I’d been interested in the effects of meditation for a long time.
I thought it could bring me peace, change my thinking, make me better.
Problem was, there was never enough time. I felt like I couldn’t begin, never mind sustain a daily practice.
I had two young kids who weren’t sleepers. It felt like I was clawing back time just to think straight. My mind was often blurry and reactive. I also told myself this story: I had to do it completely right or not at all (a fantastic excuse that I’ve used time and again to stop doing something I want to do) I desperately wanted the effects of what meditation might bring. I had heard that it trains the mind and creates a gap, the gap between reaction and response. I was becoming an absolutely expert in reacting and I hated it.
I’d finally gotten to the point where it was more painful to do nothing than to do something imperfectly.
So one Thursday in February I was in my parked car outside the school waiting for school to finish. Other parents could see me. This time I made a choice.
This was where I would to give one moment to me. I had finally had enough of giving my time to others. I listened to YouTube videos, some one minute, others three minutes and when I was feeling really full of time, five minutes on simple meditation.
Focusing on my breath and noticing my thoughts.
Sometimes when my four year old was in the backseat he did them too.
I was inconsistent at first.
So I reported in to my coaching group for support.
I was kind to myself that I started at all.
I worked up to giving myself 10 minutes after the kids were in bed.
Even that required a process.
I wrote a sign in Sharpie “Fuck off I’m Meditating” before I began – every time. I wasn’t brave enough to hang it on the kitchen door but I had it on the floor beside me at the back door. My partner knew I’d written it. The thinking behind it was to ensure my daughter didn’t see it, as she was prone to wander down a few times every night after her nighttime routine, so I was (hopefully) guaranteed not to be disturbed.
It gave me a tremendous laugh and empowered me in a way that made me look forward to my evenings mind training. I’d crumple the sign when I was done.
It worked for a while but even that too wore off over time.
And then we had the first lockdown in March 2020.
I knew it was important to take care of my mental health, now more than ever.
I looking into online courses, did an introduction to Mindfulness and participated in a weekly online meditation. It was time to commit. I had gotten a taste of what it could do, a little knowledge of the kinds that are out there and most importantly I had learned that they has finally the science to back it up. Psychology Today – Science Backed Reasons to try Loving Kindness
This was crucial for me. A study showed that practicing for seven weeks increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, awe and reduced depressive and PTSD symptoms.
It reported to increase empathy, compassion, connection, decreases bias towards others, essentially increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative.
Most of all I wanted the create the gap, the gap between reacting to a situation and actually responding to it. I craved that gap.
I decided to commit to 20 minutes a day for six months.
I’d focus on the Loving Kindness Meditation only.
It was time to begin, July 1st.
And then I didn’t get it done on July first.
The procrastination stories abounded. ‘Wait until next month’, ‘You can’t start mid-month’ ‘Ah well, where’s your self control’, ‘Better luck next time’ Opportunities to beat myself up presented themselves, over and over.
But I knew something important.
Something that I had learned on each step getting to that place and that moment.
I had the power to choose something different.
To do it imperfectly, to pick myself first and imagine what it would be like to have six months under my belt. How would I be, what would be different.
That was a little over six months ago. I have meditated almost every day from July 2nd 2020 to today. I have missed about six days.
Sometimes I’ve squeezed it in right before midnight, other times I’ve been able to meditate twice in one day. I’ve had months when it was challenging to meditate in Loving Kindness about a difficult person. I’ve asked for help and figured out a way to get through that too.
Did I get what I wanted?
I’ve noticed that I am different. I am changing one meditation at a time.
I am more accepting of myself and my imperfections. I am open to stopping,
and trying again,
over and over again.
It’s worth the practice. I’ve seen glimmers of the gap.
Momentum was created when I got conscious about what I wanted and why I wanted it.
When it comes to continuing momentum for what’s important I’ve noticed these seven things:
- Choose today to do it imperfectly
- Work with what’s within my control
- Add accountability & a support network
- Give myself grace to fall off track and get back on again (know this may happen and account for it in advance knowing It’s MY progress against who I was yesterday)
- Add humour to make it more fun
- Spend more time being kind to myself & shut down the negative stories
- Look into the future at what it will feel, look, sound, smell, even taste, like
I learned that even though it felt like time wasn’t at all possible I found a way to give myself one minute. That one minute grew to ten and then twenty.
Every time my goal fell off track, I was kind to myself and put it back on again.
I connected it into what was truly important to me. I was realistic and accountable for what was within my control. I couldn’t control when my kids would sleep, or what obstacles they would encounter that I’d have to help solve. I could choose how to respond and flow in the direction of my choosing. And keep choosing it every day.
I found this Tedx Talk by Brian McKenna useful. He talks about how habits happen.
I learned this in my training. Coaching uses these tools and helps shift the excuses so you can connect to your own power, you own personal values.
I can hold the space for another, it’s an absolute privilege, and powerfully supercharges them in the right direction.
What’s as important, is to keep challenging myself to walk in the direction of my choosing.