My first experience with meditation was waking up to the sound of my mum obediently chanting the phrase “Om Mash-i-Myah” in sync with a blunt male voice on a CD recording. My initial thought: Shit, I’ve done it. I have finally driven mum mad. For many years after that, I saw meditation as a strange, seemingly ritualistic, practice that only free-spirited hippies engaged in.
As I came to realise that this was certainly not the case, even then, the idea of meditation was far more appealing to me than actually taking the time out of my day to do it. It seemed that every time I sat down with the intention to meditate for ten minutes, I either fell asleep or became even more panicked by the idea that I was wasting precious time. Time which could be spent on other far more productive tasks like reading what Pitchfork had to say about Kanye’s latest album release (spoiler, they’re not fans). Not to mention, in an age where technology is omnipresent and virtually inescapable, the idea of ‘switching off’ for as little as ten minutes a day seemed to me like a near impossible feat.
But, here’s the good news. As it turns out, it’s OK to let your mind wander during meditation. In fact, it’s completely natural. I think a lot of us – certainly I did – have this idea that you’re not allowed to think at all while you meditate, and that your mind has to be completely blank. But that’s not quite the case. See, what I have learned is that it’s not about stopping thoughts, it’s about letting them pass by, accepting them as they come into your mind and then returning your focus. Simple as that.
After realising that I have been completely misinformed about the art of meditation, I’ve decided that I want to give it another crack and make it part of my daily routine. Even if it’s for as little as five minutes each morning in-between waking up and doing my exercise, I feel like there are far too many benefits to give up on meditation completely. Not only does it significantly reduce stress levels(something I tend to feel much too often given that I am a 20-year-old uni student with hardly any real responsibilities), it can also increase focus, enhance creativity and improve general happiness and well-being.
Now, I’m not at all expecting that I’ll be ‘born again’ through meditation or that it’s going to lead me on an epic journey to self-discovery. But, I am hoping to gain a greater level of self-awareness and clarity of thought. The reason I am doing this is not to become a changed person, but to be able to reflect deeply on the issues that I would otherwise run from, and to be able to address the pent-up feelings or emotions that I probably don’t even realise I have. I know that it won’t be easy, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot of practice before it begins to come naturally to me. But, eventually it will, and hopefully, I’ll be a better person for it.
If you’re looking at giving it a try for yourself, here are a few useful apps that I would recommend: