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Turning Back to Meditation

September 9, 2012

When I first started high school, aged 11, I was put in a class full of naughty boys. For that first year we took most of our classes together, except for maths and science where we were setted according to ability. That meant that I spent a lot of time with the naughty boys, who were loud, disruptive and drove our teachers batty, and even reduced them to tears on several occasions. As a shy goody-two-shoes this really stressed me out and it made the first year at high school a big adjustment. Luckily, I also made some good friends in that class and we got through it together, and in later years the majority of our classes were setted according to ability, so I escaped the chaos.

Our religious education teacher, Ms Webb, was one of the many teachers that had to put up with us. I imagine that trying to teach us about Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism when most of the class were intent on making her life miserable was a very tall order. Yet Ms Webb had a trick up her sleeve – meditation.

When she’d had enough she would get us to sit with our heads on the desk and our eyes closed while she very calmly repeated:

“Breathe in, two, three, four … hold your breath … breathe out, two, three, four”

And it worked, no-one said a word during these sessions, which was some kind of miracle. From a personal point of view I enjoyed the opportunity to chill out and it stayed with me. Occasionally, when I was nervous, or couldn’t get to sleep I would use her technique to calm me down.

I haven’t meditated for years, probably not since I left school, but lately I’ve felt like I need that sense of calm again. It’s not that there’s anything major going on and my life is ticking along fine, but I still get a ball of anxiety in my chest. My mind races ahead to the next thing that I have to do, or something that’s happening later in the week, month, year etc. It gets ridiculous sometimes when I find myself worrying about what I’m going to have for lunch in two days time. I’m sure it’s quite normal, but I’m starting to feel very frustrated with myself and want to able to enjoy the moment and not be one step ahead of myself all the time.

So, I’ve started meditating again. After reading a few different articles on the internet I’ve decided to start of simply, so every morning after a few yoga stretches I settle down cross-legged on the floor. I happen to love sitting cross-legged and would sit like that all the time if it was practical, but a lot of people don’t like it, so it’s fine to sit in a chair. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths while becoming conscious of my body and how each part of it feels, trying to relax my muscles where I find tension.

I breathe slowly through my nostrils, counting each breath up to 30 and then count backwards back to 1. Whenever my mind wanders I bring it back by concentrating on how the breath feels – is it cold or warm, is it relaxed? I started off by meditating for 5 minutes (I set the alarm on my phone), but I’ve built up to 10 minutes now. When I’ve finished I open my eyes slowly and take time to think calmly and logically about what my next actions are without worrying about what needs to be done later.

I’ve not been meditating long enough to assess the benefits, but it feels good during and immediately after and I feel like it sets me up for a good day. I’m sure the way I practice will evolve, but I think this is a good place to dip my toes back into the meditative waters.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2012 11:10 am

    I really find meditation helpful. I use a little smartphone app called Buddhify which has a series of short guided meditations, it definitely helps my focus!

  2. September 9, 2012 2:39 pm

    Oh God, your description of those boys sounds exactly like my experiences in secondary school (I am not cool enough to describe something as high school!) Only said boys tended to abuse me physically and mentally (tell me what kind of male thinks it’s okay to punch a girl in the back of the head?) I don’t think even meditation would have saved me then.

    My inability to switch off is one of my biggest downfalls (of many) I have just too many thoughts to meditate properly and that’s probably a big reason why I never get anything done or focus on my work – it’s so hard to think clearly enough to brush my teeth, let alone do anything remotely academic!


  3. September 9, 2012 6:21 pm

    Its funny you’ve posted this today as I’ve just came home from a weekend Reiki course which featured a lot of meditation. I know I’ll be doing a lot of it from now on. Having a teacher doing guided meditations with us was a great experience as well. One of the things we are looking to do with one of my new companies is perhaps to teach some meditation in schools (not me but my Reiki master business partner!) I think a lot of young people and kids would really benefit from it 🙂

  4. September 9, 2012 9:44 pm

    I had a very similar experience of secondary school and for the most part could not stand it! The boys got particularly bad in the latter years of school when they started to discover ‘sexuality’. So glad those years are well and truly in the past!

    Anyway, on to meditation. I fell in love with the idea back in year 5 of primary school when we visited a Buddhist Centre. I love the calm and peace it brings and I liked the things that went with it like a very clean simple room with incense. I got back into meditation a few times, particularly last year at uni and I’d really like to start again. Reading this has made me decide to meditate tomorrow morning and see how it goes 🙂

  5. September 10, 2012 5:29 am

    I’d have been very intimidated by those boys too, they sound a nightmare.
    This sounds good to me because I’m a worrier and spend all day rushing from one thing to the next; even when I get home in the evenings, I’m rushing so I get to bed in time! I think some meditatioon is definitely what I need 🙂

  6. September 23, 2012 6:38 pm

    It’s really great to hear that you’re back into meditation 🙂 There are so many benefits to regular meditation, even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes a day. As well as ‘formal’ meditation (sitting on a mat), I also love to meditate while I’m running. Rather than focusing on my breathing (which is probably going way to fast for a relaxing meditation!) I mentally recite mantras (one of my favourites being ‘om mani padme hum’ which is the mantra for the Buddha of Compassion). I recite the mantra in time with my running pace. I also do mental visualisations while I run. So those 30 minute quick runs I’m doing each morning are benefiting me in so many different ways. As well as getting fitter, I feel mentally more relaxed, I’ve got more clarity and, as a result, my days are way more productive.
    I also meditate when I’m in queues, traffic jams, etc. It’s a great way of making use of otherwise ‘wasted time’, or time where I would be dwelling on stuff.

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