My journey with meditation and stillness

Welcome to my first ever blogpost. My intuition has been nudging me to write for the past few months and I had acknowledged it but hadn’t taken action, partly because I didn’t know what to write. Over the past few days I have been through a major shift which is the culmination of a process that has taken years, probably my entire lifetime. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to write but I’m going to sit at my computer and see what comes. I’m going to start with what’s happened in one area of my life over the past 3 months.

I have had much more time for reflection over the past 3 months whilst the coronavirus pandemic has been in full swing and impacting the lives of most of humanity either directly or indirectly. For the first few weeks after the start of lockdown in the UK (and I’m not going to use the word lockdown again as I don’t like it), I watched the news of the unfolding drama almost obsessively and I found it difficult to focus on anything specific apart being with family and supporting my clients.

In mid-April I had the realisation that I used distractions such as busyness, “doing”, watching TV and scrolling social media to avoid sitting and being with myself to check in with how I was feeling. I knew deep in my soul that taking some time in stillness was key for me. At the time I wrote “It is only in stillness that I can get clarity as to what’s really going on.”

I made a commitment to meditate daily, something I had struggled with for many years to do regularly. It didn’t go very well, so taking the advice I regularly give clients, I decided to be gentle with myself and practise some self-kindness and compassion. I let myself off the hook a little by committing to meditate for only 5 days out of 7.  That was more successful, for 2 weeks I did meditate for 4 days out of 7. I had read so many books and articles about the importance of meditation and how transformative it is, which included the advice that having a routine time of day for the practice was useful and that first thing in the morning was the best time to meditate so I set an intention to do just that. I managed it for a few days but then something would happen, life would get in the way and I’d forget.

Whilst speaking to my coach, 6 weeks into the self-isolation period, I had a lightbulb moment: that I have never been very good at following other people’s rules and ideas. I had been attempting to implement a meditation practice following rules from external sources, well-meaning although they were and almost certainly effective for many people. I realised that I had a subtle resistance to establishing a routine instead of just allowing the practice to happen at a time that was right for me.

During this same period, I was listening to various podcasts and in one of them, someone, I can’t remember who, made the differentiation between meditation and sitting in stillness. I liked the idea of sitting in stillness as it seemed less onerous and to my mind carried less expectation as to the outcome. I cannot tell you the effect that reframing meditation into stillness had on me, in essence it is the same practice, but it gave me more scope, more permission, to just BE, whatever that BEING was in the moment.

In addition, I knew that I had to surrender to the possibility that stillness might not be what I needed at that time. This ah-ha moment was so freeing as it gave me permission to listen to my own intuition and what that told me was to be in a state of flow, not to set unrealistic targets that I wasn’t committed to and to just see what occurred. The next stage was to set aside any adherence to routine for sitting in stillness, instead to be curious and to tune in periodically throughout the day to see how I felt. Interestingly this didn’t result in me sitting in stillness any more frequently but when I did it felt authentic and not forced.

I also set aside any expectation that I would have insights, major breakthroughs or moments of enlightenment during my stillness practice. Ironically what happened was that I started occasionally writing in a journal after sitting in stillness, and at other times if I felt called to, and often insights appeared. Re-reading the third paragraph of this blogpost I have just had another realisation – that weeks ago my intuition gave me the word stillness and it wasn’t until I let go of the word meditation and reframed it as stillness that I moved forward with a process that is right for me, my soul and my reason for being here in this lifetime.

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