I’ve never really been into meditation. My head is always spinning with so much stuff that there didn’t seem any point sitting there and worrying about what I should be doing when I could be doing it. And since having children, any spare sitting down time seems to be either filled with something useful (i.e reading), something social (with husband, family or friends) or something which turns your mind off (i.e. TV). Sitting there with an ’empty’ mind didn’t seem that appealing.
About a year or two ago, my mum gave me a book Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and I thought I’d give it a go and try to get into this meditation lark because, after all, it seems to work for a lot of people, and what’s more, you can do it in as little as 5 minutes a day. Reading it was heavy work at times because it seemed contrary to how I am as a human being, and I had trouble with chapters like ‘In praise of non-doing’. My mind couldn’t let go of the mantra: I need to be doing more stuff, not less, if I’ve going to be happy. But some ideas did attract me more, the idea of ‘letting go’ for example. Acknowledging your feelings but just letting them go, releasing the constant tension and struggling and resisting. But soon, busy life and new ideas took over, and the book sank further down my bedside table pile, unfinished.
This February, I was extremely lucky to go on holiday (without my husband and children) to Australia to see my best friend in Sydney. After 8 years of being a full-time mum, I was near to breaking point and getting away was a lifeline. So I decided to take some self-development literature to see if I could use the time to build better habits. I revisited Jon Kabat-Zinn, and tried one of his meditation tapes. Predictably, though, the holiday spirit took over and Jon’s chuncky tome and audios were soon replaced by novels and gin and tonics. I spent time with my friends and their children and, as importantly, I spent time on my own. And here’s the thing. While I was trying to force myself to meditate on my bed or sofa with not much success (I don’t think falling asleep counts) I found that I was naturally meditating when I wasn’t expecting to. Sydney Harbour is an amazingly beautiful place, and my favourite pastime was spending a ferry ride just sitting and looking at the view. Having lived there for as a nanny for a year when I was 23, the sense of beauty was combined with a heart-warming familiarity, and I could spend hours just looking at the views (from both dry land and on the water).
So I’ve stopped worrying about why I can’t do ‘proper’ meditation and have decided to do my own natural meditation as often as I can. Ok, I can’t look at Sydney Harbour every day, but I can sit on a bench in my garden with a cup of tea (and no book or magazine), watch and listen to nature and let my mind wander for 10 minutes. And strangly it works. (Sitting in a park, or in a cafe’ people-watching also works.) It gives me a sense of peace and tranquility, a forced ‘non-doing’ I suppose, which allows me to recharge. I call it nourishing my soul.