My dear friend in Seattle gave me a meditation app for Christmas. I know the science behind meditation and occasionally have done a session with someone that has been really powerful, but deep in my heart I’m a bit of a sceptic. When I got this app for Christmas I decided I would give it a really concerted go, so I’ve been making sure I practice every day. This morning I was getting ready to go out on my morning run – a habit I have fully embedded after two years – and decided I should do my meditation first. So I took off my running shoes and sat back down on the sofa.
Full disclosure: I’m pretty new to meditation and I’m still learning. And by still learning I mean I’m really, really bad. I think if I were the next Dalai Lama or even Dan Harris I probably wouldn’t say this – I would be kind to myself – I’d acknowledge those negative thoughts and then let them go. But truly it’s a learning curve and I’m somewhere near rock bottom.
I am however five weeks in to this practice and I can see signs of progress. There are days when I feel present. I finish the session more focused, calmer, better able to face my day. Today was not one of those. My greatest achievement in today’s practice was sitting there for the ten minutes without fidgeting while the timer counted down. My mind wandered. My eyes opened. I ran through my day’s task list and all the other emotions I was feeling beyond the one we were actually exploring. Every time I tried to bring my mind back to my breath or even listen intently to the teacher’s voice I got distracted. For the whole final minute of the session I watched the clock.
But I finished it, shrugged my shoulders, got up, moved on. I called my friend and left her a message to say it hadn’t gone well. It was only when I was putting my shoes back on to get ready to run that I realised I’d been wearing my mask the whole time. I laughed – called my friend again and left a second message with some comment about it being a sign of the times.
Just like every other morning, I ran through the streets of Chertsey. I love Chertsey, but alongside the history is urban grit. The urban gritty part brings personality but also a lot of litter, and I collect it when I run. Usually this makes me feel good, a bit better about myself and my belief I’m making the place a bit cleaner for all of us to enjoy. This morning the pavements were wet, the sky was grey and the cans and bottles overwhelmed me.
Only now, on reflection as I make a cup of tea and cool down, I think back on today’s meditation and realize the topic we were exploring was facing your fears. I thought I couldn’t focus because I had other emotions that were more present than fear. But maybe I’m batting it away because it’s too raw and too real. It’s like the rubbish on the street, hard to face without a mask.