It’s been a while since my last blog post. Primarily that has been due to my own resistance to writing it. In the last 6 months or so my life has taken me in a direction I’ve been unsure of myself, into a big unknown and one that I’m quite certain was laying me open to ridicule. Ridicule that I have been keen to avoid.
So yes, I go to an amazing Mindfulness class every Monday evening. And yes, I meditate for at least 20 minutes every day. And yes, if I don’t go to yoga three or four times a week I start to get anxious. I’m only a very short way in to my journey but already I am fascinated by it and keen to learn more.
One aspect of this journey is that it is so very alien to my childhood. I was brought up a ‘christian’. I put it in inverted commas because essentially it meant we went to church every Sunday. Even as a child there were aspects of it that I questioned, but I think I knew that I would not be satisfied with the answers I was given. When I left home for university it was put on the back burner and I rarely visited church. There are two instances where I tried it again, one I must admit has been quite recently, but on both occasions it has again raised more questions than answers. I sat and looked at the people around me and wished that I could be so certain in my faith, but then it began to feel like I was forcing it, because I should, not necessarily because it was right for me. Bizarrely, one thing that really did resonate with me was the history of the American West. I taught it at GCSE (even at that level I suspect I know more than the average American) and one aspect that always stood out for me was the way that the Native Americans approach death. They believe that life goes full circle and they return to the earth upon death and so when they became too elderly or ill to continue with the tribe they would be left behind. It was a decision they made when the time was right. It often caused great discussion with the class because it is so alien to the way we would judge what is appropriate in death.
I’ve always been interested in alternative therapies. I often felt that the medical options provided to me at various points in my life didn’t quite do the job I needed them to do. Taking a drug that I was told ‘seems to work for this condition’ didn’t really work for me. I have used Homeopathy, investigated Bach Flower Remedies, use Aromatherapy, go to Reflexology and also visit a Kinesiologist. Yes, I know I have opened the door to yet more ridicule, but I might as well get it out there all at once! At different times in my life different therapists have crossed my path and I would say in all confidence that they were there for a purpose that needed to be fulfilled at that time.
But now I have arrived at meditation and mindfulness. From my initial reading I have discovered the following:
- As I have mentioned before, it does have a scientific basis and I do like that about it. Now, you could argue that given I embrace alternative therapies so enthusiastically, why does that matter? It matters because for once I have science to back my madness up. For once I am not spouting nonsense. Google neuroplasticity if you don’t believe me!
- Multi-tasking doesn’t work (see Cleveland Clinic for a simple explanation). The same science has figured this out. All that multi-tasking does for you is make the stress you are putting yourself under even worse. You end up doing several jobs inefficiently, rather than doing one job well. It’s not a skill that is good for you. I’ve spent many days running around in circles getting nothing done despite a to do list as long as my arm. It’s not boring to do one job at a time, it’s efficient! Don’t get me wrong I really struggle with this. My mind darts from one thing to another, I struggle to make a cup of tea without getting side-tracked to something else instead. I am trying, to focus on one thing at a time, to just put my face cream on and focus on the textures and the smells and not to try to do a million other things at the same time.
- Happiness is now. It’s not when you get your new car, or your new job, or a new pair of shoes. Even when / if you do get those things you cannot guarantee that it will make you happier. That isn’t to say that you still shouldn’t strive for those things – just don’t depend on them to make you happy, because once that initial rush of dopamine has died, you will be the same you in a new car.
- It’s much harder than I imagined it would be. I like a quick fix. This is not going to be quick!
- Trying to approach situations without agenda is really difficult. My brain is wired to expect things – how people will react to me, how I will react in a given situation. Just noticing the situation and not being drawn in is a bit of a challenge.
I am at the very beginnings of this journey and there is so much more to investigate, but as with other things I have tried in the past at this time there are several aspects of meditation that resonate with me and I can already see small positive changes.