To celebrate my current streak of 365 days of meditation (and counting!), I want to (re)share with you how it all started, how it was lost and found, how a good-day mediation feels like for me and finally how the so-called bad days of unsuccessful meditation are often actually my best meditation sessions.
You never forget the first time you meditated.
I was ten or eleven years old. I came across this CD with an orange lotus flower on the cover, and just one guided relaxation on it. It lasted twenty minutes, and it made me travel far beyond I could imagine. But then, I put it away and didn’t come back to meditation for a number of years.
Meditation is simple, but not easy.
As with all practices, it takes consistency.
To keep on track, I often find inspiration in books. An effective little one like Calm by Michael Acton Smith (on Amazon US or Amazon UK), can help familiarizing with the techniques and getting in the right mood.
There are good days when the experience of letting go and just being comes very naturally. Breathing in and out, and simply listening to the breath, the rising and falling of your body, your neck tall, the face muscles relaxed and an open chest, allowing happiness to shine upon you.
In the best meditation sessions, I am centered. I am holding my space and my presence and I am in contact with my core.
But then, sometimes, there are those bad days.
Days when the white noise of the dishwasher is a reminder of the chores you still have to do.
Days when the people passing by your window are a distraction.
Days when the face of someone who has been rude to you keeps popping up underneath your closed eyelids. And you are suddenly aware of having thoughts. You try then to send love to the rude person and resist your own thoughts – but, let’s be honest, it doesn’t always work out beautifully.
And yet, the bad days are the most important ones for the practice of meditation.
The bad days are my most precious teachers. I learn to be humble. I learn to persevere.
Bad days allow me to see my own resistance and then be able to let go of it. If I meditated to my best – and of course I did, as all of us always do the best we are capable of doing in that specific moment – well then, that’s enough.
I am enough when I meditate.
This is the number one spiritual benefit of meditation – experiencing the oneness of ourselves with everything around us.
Writing a mindfulness journal can be a great practice. I particularly like I am here Now by The Mindfulness Project (for sale on Amazon US and Amazon UK). As the book states, it contains cues and tools to help you approach your moment-to-moment experience with a renewed sense of curiosity – and document it with creativity.
The numerous scientific benefits of meditation are widely recognized and I will write soon about them, so look out for future posts on this topic!
For me, though, it is not just a question of scientifically proven bullet points.
I meditate, simply, because it helps me being a better person.
When I meditate, I am a better parent. I have more patience with my children, I understand them more, and I can put myself in their shoes more easily.
Meditation also makes me sculpt better. And paint better. The level of deep concentration that I reach while sculpting or painting is something that I have learnt from meditation.
I am a far better partner for my husband thanks to my meditation practice.
Meditation encourages compassion, generosity, creativity, resilience, and enhances an open heart. If this is not a love potion, what is then?