever panic attack and the sense of impending doom was everywhere.
I reluctantly decided to pick up The Secret again. This time around, I managed to find something that did resonate.
Wow, it seems ridiculous now but at the time this was a whole new way of thinking, an unfamiliar and pivotal concept. Being grateful for what I did have, seeing the good no matter the situation, focusing intently on my blessings… This was something I could do. I could bring my attention to the good things I had to be grateful for today in the present. I was healthy, my physical body was strong. I had a beautiful healthy son, who amazed me everyday and I was loved.
So I began my gratitude practise. I sought out moments to stop and be still and internally express my gratitude. Mentally thanking, I’m not sure who. Sending prayer like verses off into the universe. It felt authentic because, I did believe every word I was saying. Gratitude was tangible.
It became almost game like, how many minutes could I use for gratitude practise each day. I knew I could nearly always find 15 minutes to be still so I began trying to “catch” 15 minute blocks wherever possible. I’d get to work 15 minutes early so I could meditate. I’d park at the supermarket and meditate for 15 minutes before getting my groceries. I learnt to meditate with my eyes open because I was still too fearful of other people’s opinions to explain what I was doing. It astounds me now, but that’s how it was.
My gratitude meditation continued on like that for 2 more years and expanded not only into my yoga practice, but into exploring other types of mediation as well. I joined a weekly mediation group. I learnt that meditation came in many different shapes and sizes.
Metta or loving-kindness meditation, Self love and compassion, Mantra, Recollective awareness, Guided meditations, Body scans, Senses and Intentional thinking.
In the years that have followed meditation has taught me more about myself and about life than anything else. I’ve learnt how to communicate authentically with myself and those around me. I’ve learnt how to let things go and stop overthinking things that weren’t even my problem and, I’ve become really good friends with the LVIMH.
Through practicing meditation in different circles I have found amazing people and am now surrounded by the most supportive tribe of humans you could ever imagine. And each of the meditations mentioned above have become like friends that I can visit at any time. I’m so grateful for all of that.
Sharing that, guiding others to feel or discover that, is a calling I can’t ignore. I’m so very excited about being able to share meditation and mindfulness with others. I’m one of those annoying people who wants to shout it from the rooftops!
COME AND MEDITATE!!
Fortunately my mediation practice helps me to understand why that action is unlikely to win me, or meditation any fans.
But what I can do is keep connecting with other people, work to cultivate my practice, be mindful in my everyday life and found a business that teaches mindfulness and meditation. A much subtler approach.
To work with Stephanie go to https://herenowgroup.com/programs/