Maybe you felt that that quiet, serene state you are supposed to experience was way out of reach; all you noticed were your legs hurting and your mind racing, leaving you with a feeling of failure and frustration.
But then again there is this longing to be more at ease, more at peace with yourself and a wish to escape the never-ending pressure of the mind. What to do? It could be time to take a fresh look at meditation.
Forget about what you know
Somehow meditation has a serious ring to it. Something to do with discipline, enduring uncomfortable sensations, being silent and other should's and don'ts. Maybe the word meditation reminds you of monks in orange robes that sit still for hours and hours, far away in some ancient monastery. Or a picture comes up of a radiant, good-looking woman or man in a magazine, a perfect body in the right posture, meditating on a rock near the sea with a knowing smile.
Meditation seems to be a skill you have to learn from an enlightened teacher, eventually leading to inner bliss and an unshakable balance after a long, hard practice.
Well...that kind of ring.
Let's drop all these ideas for a moment
Forget about everything you think you know about meditation. About tradition and instructions and even the way it should look (sitting cross-legged on a cushion in a silent room). Forget about no-thinking, inner peace and rising above everything you want to get rid of.
Meditation is not something you can learn. It is a birthright. It is about being aware of what is happening right now. It actually doesn't require a certain state of mind, a silent room or a meditation cushion. Meditation is about awareness. About looking without interfering, just looking at what we experience. We can do that at any given moment.
As J.Krishnamurti so beautifully put it:
"Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life - perhaps the greatest, and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody. That is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore no authority... meditation can take place when you are sitting in a bus or walking in the woods full of light and shadows, or listening to the singing of birds or looking at the face of your wife or child."
I would like to add to this: it can take place when your legs hurt, when there is a restless feeling in your stomach, when your heart feels sad or closed.
It is about stepping back and meeting everything as it is. Let life speak to you instead of putting labels on everything you encounter.
We are all experts
The point I want to make is that meditation is part of you already. It is a personal investigation into the fabric of life. We are all experts. We are all awake and alive. We all live in the middle of this mystery whether you recognise it as such or not. Whenever you open to listen, really listen, you are meditating.
So just try it. After reading this article, sit for a few minutes and listen.
Don't look for meaning or relaxation. Don't wait for an undisturbed, quiet moment. Just feel the incredible aliveness right in front of you. It can manifest as a sound, a feeling, a sensation, a thought.
Practise letting go of the labels. Meet life as it presents itself to you.
Only our mind will tell us that meditation is a serious matter. The mind loves to turn things into projects with a proper goal. It tells us that if we would just do our best we would finally reach... ehm...yes, well, whatever it is we have in mind. Unfortunately, we are always too weak or too distracted to reach our goal.
Don't listen to the mind. Stop listening to its comments as if it knows anything. It is time to grow up and embrace ourselves.
Let's not wait for any authority to tell us we are allowed to love who we are. Or how to be intimate with life. We are life! Invite your playfulness and curiosity and jump right in, it's all here and waiting to be discovered. By you.