On day 43 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored meditation as a way to support the cognitive dimension of my practice.
Meditating is a practice that has always intrigued me. Until recently, the few times I’d tried it (or at least thought I was trying it) I felt completely disappointed. I would spend the entire time thinking about what I should be thinking about. Or feeling. Or doing. The truth is that I was uncomfortable sitting with myself in stillness – without having something to “do.”
At times I felt frustrated, trying to convince myself that I should be doing something more productive than sitting idle with my swirling thoughts.
And then I read Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go, There You Are (Amazon Associate Link). In it he writes that meditation is not about “trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.” Those few words were exactly what I needed to release my unrealistic expectations about what I should be experiencing, and simply accept it for what it is: a gift to myself.
He also describes the practice of meditation as “a time for non-doing,” which he defines as “letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way.” In our busy culture, it seems we aren’t comfortable with ourselves unless we’re doing something. We feel guilty or lazy when we take time for ourselves.
I recently bought a meditation pillow to begin developing my own practice. While I’m still figuring out how to incorporate it regularly, I’ve learned that the process of meditation, which Kabat-Zinn refers to as “watching thought itself,” isn’t something everyone experiences the same way.
Since my earlier attempts, I’ve come to understand that each of us takes a different path. It’s impossible to guess what may be discovered along that path – but that’s all part of the intrigue.