Hi everyone! Today I thought I would take lead from Rich’s post on expectation and write something about my experiences with my expectation from meditation.
When I started meditating I was in the midst of a chronic illness that led to a huge amount of anxiety in my life. My mind was constantly in overdrive, thoughts whizzed around my head like a fruits in a blender only the result was definitely not a delicious smoothie but a whole lot of worry and, you guessed it, more thoughts. Months and months of trawling the internet looking for a cure for my ‘condition’ (which, incase you were wondering, was probably the most stress-inducing part of it- I diagnosed myself with at least 7 fatal conditions in 6 months time) eventually led me to the conclusion that if I was ever going to get 'better' I needed to stop believing every thought that popped into my head and running away with the many nightmare scenarios that were playing like a scratched dvd of a terribly dull (not to mention badly scripted) film.
When I stumbled across meditation in one of my nightly cyberspace ramblings it seemed to offer everything that was going to stop the collective of hyperactive cartoon characters that seemed to have taken up residency in my head. Meditation promised calm, clarity, relaxation and the ability to get to sleep at night- meditation, I decided, was going to completely change my life and it was going to happen pretty much overnight. So with that in mind I started meditating, and boy, did I try hard at meditating. I sat for an hour a day feverishly trying to rid my head of thoughts, holding onto every moment of calm that came about and desperately trying to rid my mind any thought that I deemed stressful. I would finish each session more frustrated than I had started it and after about 2 weeks time of waging war on my mind I started thinking that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this meditation thing, maybe I was actually too wired and crazy and that whilst other people may have benefited from it I was doomed to battle my anxiety for the rest of my life.
This was when I met Andy and he explained to me that meditation was not a quick-fix solution that could stop my mind, rather, it is a growing ability to sit with thoughts, watch the mind, to help change perspective in situations and not take every anxious thought so seriously. To my relief, he also told me that starting with an hour of meditation a day was a pretty big feat for someone who had never practiced. This really helped me shift my idea of meditation being an instant cure-all wonder trick to a skill that I could learn and integrate into my life. With less pressure on my practice, after some time I began to see little changes in my reaction to my illness and the anxieties that came with it. Sure I still felt pretty crappy a lot of the time but increasingly I was ok to be with the crappiness, relax around it and not let it spin me into downward spiral of stress and anxiety.
Today I am pretty much healthy and whilst I am still learning things everyday and sitting with my thoughts sometimes still feels really difficult the gradual increase in the stability of my mind has allowed me to deal with my illness in a way that I never thought possible when I was in the stormy midst of it all. Meditation did not provide and instant ‘cure’ for my condition but helped me relax around my anxiety, helped me accept what I was going through and for me, this was by far the most important step in my recovery.
To watch our animation on expectation click here