Meditation has always been a kind of scary word for me. Maybe scary is the wrong word - maybe more skeptical? And I always told myself I don't have time. I have two young, noisy kids. I have a small business to run... blah, blah, blah.
But then I remember that I always found a way to get my fix when I was addicted, and that shuts me up.
I read (and strongly, strongly recommend to anyone - even people who aren't in recovery) Lorna Kelly's "In the Footsteps of the Camel" (the Kindle edition is less expensive than the paperback version). She is in recovery, and has a fascinating life story as an auctioneer at Sotheby's, and then a close relationship with Mother Teresa, and a really interesting blend of studying faiths and perspectives on her own spiritual path. And she's funny. Funny is so important to me when it comes to these weighty topics. (I'll stop here to send a big shout-out to Lisa H. who turned me on to her in the first place by sending me a copy of a CD of her speaking at a recovery convention).
So, anyway, Lorna talks not just about the fact that she meditates, but how she does. She uses Vipassana Meditation, which in my very neophyte way I will define as "thought observation". Every morning she puts her alarm clock across the room so she can't hit snooze. She then splashes cold water on her face to wake herself up, and goes downstairs for 20 minutes of quiet time (no screen time, no radio, no television). She sips tea, or looks out the window, but no noise. Then she goes upstairs and sits on her mat for 45 minutes of meditation (setting an egg timer she can't hear ticking down the hall from her room). After 45 minutes, no matter how blissful she's feeling (or how edgy), when the timer goes off, she stops.
During the meditation, she observes her thoughts, without judgement or fear, and if she gets too deep into some practical problem or daily snarl, she pulls herself back to baseline through breathing. She also got to the point where she can meditate on her own death, and it brings her peace. In my Buddhist readings I learned how Buddhist monks consider this ability - meditating on your own death - to be a joyous breakthrough. I'm not quite there, yet, but I'm curious.
Lorna's practice just makes sense to me. A practical interpretation of an ancient form of meditation (I'm sure long-time practitioners of this are rolling their eyes). But this is what I love about Lorna - she's totally committed to her recovery, her meditation practice, her reaching out to others, but she's so human, so grounded, so real. So busy, too.
And she is a cancer survivor.
So I've been trying this. Every morning. Watching my thoughts - without getting caught up in them, or owned by them - is fascinating. My brain never stops and the sheer number of topics it will hit upon in 45 minutes is astounding. I know I'm not unique in this way, but it still surprises me.
It's challenging with the kids - getting up before them means about 5:30am, so if I miss that window I have to tell them to find their own quiet activities for 45 minutes while I meditate somewhere in the house where I can't hear them (thankfully, they are old enough that I can do this safely, now). That's good for them, too.
As a last result, I'll go for a walk. No music, just walking and mindfulness.
I can feel it helping, although I can't really put into words why. Maybe getting used to observing some of my scarier thoughts without obsessing about them is helping me embrace fear more. Because a lot of my thoughts revolve around fear.
And I'm learning that it's okay. That my mind creates thoughts like my heart pumps blood, or my lungs breathe air. There are no "bad" thoughts - and it's not my monkey mind's fault that it is a thought-making machine. I'm just trying to learn to make peace with it.
One day at a time.
P.S. - I don't recommend many books.. only when I really feel they are unique or impactful in some way. This endorsement of her book is all me - I was not paid or asked to write about it.