I’ve been interested in meditation for several years. That’s not to say that I’ve done much about that interest.
This began back when I was taking classes toward a nursing degree. My psychology professor invited a hospice nurse to speak to our class. I expected to be saddened or even frightened by what she had to say. Instead, this nurse oozed warmth and comfort. She talked not only about her job but also about her own experiences with death, caring for her husband while he died of cancer and choosing to take her son off life support after a terrible car crash.
Someone asked about how she handled such a stressful job, and she told us that she spent a half hour meditating each day. She seemed at peace with everything she had gone through. Now, maybe she was just built that way, but I latched on to the meditation idea.
My previous attempts at meditating have involved trying to follow instructions I find on the Internet. Trying to learn to meditate via the Internet is about like trying to learn to breastfeed via the Internet. This is very good for you! People have done this for generations! If it’s hard, just keep trying. But relax!
There are a lot of different ways to meditate, and I was never sure whether I was doing things correctly. Sometimes I focused on relaxing my whole body, which often led to my falling asleep. Was that success or failure? Other times, I focused on a single word, such as “peace,” but my mind quickly jumped to my very long list of other things I should be doing. Incidentally, if I ever write a book, I will call it “A Very Long List of Other Things I Should be Doing.” My mindset has always been work first, play later, often to my detriment.
A few weeks ago, I read an article about how meditation causes healthy changes in the brain. I’d been stressed about work and also vacation planning (Why is it so hard to find rental condos with cribs? Woe is me.). I felt like I was frazzled by things that weren’t that big a deal (read: vacation planning), and I wanted to give this meditation thing another try. I read a comment from someone using a site called Headspace, and I signed up for a free trial.
The trial comes with ten days of guided meditation, and each session takes just 10 minutes. The guide talks through some breathing exercises and gives gentle instructions about paying attention to how your body feels. It’s similar to the beginning or ending of a yoga class. I’ve been meditating for five days, though I probably can’t count the night that Henry screamed through my entire meditation as Greg tried to coax him into a diaper and pajamas.
I haven’t noticed any major changes yet, but I feel much more relaxed after I complete a session. I need to decide whether I want to pony up for access to the rest of the meditation offerings on the site. I think that paying for it could help me commit to sticking with this. On the flip side, I already spend a significant portion of my time exercising and cooking healthy meals, and I have to draw a line somewhere on this healthy living thing so that I can work and raise my kids and watch the finale of Downton Abbey. If it’s possible to be too focused on health, I am tilted in that direction. I need to put all of this good health to use, you know?
Maybe I will reach greater enlightenment on this subject after my ten full days of meditating.