The focus of my posts recently, have been centered on the importance of learning how to deal with strong emotions at the work place and in the home in order to maintain good relationships, keep communication open and avoid creating negative or oppressive atmospheres. Last week we examined the positive effects that mindful practices and meditation have as effective coping skills. In today’s post I reveal the difficulty I had trying to navigate a journey that included meditation as a habitual practice in my own life.
When I attended Yogi John’s classes in Hollywood, meditation time after a workout was really difficult for me, even though I embraced the idea of relaxing after a hard workout. To begin the meditation practice, we were asked to grab a pillow from within the room and sit crossed legged with our backs held straight and our hands resting lightly on our knees. It was great to include a quiet place to chill after these strenuous workouts, but sitting with my back erect, crossed legged, clearing my mind to focus on my breathing was not my definition of relaxation. In fact, I had to work really hard to concentrate on clearing my thoughts and maintain a good posture, as I quickly discovered that slouching added more strain on my back. In short, after a physically challenging workout, I found this was proving to be just as hard as the class!
First of all, I was not used to sitting for long periods of time like this. I soon discovered that I was not conditioned to maintain this posture for longer than about five minutes. My back started to feel strained and my legs were starting to fall asleep. So rather than feel a sense of accomplishment from trying this new practice, and unlike the yogic masters that could sit in this posture for hours on end, after 5 minutes, I was now fidgeting and praying I would not not attract attention by how difficult this was proving to be for me. In addition, I was subtly trying to wake up my legs that apparently had no problem with relaxing because by now they had dozed off, leaving me to process the effects of the tingling sensation as they snored away!
I was having an internal meltdown. I kept looking at the clock wondering how long I had been sitting there and how much longer this was going to last. In other words, the more I tried to relax the harder it was. How on earth was this supposed to be a relaxing, enlightening experience? All I felt were heightened levels of stress! It was like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time; although that I could do that a lot easier! At this point, my mind was racing rather than calming down. My inner voice was asking all sorts of questions: Am I doing this right? Are others struggling as much as I am? What if I can’t get up, or worse, fall down because my legs took a vacation? What am I going to make for dinner tonight? My inner dialogue was like a late night comic’s monologue! Needless to say, my first experience in learning how to meditate proved to be a harder task for me than learning how to read, speak, and write in Greek! So, how did I overcome these challenges? That’s our conversation for Wednesday’s post! Until then stay organized!
“Peace is not something you wish for, it is something you make, something you are, something you do, and something you give away. – Robert Fulghum