I started Meditation last summer and have been wanting to write about it for a while but unfortunately couldn’t get myself to do so. The reason behind this is that my opinion on it has changed drastically from month to month.
Yet, for posterity and because I would like to make sure of my thoughts, here are a few aspects I’d like to write down. But first, let’s start with some background.
Background with Meditation
I’ve always been someone who cannot stop and “has to” do something all the time. Whether as a kid or later in life, not doing anything has always felt like a waste of time for me.
Yet, as I studied Japanese, I started becoming more interested in Meditation through Zen. I randomly met a monk in 2012 and he gave me a very interesting book about his type of zen meditation. Reading it got me curious and after coming back to France, I decided to participate to a free trial session of Zazen. While I never went again, the experience was interesting and changed a bit more my indifference for meditation.
Years later, around 2015 if I remember well, I fell upon one of those “Meditation is great for you. Try it!” types of articles online but, for some reason this one got me thinking. I don’t remember the article itself but I can indeed recall myself thinking that:
In the best case, it’d be positive. In the worst case, it wouldn’t have any impact.
So I gave it another go. I did one guided meditation and then forgot about it.
2017, same thing happened: I found an article about it. Reminded me of the one above and so I tried again. I was on holidays in France and I meditated well for the week and a half remaining but lost it again when I came back to Japan.
A New Try
And now finally, in Summer 2018, I started this whole process of improving myself. I then did some research and found that most happy people who are “successful” did some meditation on a daily basis. If it could improve your understanding of yourself, your focus, your patience, etc., then why not give it a real go?
So there we were. I downloaded the app HeadSpace and started with its “basics” courses to get myself to understand the essentials of meditation. Patience, calm, following the breath, feeling the weight of the body. All those were close to being entirely new concepts for me.
The first month was free and I was meditating daily at least 3–4 times including one session of 15–20 minutes. Problem was: I would fall asleep more than half the time in the middle of the long session.
Luckily, I saw a part of the app mentioning the problems one may encounter when starting meditation. There, it stated that this wasn’t such a problem as the process of meditating was started before falling asleep and we kept on hearing the rest while in that “half asleep” state.
A while back, this wouldn’t have been enough to keep the motivation and going forward, but it appears I was in the right mindset when I came across this reasoning.
So I went on, and for close to 2 months, I was religiously meditating and loving every (awake) second of it. My general mood drastically improved, my view of the world and daily troubles got a lot more positive. I think the process even contributed to reflecting well on my long-term goals and my personal mission statement.
But then, it happened. My flatmate who had gone for close to 4 months to Australia for a business trip came back. I was obviously very happy to have him back but in the meantime, I had moved to a new flat and as his visa (for Australia) was not yet ready, he started sleeping in the living room. Having him back and someone to have a talk or drink with any night was a pleasure but my meditation sessions now had to wait until later in the day, sometimes being pushed to a small, 5 minute long, session at night right before bed.
Apart from the pleasure I had in being generally happier, I believe there are 2 reasons that led me to not stop entirely:
- My flatmate was understanding about my will to meditate. After discussing it, he sometimes even took part in the guided meditation.
- The high cost that I had paid for a one year subscription for HeadSpace back then. It was around 100$ for a year (now down to 40+$ I believe) which seemed ridiculous for what it does, but I thought that this would contribute to me continuing: I dislike wasting money, no matter the amount.
During the 2 months that came after, meditating some time in the day was close to being another task on my schedule. It didn’t feel like it had such a positive impact on me anymore. But it didn’t have a negative impact either! So I kept on going.
The one thing that I am extremely thankful for this period is that due to this I was able to get into a habit to falling asleep at night doing some sort of “sleeping meditation”. This has had a tremendous impact on my sleep quality as well as my mood when I wake up.
For the past month or so, I have been trying to get in the habit of doing more fixed meditation, in the morning early, in the train on the way to work, right before sleeping and/or a small “walking meditation” on my way to the station that is 10 minutes away. I enjoy it and feel it has a positive impact on me but I don’t believe anymore that everybody should be doing it either.
I used to try to let anybody know that I had started meditation and that it was incredible so they should give it a go as well. While I still do believe that it could have a positive impact on most people’s lives, I don’t believe that it is a must for everybody anymore. Or at least not now.
We all have our likes and dislikes so meditation may be one of the things we disagree on. Furthermore, it forces you to be on your own, in silence (or at least close to silence with guided meditation) which is something we all have trouble with.
I believe the final goal of meditation for me would be to be in peace with myself and improve my patience in general. Also, as someone constantly listening to music or something, being in a quiet place has been a very pressuring experience for a long time.
All in all, to qualify meditation as a good or bad thing to someone seems pointless. I do believe it is something of interest and that can improve mood and general quality of life. Yet, I also think that the only way to actually start appreciating it is by reaching that time in your life (no matter your age) when meditation doesn’t feel like this “weird” “hippy” thing that you’ve seen in movies. You’ll then feel interested and may do some research online that’ll get you to give it a go.
There are numerous versions of meditation and I found that guided meditation worked best for me. So if you want to try, give a few versions a go and see where it gets you.
Now, as they say at the beginning of the sleep meditation:
“Take a couple of nice big deep breath. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. As you breathe in, sense an idea of breathing fresh air and as you breathe out, just letting go of the day.”
I guess the most important with meditation is to let go. Only this way can you move forward in a positive manner.