Relaxing About Meditation

Apparently this week is a series about my new self care routine and how I’m handling it. Neat!

I grew up doing Transcendental Meditation (TM) with my family, so that’s always been what “meditation” means to me. I knew other types of meditation existed, I just didn’t bother trying any of them for most of my life.

Then I attended a conference that covered entheogens, how brains work, and the nature of reality. The day of programming ended with a guided group meditation. That 10-minute experience was more profound and relaxing than almost any of my 20-minute TM sessions. (This may have had something to do with the shared nature of the experience — I recognize that.)

Ever since then I’ve wanted to explore other meditation options (especially since I haven’t found a ton of benefit from my TM practice over the last several years). I did try a “beginning meditation” course, but I bounced off the instructor so that wasn’t helpful. My brother gifted me a book that’s a guide to many different types of meditation, but I found I can’t really get into meditation via reading — it just doesn’t work for me. I know there are phone apps for guided meditation, but having to fiddle with my phone doesn’t appeal to me in terms of getting in the right head-space for meditation.

Then last week while I was lying on the yoga mat getting ready to do my TM practice, I had the bright idea to try asking my Google Home to play “10-minute guided meditation”, and bam! Instant guided meditation. Cool!

That’s when I ran into my next problem: my brain. (Why does it always have to be my brain?)

I’ve been doing TM on and off for over 30 years. Doing something else, especially something that takes less time, felt a little like failure. I know that a) not all types of meditation are right for all people at all times of their life, and b) the frequency of a meditation practice is more important than the duration of the sessions (at least according to that meditation teacher I didn’t like). But tell that to my damn emotions.

I did! I did tell that to my damn emotions.

They didn’t exactly listen. I still get an uncomfortable flutter in my stomach when I even think about doing something different from my decades-long routine, but I truly feel that changing things up will be better for me. I know that right now I’ll get more out of something different and a little more structured.

I will probably keep doing TM several times a week, but (especially in the morning when time is more precious) I’ve insisted to myself it’s ok to do something different and shorter. The ability to do this feels very akin to my triumph at learning to stop doing yoga when it hurts.

As I’ve said before, I’m not really into new year’s resolutions, so the fact that all this is coming together right at the beginning of 2020 is mostly coincidental. But maybe 2020 will be a year of learning to let go of behaviours that don’t serve me. Who knows?

And heck, if you do have recommendations for meditation apps, let me know in the comments (and let me know *why* you think they’re good). At some point I might be ready/willing to incorporate that extra step in my process. Gasp! Who am I even becoming?

(Someone better. Or at least healthier. That’s who.)

Letting Go of Perfection

This is a topic I come back to often — and in almost every aspect of my life. While there are some up-sides to being a perfectionist (I usually turn in pretty darn good work!), there are also plenty of down-sides. One of the biggest for me is I let my desire to get-things-just-right and do-them-completely get in the way of doing things at all.

I know I’m far from the first person to experience (or write about) this, so I’m not here to lecture you about it. If you deal with this too (and I know so many people who do!), you already know it. Instead, I’m here to celebrate a small way I’ve managed to let go — in a way I’ve never managed to achieve before.

Yesterday I wrote about how I’ve picked up my yoga and meditation practice again. Exercise of any sort tends to be a place where I get stopped up. When I finally make myself do it, I want to really *do it*. Then I hurt myself because I go too hard too soon. This has happened more times than I can count. (And I would have had to start counting several decades ago.)

This time I decided not to let that happen. Of course, deciding something and actually doing it are two different things — I’d made that same decision before and didn’t stick with it. This time, however, I’ve actually followed through, and I am honestly kinda giddy about it.

I am happy to report that I have cut short or significantly altered my yoga sessions four times. (I’ve only been at it for a little over a week, so this is a significant number.)

I’m not sure I’ve ever bragged about quitting before, but right now I totally am. Every time, I felt a muscle twinge or a nerve being pinched, I slowly came back to centre then called it quits for that session (or rested in child’s pose until the video moved onto something I thought I could handle). Could I have forged ahead and kept going without doing damage? Maybe. (But at least one of those times it was very unlikely.)

But why risk it? Is it worth it to finish that YouTube session with an instructor who doesn’t actually know I exist? My perfectionist brain says YES.

But I’m smarter than my brain.

Suck it brain — I’m taking care of myself.