Meditate or Ruminate
I’ve been trying to meditate.
Ok, fine, I did it once and the chatter in my mind ramped up to a whole new level! It was NOISY in there! And that was hard. And then I stopped.
A close friend of mine lives in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, doing aid work. Before moving there she spent three years living in war torn Afghanistan working with abused children. Her life has meaning. And also a lot of stress. We’ve been emailing recently about her eating, and her stress, and how to balance exercise, and food, and eating healthily when sometimes all that’s available to her is bananas. (I said just eat the bananas, and don’t try to cut out sugar while you’re over there as variety is more important when the food supply is so limited. Makes my Sydney thoughts about the next meal seem pale…)
We also talked about stress. This friend is a beautiful soul, really fun, always giving. But she said that she’s started to get ANGRY. This is not an angry girl! But she’s overworked, and tired, and her daily existence often reminds her of the horrors of humanity. And it’s building up.
So we discussed meditating ‘together’. We’d both try a couple of different techniques, do just ten minutes a night, and then check in with each other.
My first attempt I used an iPhone app, so I had something to focus on to bring my focus back when my mind wandered. In fact what happened was that I laid down for 10 minutes and talked to myself very fast for ten minutes, with every third thought or so trying to bring myself back to focus on my breathing or focus on the words in the app.
I read an article on Mindfulness on Sunday morning that described exactly what happened to me…
As soon as you take your seat or lie down to meditate, the first thing you will notice is that the mind has a life of its own. It just goes on and on; thinking, musing, fantasizing, planning, anticipating, worrying, liking, disliking, remembering, forgetting, evaluating, reacting, telling itself stories – a seemingly endless stream of activity that you may not have every noticed in quite this way until you put out the welcome mat for a few moments of non-doing, of just being.
um, hello endless mind-chatter!
He then goes on to say that:
On some occasions your thoughts might tell you how boring meditation is, how silly you were for thinking that this non-doing approach might be of any value, given that it seems to bring up a good deal of discomfort, tension, boredom and impatience. You might find yourself questioning the value of awareness, wonder, for instance, how awareness of how uncomfortable you are could possibly “liberate” you, or reduce your stress and anxiety, or help you in any way at all above and beyond just wasting time and succumbing to endless tedium.
That’s a pretty good explanation of my previous resistance to meditation! I can recall laughing at a friend (yep, nice) who was meditating a lot, and I totally didn’t get it! I mean, what’s the point of sitting in a room starting at a blank wall all day, just so you can exist to sit in a room starting at a blank wall all day. I think I may have missed the point.
The article goes on to say:
That is precisely why we need to become intimate with our minds through careful observation. Otherwise, thinking completely dominates out lives and colors everything we feel and do and care about.
I get that. Thinking dominates and sometimes we just need a bit of quiet in there. So I’m going to try again.
Ten minutes a day at the end of the day to close my day off and lead me quietly to the night. Will you join us virtually? Me in Sydney, my friend in Kinshasa, and you in the world…
Do you have any meditating tips or apps that I should try, as a beginner who finds it difficult to quiet my mind?
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