23. Meditate

I envy people who meditate regularly. It sounds so nice to be able to clear ones mind and absorb the quiet. I find that whenever I take a moment of quiet, that is the signal to my brain to start the to-do list. So, the skill of clearing ones mind is impressive to me. On a recent vacation, I read the book Eat, Pray, Love (I say recent vacation... the vacation was over a year and a half ago... this tells you how often I "vacation"). I was particularly intrigued in the Pray portion of the book. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert studied at an Ashram in India and engaged in marathon chanting and meditation sessions. She honestly shared her experience in such an accessible way. I believed then that I could benefit from meditation. I still believe that now (key word: benefit).

I have monkey mind. The term "monkey mind" is a Buddhist term that means, "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable." Apparently I have ordered a big whopping serving of all of the above. I seriously think that the only time my mind is quiet is when I am asleep - and even then, I am working out some crazy stuff with the insane and vivid dreams that I cook up. Is it possible that I just can't meditate?

Listen, I tried. I really really tried. I have a podcast downloaded on my ipod with 3 different meditation programs. They are about 20 minutes each. I set aside the first 20 minutes of my son's nap time each day to meditate. Every day, within five minutes, I was sawing logs. Napping. Sleeping. Soundly. The tinkly music and calming voice still playing in my ear as though I was achieving my goal, when the only goal I was achieving was rest. I don't think I succeeded in actually meditating.

I might have known I wouldn't be cut out for this. When I was practicing yoga regularly, that could have been the closest I have ever gotten to meditation without falling asleep. Still, my mind would wander to different "problems" that I felt I needed to work out, like what to have for lunch, or where my lost pink crocs (which I am not at all ashamed of) have disappeared to, or perhaps most importantly, when I was going to catch up on all of my TIVO. I can't be the only one this happens to. So here is my question, and I honestly don't know the answer, does my effort count? I mean, the fact that I set aside the time, and tried to get into a meditative state (whatever that is) - even though I only achieved sleep (which I also really needed), does that count? I am not calling this a failure, because I tried. I still believe that I could benefit from meditation, but maybe I'm just not cut out for it. Or maybe I need a class. As long as I don't have to get graded, I'm all for it!

Here's where I get stuck, I like my monkey mind. I thrive on the quick pace of my brain. I get excited by the many thoughts that pass through by the minute. I think my mind is so much a part of who I am. I don't know that I want to calm it. I don't know that I want to hit the mute button on what makes me... me. Maybe I don't want to meditate at all. Maybe I think I "should" and that's why I gave it a try. I admire people who meditate and can find that calm in their lives, but I am afraid that that kind of calm would change all the things I love about myself. I am getting better at spotting these "shoulds" in my life. Acknowledging the times I tried something because I felt like others wanted it for me more than I wanted it for myself. When I make decisions based on other people's desires for me, I never am satisfied. True satisfaction only comes when I fulfill my OWN needs and desires.

Lesson learned: I can admire other's ability to do something, and not have to do it myself. Not have to even WANT to do it myself.

Next week, I am going to see my city like a tourist.


  1. Hey, Colleen - I don't know the state of your spiritual relationship w/Jesus but I noticed you have used the term Christian so I'm just going to suggest you think about meditating as a Christian would. Rather than 'emptying' the mind, you 'fill' your mind with the wonderful truths and images of Christ. For example, you take something like Psalm 23 and as you repeat the passage (in your head, or out loud, or just recall it throughout the day), you let your mind fill up with the meaning of having a good shepherd who provides everything for you. You imagine resting beside still water, being fed at a banquet table, protected from harm, etc. So, your monkey mind is supposed to be quite engaged and active, only instead of planning or worrying or wondering you are focusing and enjoying and deepening. Just a thought...

  2. I, too, have played around with various meditation and reflection techniques to center myself and start my day off on the right foot. And I keep coming back to the conclusion that it's important to follow your energy and go with what feels right for YOU. It's been 10 years since I took a meditation class and I still aim to "make it fit." But right now it's not workin' for me. So there are other things I do.

    The important piece is that whatever you do...it has to call to you. Good for you for giving yourself permission to not "have" to do things a certain way! Only you can know what's best for you. :)


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