Meditation Meltdown

In spite of years of trying and wanting to adapt meditation into my daily routine, it hasn’t quite worked out as I envisioned. It’s been nothing like the scenes I’ve come across of pristine environments, water features, gorgeous floor pillows, perfect lighting, and ideal breathing. I’ve tried all the apps without there being a clear winner in holding my attention. My mind generally refuses to slow down, constantly flooded with scary, sad, excited, overwhelming, worried, and creative thoughts. Sometimes, the urge to suddenly organize my sock drawer is unavoidable. It’s a minefield.

If I had never reached this seemingly impossible-to-achieve state of euphoric nothingness, I’d suspect it was bogus or just not for me and move on. The problem is that I have achieved this state. And it’s incredible. Once was at home, and another time was during acupuncture. These moments were quiet, deliberate, cozy, warm, slow. I had a clear image in my head of another place of existence that acted as an escape–an escape among chaos. These moments existed in isolation, not being influenced by anything that has happened before or might happen after. It was a rare break that I had never experienced before and never knew was possible.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if this was all only achievable at a relatively good time and that it’s not accessible when I actually need it most. There’s a part of me that would then argue there’s no point to it, but I suppose I know deep down that’s not entirely true. I think and hope it’s something that I can get a bit better at with even more practice. And if not, setting aside this time in a quiet space at least can’t be bad. Even if it’s a way to collect and organize my thoughts instead of wrestling with them as I go, that’s beneficial. So, it’s nothing that looks like real” meditation, but it’s a break from the usual.

If the primary goal for meditation, for me, is achieving mindfulness at that moment, I have found more consistent success with things like object-based mindfulness. I learned this in therapy, but basically, you choose to focus on a single thing to such a degree that it’s all-consuming. At the time, this thing for me was plants. So, really observing every detail of its color, texture, patterns, and soil and thinking about what it takes for it to thrive.

This seemingly simple object becomes incredibly complex, engaging, and beautiful. So much so that nearly 20 minutes would pass before I realized that there was no space for thinking about work, laundry, or a cringy social interaction I had ten years ago. It’s powerful, and this is when I started to believe in the importance of reserving this time. It’s recharging and a rare break from tensely held forehead muscles.

More recently, I’ve transferred this to macro photography. In attempting to capture the incredible and tiny details of bugs and flowers, there’s no room to think about anything else. The photography itself doesn’t matter. It’s taking time to observe, think, and appreciate. I have to allow myself not to worry about the past or the future. It’s a single-standing moment of just existing and breathing as a human, appreciating something natural and stunning.

So, I guess it’s been a successful journey, but with a twist. I’ll keep setting meditation time aside each day to see what happens, even if sometimes all I produce is a grocery list in my head. Leaving room and forgiveness for these missteps is a lot better than berating myself over them or giving up. Plus, there’s always bugs.

See you tomorrow over breakfast.

February 12, 2024

A tiny project byJoni Trythall inspired by friends at Wiggle Work.