Why giving up daily meditation was the best decision.
I have been a spiritual person from my earliest memories. My family of origin is rich in Christian heritage. I was taught to pray as a child and I always expected myself to have a daily time of meditation. I called it my quiet time.
In my 20’s I gave up daily quiet times. It was pre-kids. I had plenty of time on my hands. I would sit down in the mornings to begin meditation but I couldn’t make myself focus. My mind wandered, my feet tapped. I was frustrated with my lack of concentration. The more frustrated I got the more my mind would wander. Then when I got stressed or confused I would berate myself for my lack of successful ‘quiet times’. I felt like a spiritual failure.
What began my turnaround was a sticker on my friend's guitar case. “Obey your thirst!’. It was the most unspiritual piece of advice I had ever heard; it turns out it has been one of the most profound. I was not ‘thirsty’ for meditation time. It was as dry as Rivita for me. I was not hungry for tedious and repetitive ‘disciplines’. It felt like the medicine I was forced to swallow that tasted of herring juice! In fact, I could hardly discern any thirst in my inner world at all.
So I did it. I gave up meditation for good. It was a great decision.
This is where my thinking had gone wrong: I thought that structure = power. If I could only get the structure right I would have all the power I needed to become mature and fulfilled. I kept trying harder and harder with sticking to my discipline.
What I discovered was that desire + form = power.
My soul was needing to get back in touch with desire again. I had pushed down my desire for in favour of more structure. Once I freed myself from the restrictive expectation I could feel the desire again. Once I felt desire I could find a form for it to take. Any form that fitted; walking, lying, kneeling or sitting. Talking, silence, yoga, running. First thing, last thing, lunchtime. Any form is ok. There is no right way to be. No magic formula to fit into that guarantees the power to grow.
It took a year for my thirst to come back. And when it did I wasn’t interested in daily ‘quiet times’. I started finding that songs were a great source of meditative space. Walking was a hugely beneficial discipline. Podcasts, great TV even. I was meditating. It was happening without me even noticing.
Now there is barely a day that goes by without some form of stopping/contemplation and meditation. A car is a great place for me to meditate. Moving meditation is like a magic calming pill for my emotions. Song lists play seasonal favourites that rotate every few months while I cook the dinner. As I chop the onions I am meditating.
I hope you haven’t fallen into the structure=power trap. But if you have and meditation is really frustrating for you here is my advice;
Kill the expectation dead;
I took a whole year of spiritual practices.
Feed your desire;
Look for the signs if desire in your body. What makes you smile, what gets you excited? Mindfully allow thoughts of desire to arise and look for simple ways to satisfy them.
Find a form that fits;
Use your imagination and have a go. It’s all allowed. Don’t pre-judge your desire to ‘buy a packet of seeds and try and grow them’. Obey your thirst!
Don’t forget that this is the powerhouse of personal growth. You have got to enjoy it!