My ambitions to successfully meditate has, ironically, caused me much frustration in the past. For a while it was something I wish I could do, but started to feel incapable of… And so after attempting it many times over the years, I gave up and just decided that meditation wasn’t meant for me.
My mind is constantly moving, thinking, and working, to the point where I feel like I should write everything down before I forget something good. “I should tweet that someday,” I’ll tell myself before I go to write it in my Tweetlogix drafts… “I gotta remember that release date,” I’ll say before I go save it on my calendar…
I can have 100 things running through my head within just 15 minutes and without saying a word. Even when I’m asleep, I’m not actually asleep because I’m having wild dreams of events in which I wouldn’t even consciously imagine.
I started to feel like my brain activity was out of control, and so I began trying (and failing) to control it with meditation… But that was my problem — I was trying to control it, and I was trying too hard. My ambitions caused me to begin overthinking the act of not thinking.
I’ve read about it, googled facts about it, talked to people about it, watched episodes of Super Soul Sunday about it… But for some reason the only way I could relate to it was when Carrie Bradshaw from the Carrie Diaries was so obsessed with staying zen that she completely lost her shit… And I felt like that until I learned to stop pressuring myself to do it properly and decided to develop my own process for it.
I prefer to meditate early in the morning and sometimes at night. When I wake up, I’ll usually lay in bed at think about life and scroll through my timelines for about an hour (lol)… After I’ve had enough, I turn my phone on silent because it can, will, and does ring.
Then I turn on the Rain, Rain, Sleep app. I learned about this tool while watching a YouTube video, How To: Cope with Depression and Anxiety by It’sMyRayeRaye. The app includes various sounds of rain like thunderstorms, and when it hits the window, and even rain in the city. This was great for me because I seriously love rainy days the most… At morning, at night… It makes me super happy anytime.
Once I pick a sound, I set a timer for the app five minutes longer than I want to meditate. So if I want to meditate for 20 minutes, I’ll set it for 25 minutes. Since I haven’t been doing it for a long period of time, it still takes me at least 5 minutes to completely chill out.
Next, I close my eyes and start concentrating on my breathing. While I’m doing this, I try my best to relax my face because my forehead tends to get super scrunched up from thinking so hard about not thinking. The sound of my breathing is really noticeable at first, then it starts to fade, and I’m meditating!
When I’m done, I listen to Jhene Aiko (and well, I really listen to her all the time). She has been a big inspiration to me since like… my B2K super fan girl days, because I can connect so closely to her music.
As I’ll say probably a million times during my life, I find music to be one of the most powerful things in the world. Just one artist can inspire a large, diverse group of people with their messages. My sister told me, “Artists who believe in the power of their meaning bring their thoughts to life.”
In ways beyond their lyrics, artists such as Jhene promote meditation and healthy thinking; encouraging us to look at the bright side of bad situations and to see the world in different ways than societal standards have clouded our vision with.
In my opinion, the vibes from our already-existing energy, beliefs, and intentions have an effect on how we meditate. What are we aspiring to achieve through meditation? Peace? Success? Power?
In the book The Art of Power, Buddhist monk, Thich Naht Hanh, gave a definition of power and success from a more spiritual perspective, suggesting how we may be cheating ourselves of a peaceful state of mind:
“Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military might, and political control. My dear friends, I suggest there is another kind of power; the power to be happy right in the present moment, free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, anger, and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being, whether celebrated or unknown, rich or poor, strong or weak. Let’s explore this extraordinary kind of power…
All of us want to be powerful and successful. But if our drive to get and maintain power drains us and strains our relationships, we never truly enjoy our professional and material success and it’s simply not worth it. Living our life deeply with happiness, having time to care for our loved ones — this is another kind of success, another kind of power, and it is much more important. There is only one kind of success that really matters: the success of transforming ourselves, transforming our afflictions, fear, and anger. This is the kind of success, the kind of power, that will benefit us and others without causing any damage.”
Focusing and meditating on this alternate idea of power and success can guide us to peacefully bring our intentions and purpose to life. While a big reason for our grind is to attain and maintain professional success (we gotta eat, we gotta get money, we gotta keep progressing)… We don’t need to be stuck on the idea that draining ourselves is the only way to do it.
I went through a time like that before when my intentions weren’t aligned with my actions.
I’ve always genuinely wanted to do my own, ‘dreams and real life thing’… To be able to make money, but not at the expense of my happiness and creativity. Those were my intentions, but my actions brought me to another place where I was pursuing other things. I wasn’t completely off track, but I wasn’t completely where I wanted to be either.
And so… I began reminding myself of my purpose; what I really wanted to achieve in life. And then, I pursued meditation one more time.
I’ve only been successfully meditating for short time now… But the benefits of it have been pretty good. For one, it definitely helps my writing. I can construct my thoughts more clearly now than I could before; my flow is better.
Meditation has also improved my work ethic and I’ve gotten a lot of motivation back that I felt I lost after I graduated college. I’ve been able to clearly define my goals and identify what I need to do to accomplish them.
It has helped me deal with being overwhelmed from always feeling responsible for other people. I always want everyone in my life to be happy, and to be good, to the point where I stress myself out over trying to please everyone.
Not sure yet, but the physical health benefits of meditation are supposed to be good for me as well. I have an inflammatory bowel disease that flares up from stress, lack of non-REM sleep, poor eating habits, and such.. All of which I’ve been living with for a long time now.
Above all, meditation keeps me inspired. It makes me feel like a better version of myself; a more aware and positive soul.
I love the way my mind works, despite its intensity, and I’d never want to change that because makes me who I am. Meditation is just an organic way to take a break, temporarily escape to another place, and recharge.
Image courtesy: Phobymo Photography
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