As a child raised in Buddhism, I had a hard time understanding and enjoying meditation. It wasn’t until I faced a life crisis that I opened my mind to this self-care practice.
As an adult, I feel so fortunate to have learnt about the concept of meditation as a child. Growing up in Thailand, we had a Buddhism class during which we would spend 10–15 minutes meditating. I can tell you that it was not my favourite moment of the week.
For me, then, meditation meant sitting still on the floor and keeping up with a mantra as we breathed in and out. What torture! The only fun we got out of this was peeking at each other and seeing who would fall asleep or making other kids laugh and get in trouble with our teacher.
Needless to say, I did not meditate outside the classroom. Why would I want to do that?
All of this changed in 2016, when I rekindled my relationship with meditation and, essentially, myself as part of my burnout recovery. I still recall the first meditation practice after two decades of absence. I rebuilt my meditation practice from a one-minute guided session as part of a 20-day meditation series. Every day, an extra minute was added to the session until we reached Day 20.
The first ten days were mostly agonising for me. There were times I was angry, screaming inside, frustrated, crying, asking myself why I did this and disappointed that I could not just be zen-like and cruise through a session. So many thoughts made me question what point there was in sitting still with all these thoughts and emotions instead of just going to bed. The ending bell could not ring soon enough.
Then, Day 11 came. I finally made peace with the practice. And then, there was Day 20. I completed the 20-day meditation series with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. If you had an experience with burnout, you know that keeping up with something, regardless of how small it is, is a big deal.
When came time for me to return to work, I traded my usual working-while-commuting morning routine for meditation and journaling. It helped me stay centred and set my intention for the day.
Now, in this season of my life, as a mother of two miracles, finding structured alone time can be challenging. So, where am I with my meditation practice? Well, do you have a friend whom you let into your house despite how messy it is? That is the state of my current relationship with meditation. Our relationship has become more understanding and compassionate. There is no guilt, shame or penalty if I do not make time for a proper session. All I need to do is show up in any shape or form.
I have previously shown up when feeling angry, frustrated, chaotic, calm, curious, happy, relieved, and more. There is no judgement here. There is no rule regarding how I should arrive at my meditation space. What counts is that I prioritise my well-being and personal development.
𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝘆 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗿𝗲𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻:
1. 𝗗𝗿𝗼𝗽 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 of how meditation should look or feel. Show up as you are. Do it your way.
I have shown up sitting upright on a chair with my feet flat on the floor. I have also shown up sitting upright on the floor — the kind of pose you will see when searching for meditation images on Google. I have also shown up lying down in bed. I have shown up wearing my nighty or regular clothes. It does not matter how I show up. What is important is showing up for myself and giving myself that precious space.
In a world where we seem to overrate ultra-productivity and ‘getting somewhere’ in life, I find peace knowing that for that short span of time — if my toddler allows me that time — , I do not have to be anything for anyone or go anywhere but within.
2. 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘆 𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗻-𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗱
I love the flavours of meditation. I usually meditate to a guided meditation. I choose which practice I need for the day: self-compassion, forgiveness, deep listening and intention setting, among many others. It is like assorted chocolate for the soul. I remain curious about what areas I need to tend to, and I observe thoughts and learning that may come up. That is how I keep my practice interesting. I find it refreshing that different messages come to the forefront, even when using the same guided meditation record. It is like discovering a new café in your hometown.
3. 𝗔𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄 𝗮 𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸-𝗶𝗻
It does not have to be a dedicated time and space. A simple promise I made to myself is that if I see synchronistic numbers, like 1:11 or 11:11 on the clock, I will close my eyes and focus on my breath, asking what I need right now and listening if anything comes up until the numbers change. Of course, I do not do that when I am driving. This habit helps me ground myself and reassess my needs during the day. It is like a little secret to keep things light and fun.
I do not consistently meditate as I would hope, but it is so rewarding when I make time for it.
And you, do you meditate? I am curious to read about your experience with meditation.