The practise of meditation is like any other skill. It takes time to develop the skills to enter the present moment, still our mind and balance our emotions in a world where we are constantly being stimulated by our five senses; torn out of the present by a material need for survival.
Many people have told me lately they feel as though they are living in the fight, flight, freeze state. The stress of everyday life becomes a habitual state to live in. Our brains literally become wired, chemically and neurologically we become used to acting and responding to situations instinctively; we function on autopilot. Our learned behaviour, our habitual way of thinking and feelings override the desire to be calm.
So what can we do? When we know HOW we want to feel but struggle on a daily basis to get there?
For me, meditation has been the process of finding that beat before the thought, the instant before we attach to a feeling. Meditation gives us the ability to rest in the moment and witness the thoughts and feelings as they come and then, we give ourselves the ability to choose. We realise that the thoughts and feelings we experience are not who we are. You are not an “anxious person”, you are used to those feelings.
We are creatures of habit, in constant motion. Constantly receiving and projecting thoughts out onto the world around us. Meditation gives us the moment between receiving and projection. It trains our ability to observe our thoughts, our feelings, release the built-up unbalanced feelings and redirect ourselves to the intention of balance, peace and connection.
Some people struggle with meditation at first. I was one of those people. When I first started practising meditation in 2007, I did it with the desire to understand my thoughts. Emotionally I was up and down, some days I would feel great, other days I found just getting out of bed a struggle, sometimes those days would stretch on. Coming from a family with a history of depression, I was determined not to lose control of my mind and at the same time deeply believed in our human ability to direct and control our thoughts. Even so, I found it hard to just close my eyes and sit still. I had things to do. Things to think about. And my rebellious mind would instantly fill with everything from todo lists to fantastic ideas. I would be concentrating on everything except the meditation. But the practice was there, I continued every day and slowly instead of 20 thoughts a meditation, it might be 18, then 15. I remember the first time I ever experienced a meditation where I concentrated completely and didn’t have a single thought other than what I was focusing on. When I opened my eyes and returned back to my physical body I felt as though I was returning to a different body. Rushes of warmth and total relaxation filled me. Some days I would go back to head full, no focus but slowly over time, I began to develop to the ability to settle my thoughts, relax into a state of presence and allow myself to concentrate of the beats of my heart and the rhythm of my breath.
So my tip for today’s meditation is that every seed planted will grow, some may take longer than others, but simply showing up to yourself, giving time to tune-in, connect to the stillness and presence of each breath will help you to break free from the instinctive fight, flight, freeze reflex, which limits our energy and literally restricts the way we see the world. As the cortisol that floods our body in stressful situations also trigger “tunnel vision” that narrows our focus to escape the ‘danger’ but doesn’t allow us to access the creative, expansive part of ourselves. This means we make our decisions based on fear rather than possibility and more often than not, the ‘danger’ we are feeling is perceived and not a real-time experience, meaning we are flooding our body with the chemicals it needs to react to a stressful situation NOW, where in reality the situation is something we are recalling from the past or projecting on the future. Therefore these stressful feelings don’t serve us in the moment and cause a build-up of tension mentally, emotionally and physically.
This mediation, the tranquil garden is a lovely meditation to practice that can help you construct a place inside your mind that you can travel to any time, planting the seed of tranquillity in your mind and heart.
Much love and light