I’ve been practicing meditation since 2012. I have stepped up every day to meditate often with a variety of practices and lengths of time. I have meditated once a day, twice a day or even three times a day.
I can think of only a handful of times when I didn’t turn up for a day to meditate, this was usually when I was sick. I would meditate on holiday, at work or even in the car to ensure it was a task I was able to tick off for myself.
If you follow any other meditation teacher or listen to experts in the field, you will consistently hear that meditating is a daily ritual to ensure you see the benefits like being in a calmer state of being, becoming more compassionate, and building resilience when faced with challenges.
As a meditation teacher myself, I have stated the need for practice on a daily basis to all my clients in workshops and classes. I prided myself on my discipline to my practice and a role model to those who start to practice meditation.
Over the past year my practice has been essential for me to regain clarity in the world of viruses and climate change. Each topic generates bouts of anxiety and fear which seeps into our lives and collectively as a community of humans.
We hear all the doom stories from the media, which seem to heightened the fears within each of us. As this year has gone on I have found myself more weary and found little comfort in the daily ritual of meditating. I found myself questioning my practice, wondering what the benefit was to me now.
Despite these questions swirling around in my head, I still woke up early each morning before my family woke up, sat in my chair and set a timer for my usual practice of meditation. Instead of finding my inner peace, I was finding resistance and an unsettling discomfort feeling.
After talking with a friend she mentioned that I should stop meditating for a while, to give myself a break and see what happens. This made me think about whether I could stop, it’s been a daily practice for 9 years, how can I not show up every day.
What would happen if I stopped meditating?
One of the reasons I started to practice meditation was for my mental health, to help me deal with constant worrying, anxiety and depression, you can listen to more on this in a podcast I did with Essex Live here or in the online article here.
I started to fear that all my good work would start to unravel and I would be back to square one.
Then I started to realise that I was meditating for fear of losing myself and my mental health, and making it a task to do instead of surrendering to the journey of meditation rather than fearing the destination.
So this August I took a two week break from meditation completely, no sitting or walking or being in the state of meditation.
It was blissful, quiet and serene as there was no pressure from myself to do my daily practice and show up. This also included journaling as I use this as a way to release my thoughts, feelings and seeing them on paper helps me to see how fleeting and unimportant they are, when inside me they feel so huge that I am unable to carry them.
What happened after a day or so, was my meditation practice started to filter into my day as if all the work I had done for the past few years started rising to the surface to be used in everyday experiences.
Since then I have become consciously aware of myself and my thoughts and feelings, and a deep relaxed peace came from inside me. This feeling carried through each moment, as an undercurrent to my day. I started to find more ways to relax into each moment and noticed that my mind had become so very still and quiet.
This made me feel as if I was drifting into each moment but not on autopilot but with the actual presence of everything that was happening.
As each day passed, I was in an act of surrender more deeply than I have ever surrendered before. I was alert but there was a process of letting go of expectations, desires and goals of what I want to be and how I want to feel, a way of letting everything rise up without getting stressed over the prospect of unravelling.
I found that I had become regimented to meditation
My practice had become so disciplined that it left no room for movement and flow within the standards I had set, and looking back had created an impossible way to live within my practice.
I constructed a version of me in the future that was superhuman, who used meditation to become someone who was setting up a destination to arrive at.
Now I have been able to watch the more relaxed me be more open and flexible to how I want my practice to go in the future, to show up each day for whatever I feel I need in the moment rather than a strict plan.
I want more ease in my life and seeing how it flowed so generously in letting go, and surrendering it’s something I will work more on rather than trying to use meditation as a way of getting to a goal of being more calm and at peace. I know that version of me, more relaxed, is always within me, but I don’t need to strive or push myself to get there through rigid practice.
I am back in my meditation practice and arriving at my seat each morning brings me joy, but no stress of what I want to evolve out of the practice but just see what arises. If I don’t feel like practicing one day, then I will allow myself the space needed and find my practice will emerge through me.