Recently I have been having a thought occur to me numerous times a day, and I’m guessing that many other people have the exact same thought at some time or other – ‘I really should meditate every day.’
I admit I have fairly good reason to think that. I meditated without fail every day for several years and I attribute that (at least in part) to my nothing-short-of-miraculous recovery from severe long-term depression. My mental muscles formed through daily meditation also helped me immensely when it came to coping with the experience of being a cancer patient. I am not questioning the value of meditation.
I used to attend meditation sessions with a group (which has now disbanded) in a nearby town. Usually when I bump into one of these people we will have the same discussion about how when you stop meditating, that’s when the wheels fall off everything. And that the more you need to meditate the less inclined you feel to do so. This is demonstrably true in my own life and seems to play out in the lives of others I talk to.
It seems meditating regularly is like depositing funds in to a savings account. If your life is sailing along fine, you may feel you have no need of practices that promote your peace of mind. But then something happens to stress you out and if you have not been training your mind to be peaceful, then you’re not prepared to handle unexpected crises that inevitably arise.
But lately I have let my practice slip. I still manage a session if I have time, but as soon as meditation (like anything) becomes an optional activity, then it starts to be neglected more and more frequently. When I was fighting tooth and nail for my sanity then meditation was my number one priority. As my mental wellbeing has improved I have become complacent and have seemingly forgotten how I achieved my stability in the first place.
A few wobbles appeared, but it was still all good. I just meditated every day for a while until I regained my balance, told myself I would re-establish my daily commitment and then once again allowed life to get in the way and started skipping days again.
Then I got to the point where I was getting angry and frustrated with myself and berating myself for my slack behaviour. A spiritual teacher told me that beating yourself up is one of the most efficient ways to lower your vibration, and these last few weeks I seem to have been finding that out for myself the hard way. Berating, judging, criticising and nagging myself swiftly sucked me into a downward spiral. The fact that I am trying to write a blog that encourages people to try not do that made it even worse. I can’t say my life spun out of control or anything dramatic, but I now had a source of annoyance and frustration which was draining my energy and starting to make me feel pretty crap.
Reasoning with myself, lecturing myself or trying to ‘hack’ my behaviour wasn’t working either. I do not need convincing that meditating every day is a good idea, but I just couldn’t quite get myself to do it. Maybe it’s a case of ‘should fatigue’. There’s a million little things I should do, and most of them I should do every day. I’m sure you know the feeling.
Funnily enough, my answer to ‘should fatigue’ is probably to meditate every day. A few minutes just getting still, getting clear and figuring out which ‘shoulds’ are the most important to me today. Without getting clear every day, I end up spending my time and energy on the things that are the most proficient at claiming my attention. That is entirely different from attending to the things that are most important to me.
I need to get clear on a daily basis else I tend to forget where I am going. I need those few minutes to be reminded. And the energy of each day is different. It may be vitally important for me one day to hold my tongue and then equally vital the next to express my concerns, but I need to tune into the feeling of that day to determine which action is appropriate.
And I love to meditate. I love to go within and get that zap of divine love that ignites me for the day. It’s not a case of whether I should or not. It doesn’t matter, no-one cares, the meditation police are not going to turn up on the doorstep to investigate reports of unspiritual behaviour at my address. Lots of people never meditate and they’re just fine and some of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet. It’s not about any of that. I can stop beating myself up, relax, and calmly choose to embrace a practice that I find useful and comforting and sparks joy and make it a top priority to ensure it happens. I’ll let you know how it goes!