Meditation and Courage

6 years ago I made a deal with myself that I would meditate 20 minutes daily. 6 years later, I can count on the fingers of my hands the days I’ve missed my meditation.

I started practicing yoga 15-16 years ago and while I was meditating on and off I was falling off the discipline regularly.
Oh the excuses I was coming up with: I’m too tired to wake up 30 minutes before my usual time, I’m too busy, I have too much on my mind, I’ll do it later, I don’t have a proper space to do it… I could honestly find another 10 excuses, easily.

This is very interesting to me for I had meditated in the past. When I was in India studying yoga, we would meditate twice daily for at least 30-45 minutes, when I took my 200H teacher training in NYC, I would meditate daily. I would also go twice weekly to my meditation classes with Alan Finger in New York. Even though I had these pretty solid experiences, it was still hard for me to commit to the practice. I was able to commit to the practice of the asanas without any issues, the physical practice, but that practice of the mind was still very elusive to me.
And the very interesting thing to me is that I had some profound experiences while meditating with these teachers. I would also notice how I would be more grounded and less affected by my emotions during my every day life but somehow I was still having a hard time to commit to it.

How is it possible that I can see the practice of meditation does a lot of good to me and yet I can’t find the will to do it? Talking to other people about it, I quickly realized that I wasn’t alone in my struggle. What I came to understand over the years is that self care and self development is challenging and requires a lot of courage. Yes, courage!
Courage because it is a discipline, it’s something that you have to do every day in order to make a change in your life. Meditating every day for 5 minutes is much better than meditating half an hour once in a while. My husband can tell you that I’m a pretty disciplined person at least, when I set my mind on something, but even I, had a hard time to keep it a habit. So here is what I did. 6 years ago, I made a pact with myself that starting that day, I would meditate every day, no matter what, no excuses. I would make meditation the priority in my life.
And because I’m a woman of my words, this has worked. I’ve been meditating since, every morning for 20 minutes. Of course, it hasn’t always been an easy and smooth process. Sitting in silence and observing your thoughts or focusing on the breath is a true challenge. There were many days where I didn’t feel like sitting down but I did anyway because I made a deal with myself.
In the yoga philosophy, there is the concept of “tapas”. I remember my teacher, Jenny Aurthur, translating it as: the willingness to endure difficulties for the sake of transformation. To me that is exactly what my meditation practice is about. Yes, it is a challenge to sit with myself every day but I know and I see that it’s making me a better and more centered person. And for that I’m so grateful.
Of course, after 6 years, the practice of meditation has become easier. Not easy but easier. It is still challenging to come back to the object of meditation but now I’m actually looking forward to sitting down and having that quiet moment with myself. It is changing the course of my day and my life. It’s changing for the best, the way I see myself and interact with others.

This makes me think of that quote from Blaise Pascal: “all the troubles in our life come upon us because we refuse to sit quietly for a while every day in our room”.

Coming back to courage. It also takes a lot of courage for you’ll be face to face with emotions, feelings and aspects of yourself that you may prefer avoiding rather than dealing with. There is no easy way and the only way is to go thru it, all of it; the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a very courageous act to be willing to look at; excuse my French, your shit.
But how amazing to know that we have the ability to grow, develop and heal ourselves on our own. It’s a slow process but with really solid results.
And I’m full of gratitude to that tool for helping me so much the last 6 years. My meditation is so precious to me.

We have the power to make changes in our life. Somehow we fall into the trap that the others may know better. While having a community around us and getting inspired by others or getting help is crucial; at the end of the day, the work has to be done by us. And to me, that is a very courageous act.
If we don’t program our life, life programs us.

Here are a few tips to make your commitment easier:
– do it first thing in the morning. If you let the day go by, you’ll find many excuses not to do it.
– wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual. Believe me, you won’t feel more tired, you’ll actually feel more grounded and better prepared to start your day.
– do not check your e-mails or social medias before meditating. Keep the quiet energy of the morning to focus your mind.
– set a timer so you don’t have to open your eyes to look at the time.
– meditate seated in a confortable position. The lying down position will make you want to go back to sleep!
– focus on your breath. This is the object of your meditation.
– you mind WILL wander away. That is fine! Be aware of it as soon as possible and come back to the breath.
– do it anyway even if you feel that you suck at it. I promise it will get easier. The key is to stick to it. Show up for yourself; you are worth it.
– and please during that process, be gentle with yourself. Be gentle, for you may meet parts of yourself you have been at war with.

I leave you with this quote: “I’m showing up for myself the way I would show up for someone else”. I don’t know who said it but it resonates deeply with me.

Thank you for reading.