This post originally appeared on Folk Rebellion.
I've been told on numerous occasions that I should try to meditate.
I've always been a cynic, complaining that it was too hard and that I just couldn't sit still for that long. Whether I was thinking about my crush texting me or how much I'd really like to eat some tacos, getting my mind to just stop and be still felt downright impossible.
I tried reading books, sitting still, laying down, closing my eyes and what I would find were these three things:
1. My back would start to fucking ache - how do you expect me to sit cross-legged with my back straight when I naturally walk around all day like a troll with resting bitch face?
2. I would think about something else, anything else - food, my phone, my crush, extracurricular activities with said crush. Not in that particular order. Okay, maybe in that particular order. Because. Tacos.
3. Impatience - really? It's only been 3 minutes? UGHHH, c'mon, Netflix awaits my undivided attention.
With every new hobby, there is almost always a catalyst that ignites a feeling of motivation to do something new and good for the soul.
And so the truth is, I got dumped. Completely unexpected. It wasn't that long of a relationship but it was enjoyed and cherished with legroom to grow. But suffice it to say, some things just don't work out. And that's okay. (Oh, I'm kind of dying inside).
Naturally, I was sad. Not upset at the other person, but sad and confused about where all of these feelings of pain and hurt were coming from. What was the real reason for feeling hurt? What was the root cause for all of these similar behaviors in my past relationships stemming from? I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of these issues rather than constantly analyze every little detail that brought me to where I was at that very moment, a lá any Girls episode.
And honestly, I could not carry on this way. I refused to be Jason Segal from Dating Sarah Marshall crying on the top floor of a luxury hotel. Absolutely not.
I was on a spiritual pursuit, and no, snacks were not included.
Ironically, the person who wasn't ready to pursue a relationship with me mentioned a meditation place in Brooklyn that I always kept in mind while we dated. Enter, Vajradhara Meditation Center. I skimmed the site looking at the many class offerings available and found a class about recognizing the painful Self and eliminating bad habits. I emailed the teacher and headed to the class after work.
"I hope there is mystery and poetry in your life." - Eileen MylesTweet It!
Part of me thought I was going to be greeted by some spiritual guru donning a man bun and a bed sheet wrapped around his body. But no, I was greeted by some really nice dude named Matthew. He was wearing khakis and a pullover. A PULLOVER. My teacher for the next hour and a half was going to show me the magic of my mind wearing a pullover. Okay, this didn't seem as "new agey" as I thought.
Walking into the room, I noticed the other people there. Being the over-thinker that I am, I sensed they knew I was fresh meat right away. Do I bow? Do I start chanting? You're not going to sacrifice the new girl, are you? I found an empty seat anticipating the class.
I can't give away the entirety of the class because I believe that meditation is something everyone should try for themselves or at least attempt once. But I learned a lot of helpful insight that I didn't know prior to class. This newfound awareness, I believe, can help combat my bad habits at their core so I can rid myself of false perceptions of who I am, and grow into who I believe I can be. <-- How about them apples?
Here are a few things that I took away from my first class:
1. Meditation isn't a cult. When I first told my best friend that I was going to a meditation class, she asked "Are you gonna start wearing one of those bracelets like Madonna?" The answer is no. People don't collect Cub Scout badges or cast spells that turn you into a mouse or a monkey. It is a community of people who gather together to relax the mind, diffuse the Ego, and strengthen the Self.
2. Meditation isn't a competition. It's normal to get frustrated when you notice your mind wander. You start thinking to yourself, "How is this so easy for others but I struggle like hell to grasp it?" Small steps like noticing your mind drift and concentrating on breath are little victories of becoming self-aware. So don't beat yourself up. Meditation is a process and people learn at their own pace.
3. Everyone is welcome. You don't have to "be" a certain type of person to meditate. Although I have my own personal relationship with the universe and a belief system that may be different from another twenty-something's view on life, I noticed the array of people in the class was diverse. Whether you're old, young, gay, straight, red, blue, etcetera, everyone is welcome to discovering the best version of his or her Self.
4. You won't turn into a unicorn after your first class. Although I'd like to consider myself a beautiful creature inside and out with decent morals and a kind heart, I didn't start shitting rainbows and butterflies once the class was over. I was still sad about a potentially great relationship being kicked to the curb. But going to the class helped me focus on ME and not the other person; continuously learning more about myself and growing a deeper understanding of what is, rather than asking what if about things I can't control. It's accepting the present moment rather than worrying about the future.
Everyone is different and will approach meditation based on what they want to get out of it and if it's something they want to continue to pursue. Again, this was solely my perspective and what I took away from it. If you have the time, are curious about it, or want to discover a different way of viewing the present, then give it a go. I can't guarantee that you'll unlock the hidden hills and valleys to your soul right away, or not want to punch someone in the face the next time you encounter a stressful situation, but it's something to consider.
Think about it.
Jules Allen is a cat lady currently living in Hoboken, New Jersey by way of of Delaware. Ironically working in digital marketing, she prefers paperback books over e-readers and handwritten letters over long e-mails all while making a conscious effort of staying in the moment. She enjoys writing, eating tacos, NYC, live music, embracing her quarter life crisis, and drinking champagne. Lots of champagne.
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