I have a confession to make. I haven’t always enjoyed meditation. In fact, it wasn’t really that long ago, I didn’t even like it much. But that all began to change in 2010, when I escorted my yoga-loving daughter on a retreat being held in a quaint village in the French Alps. Of course, she needed a chaperone. But, I figured it would be yoga for her, pastry and wine tasting for me. However, when we arrived, I learned that, in addition to the twice dailyyoga practice, there was also an evening meeting for meditation. Whoa!I hadn’t signed up for that last part. This was upsetting to my plans. Meditation?I don’t think so.
The Meditations Of A Reluctant Skeptic
At that time in my life, meditation was definitely not my cup of tea. “Reluctant” was my middle name, but, it was barely edging out “Skeptic,” running a close second. Why would I want to sit in silence listening to my own thoughts, when there were pastry and wine tastings to attend? But, I figured, what the heck. After all, how many chances in life do you get to attend a yoga retreat in a quaint village in the French Alps? Why not?
Being the curious person I am, it was inevitable that I would attend the meditation. But, that didn’t mean I had high hopes. Yet, there I was each evening, sitting in a circle of people doing absolutely nothing, saying absolutely nothing, and, being absolutely unproductive. At least, that’s the way it appeared to me at the time. I could hear and feel all the snarky judgment of my internal skeptic breaking through all that silence.
Mind you, this trip was before Unity Church of the Hills was in my life. Today, meditation is second nature. But, in 2010, not so much. Still, throughout the week, I forced myself every evening to sit for the required 30 minutes of silence. But, I wasn’t buying it was the best use of my time.
When The Student Is Ready, The Mentor Appears
However, circumstances revealed a surprising unexpected benefit to these evening “sits” in silence. After the meditation period was over, we would have these inspiring conversations with the retreat leader. I really enjoyed that part of the evenings, and used the time to dig in deeper. My natural curiosity had me asking questions about her practices. The answers led to some enlightening discussions.
I learned of mystics, meditators, writers and modern thinkers, all prominent experts in the various fields of meditation and yoga. Some of these voices were also associated with “New Thought,” about which I knew very little. I was fascinated by my unexpected discovery, and I was eager to learn more. Before I knew it, I had a mentor, a former Chopra Center instructor that lived in Tennessee. She offered to continue supporting me in my learning when I got back home.
Finding My Spiritual Home
Each week, my mentor would phone me from her home to check in, always urging and motivating me to continue in my new meditation practice. I would often give her lame excuses for why I was unable to set aside time for meditation. Frankly, I wasn’t really putting in the effort I could have. Once I was gone from the retreat center, my enthusiasm declined. Still, she continued gently encouraging me.
In one of our weekly chats, she mentioned a “New Thought” church in Austin that I might enjoy. She felt I would meet some like-minded folks who were also interested in some of the same topics we had been discussing since the retreat center. This was my introduction to Unity Church of the Hills. I began attending Sunday services soon thereafter. It didn’t take long for me to notice that meditation was a routine practice at UCOH.
Since joining UCOH, a meditation practice has almost effortlessly developed in my life. First, there was the mini-meditations in church services. Then, I experienced “contemplative” practices in several classes I took while pursuing my LUT certification. Regular Sunday services, as well as my own “time outs” reinforced the practices and before I knew it, I had developed quite a regular meditation practice.
A Veritable Smorgasboard Of Meditations
Along the way, I have also learned there are different types of meditation practices. And, I became aware that one size does not fit all. There are many practices that are beneficial. Each one of us can find the combination that meets our needs and fits with our lifestyle. Over the years, my own practice has included a veritable smorgasbord of meditation types. For example, sometimes my meditations have been long sessions, particularly in workshops with Dr. Joe Dispenza. My current practice includes 5 minute “Om & Go” meditations that I have learned from listening to Tammy Lorraine’s podcast. Occasionally, I use one of the many guided meditations available on the free app, “10% Happier.”
No matter how much or how little, I now meditate every day. It doesn’t always take the same form. Even if I only do some mindful “strolling and noticing” in my neighborhood while walking the dog, I find a huge benefit from even 5 minutes every day, even if my goal was 30 minutes. I also insert mini-meditations into my waking hours. Standing in line for groceries, boarding an airplane, waiting to be seated at a restaurant, or a couple of minutes at a stoplight….all of these and more are now daily life opportunities to take a meditation break. These days, those moments are likely to find me more consciously focusing on my breath, being more mindful of my present moment experience. It’s like taking a mini-break from “doing-ness” to just simply be present.
If I Can Meditate, So Can You
If you are like the old me, and you think meditation might be impossible for you, don’t give up. It IS possible. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. As someone who once pooh-poohed meditation, it is a huge irony to find me now being an avid advocate. Yet, the benefits meditation has brought to my life are undeniable. Benefits in multiple areas of my life, including physical, spiritual, psychological, emotional and much more. To think, I never would have gotten here if I had insisted on pastries and wine in the French Alps, instead of saying yes to evening “sits” in the silence.
If you’ve not yet developed a meditation practice in your own life, or if you would like to reinvigorate a dormant practice, I encourage you to attend a meditations basics class coming up at UCOH in April. It will take place over two morning sessions, April 7 & 14 from 9:15 to 11:00am. Maybe you think you can’t meditate; or maybe you just want to see what all the fuss is about. Perhaps you are determined to begin a practice that sticks. Wherever you are with meditation, I invite you to come join in. You just may discover some new ideas that could change your life for the better. As a former reluctant skeptic myself, I guarantee it.